Urban Sport of the Week: Virtual Fitness

Urban Sports Club is the largest, most flexible and diverse sports offer in your city with over 50 types of sports and over 2000 partner venues in 20+ cities across Germany.

Urban Sport of the Week: Virtual Fitness
Photo: Jillian Michaels

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Visit your local yoga studio, go swimming, bouldering, have a gym session, take a dance class or make new friends in Urban Sports Club's team sport communities. All of this in one membership at a fixed cost that you can cancel at just one month's notice.

In the Urban Sport of the Week series, a member of the USC team tries a different sport to encourage members to do the same – because new sports lead to new hobbies and new friends.

As we all know, technology is taking over the world, including the way we exercise. This week, a USC member explored the world of Virtual Fitness to find out what the future holds for the sports industry…

What is Virtual Fitness?

Virtual Reality and fitness training make the perfect partnership.Virtual Fitness uses VR in the gym to create immersive fitness solutions that can range from running through the streets of Tokyo (when you’re actually on a treadmill) to fitness classes from world class instructors projected on to the wall of your studio.

Our Virtual Fitness class was at Holmes Place, Bismarckstraße in West Berlin. Holmes Place is a network of luxury health clubs and spas located across Germany and the Middle East, and this year they’ll be introducing the world of Virtual Fitness to our everyday lives.

What can you expect?

Holmes Place certainly knows how to do luxury. I was greeted by friendly staff at the sleek club in West Berlin, given a fresh towel and directed to the state-of-the-art changing rooms. Today's class was a 45 minute Legs, Bums and Tums workout. The only difference being that instead of a fitness instructor I would be following the class from a film projected on the wall of the studio.

A screen outside the studio space allows you to select your workout of choice on-demand. Holmes Place have pre-scheduled virtual classes, however when these aren’t scheduled members are able to select a workout on-demand. It’s totally flexible – you can just turn up, choose your class, press play and start your workout.

Photo: Holmes Place

Sign up to Urban Sports Club today – get fit, discover new hobbies and make new friends.

How was the workout?

A familiar face popped up on screen – the personal trainer from The Biggest Loser, USA – Jillian Michaels. I’m a big fan of American reality TV so this was a definite plus (Catfish = best TV show of all time).

The class began with a light cardio warm-up of jogging, star jumps and knee-ups. Jillian Michaels is one of the best trainers in the world – having her teach the class was extremely motivating. The video included two other trainers in the background who were doing alternative exercises – an easy and a difficult version. I tried my best to do the difficult one throughout but it was actually quite, erm, difficult.

Jillian started the workout with a leg circuit. This involved a minute of low front squats, then reverse lunges and then a low sumo-squat raised on to our tiptoes (this was killer). We did this for three rounds. Jillian kept staring straight at the camera and yelling encouragement/threats – I really thought she might jump out and whoop my ass if I took a rest.

After this we did an abs circuit which involved a front and side planks. In-between we did hip-lifts. It was painful but Jillian’s yelling kept me motivated.

Then we did more squats, Spiderman planks and lunges and then on to the bum circuit. This involved being on hands and knees and lifting one leg repeatedly, then the other. Then more hip-lifts and on to the next leg. Jillian talked (yelled) us through a few variations of this exercise until I thought I might yell back at her, but by then it was time for the cool down.

Sign up to Urban Sports Club today – get fit, discover new hobbies and make new friends.

How did I feel after?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Virtual class – I thought it could be less motivating than having a real instructor in the room. However, it felt just like I was being taught face-to-face. The exercises were just as easy to follow and the way Jillian trained was genuinely funny and very motivating.

I felt just how I feel after a gruelling exercise class with a face-to-face trainer – tired, sweaty and happy.

Benefits of Virtual Fitness

The same benefits of general fitness, except you can take a class whenever you want with this on-demand format. It’s very flexible and fits with your schedule.

The videos provide options for differing levels so you can vary the exercises according to your abilities.

Holmes Place plan to have real-life trainers in every scheduled class to make sure members are exercising correctly. This makes it more like a personal training session and it means that technology won’t be replacing humans (not yet, anyway).

Don’t forget to bring…

Gym clothes, towel, water – and a very thick skin if your class is run by Jillian.

L members have access to Holmes Place clubs across Germany– find a gym in your area. And have a look at our gym partners in France for a similar format near you.

*This content is an advertisement. It was not produced by The Local's journalists.


Italy’s constitutional court upholds Covid vaccine mandate as fines kick in

Judges on Thursday dismissed legal challenges to Italy's vaccine mandate as "inadmissible” and “unfounded”, as 1.9 million people face fines for refusing the jab.

Italy's constitutional court upholds Covid vaccine mandate as fines kick in

Judges were asked this week to determine whether or not vaccine mandates introduced by the previous government during the pandemic – which applied to healthcare and school staff as well as over-50s – breached the fundamental rights set out by Italy’s constitution.

Italy became the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

The Constitutional Court upheld the law in a ruling published on Thursday, saying it considered the government’s requirement for healthcare personnel to be vaccinated during the pandemic period neither unreasonable nor disproportionate.

Judges ruled other questions around the issue as inadmissible “for procedural reasons”, according to a court statement published on Thursday.

This was the first time the Italian Constitutional Court had ruled on the issue, after several regional courts previously dismissed challenges to the vaccine obligation on constitutional grounds.

A patient being administered a Covid jab.

Photo by Pascal GUYOT / AFP

One Lazio regional administrative court ruled in March 2022 that the question of constitutional compatibility was “manifestly unfounded”.

Such appeals usually centre on the question of whether the vaccine requirement can be justified in order to protect the ‘right to health’ as enshrined in the Italian Constitution.

READ ALSO: Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Meanwhile, fines kicked in from Thursday, December 1st, for almost two million people in Italy who were required to get vaccinated under the mandate but refused.

This includes teachers, law enforcement and healthcare workers, and the over 50s, who face fines of 100 euros each under rules introduced in 2021.

Thursday was the deadline to justify non-compliance with the vaccination mandate due to health reasons, such as having contracted Covid during that period.

Italy’s health minister on Friday however appeared to suggest that the new government may choose not to enforce the fines.

“It could cost more for the state to collect the fines” than the resulting income, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci told Radio Rai 1.

He went on to say that it was a matter for the Economy and Finance Ministry, but suggested that the government was drawing up an amendment to the existing law.

READ ALSO: Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

The League, one of the parties which comprises the new hard-right government, is pushing for fines for over-50s to be postponed until June 30th 2023.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had promised a clear break with her predecessor’s health policies, after her Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic in 2021 when it was in opposition.

At the end of October, shortly after taking office, the new government allowed doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to return to work earlier than planned after being suspended for refusing the Covid vaccine.

There has been uncertainty about the new government’s stance after the deputy health minister in November cast doubt on the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, saying he was “not for or against” vaccination.

Italy’s health ministry continues to advise people in at-risk groups to get a booster jab this winter, and this week stressed in social media posts that vaccination against Covid-19 and seasonal flu remained “the most effective way to protect ourselves and our loved ones, especially the elderly and frail”.