Staying physically fit is an essential part of maintaining an active aging lifestyle. Getting motivated to exercise can be challenging — especially when social distancing prevents us from gathering in a gym or shared space. Sometimes all you need to get moving is a nudge from a willing partner. After all, working out with a friend or family member or in a group holds you accountable, is more fun than going it alone and often pushes you to set and reach new fitness goals.

Thanks to technology, doing virtual workouts with others is easier than you think. As always, be sure to consult your doctor before launching any new exercise routines. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Attend virtual workout sessions

Unfortunately, pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, self-quarantines and social distancing guidelines forced many brick-and-mortar fitness facilities to close. As a result, the multimillion-dollar online fitness market surged and is going strong.

Virtual fitness platforms like Peloton and Obé offer a multitude of training session options with groups. In both cases, you and your friends choose an online workout class to take together, schedule a day and start time, show up and start moving. Peloton sessions require equipment, with some rides offering video chats you can do with others. With Obé, you can schedule online workout “parties” with up to seven friends — as a member or during a free trial.

Remember that fitness classes can include physical activities beyond cycling, using a treadmill or doing jumping jacks — dancing, yoga, stretching and Zumba are just a few of the popular options you can try.

Host DIY Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime workouts

If you’re a little shy about exercising virtually with strangers, hosting regular workout sessions on Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and Facetime with family and friends can be casual and fun.


To make the routines interactive, rotate session leaders, have each new leader submit a list of exercises, reps and suggested workout playlists before the designated class time. As with any routine, you can start with short sessions — like 10 minutes twice a week. If schedules allow, you can aim for 30-minute workouts, three to five times a week.

Furthermore, setting goals gives your group something to work toward. For example, each week, try to increase reps by increments of five. Or increase each session length by five or 10 minutes every two weeks.

Emotional support goes a long way in keeping group members motivated and believing in themselves. Always encourage and push each other along the way and be sure to throw some virtual high-fives when someone hits a milestone or nails a tough set of exercises.

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Share progress with fitness apps

Hundreds of fitness apps are free for iPhone and Android platforms. To work out with a buddy, find a compatible app for your devices and then find fun exercises together. Sworkit, for example, allows you to share your activities and track progress with a partner or a group. Just start a video chat on Zoom or Google Hangouts and follow these sharing instructions. Older adults can find workouts tailored for actively aging participants like FitOn, which also features sessions with celebrity trainers.

Charity Miles donates money to your designated charity for every mile you move. So if you and a friend download the app, every mile you walk, run or bike will help an organization that helps others. Overall, you and your fitness partner can celebrate miles you log and share the intrinsic rewards that come with supporting a worthy cause. How cool is that?

Set mutual goals and complete regular challenges

Exercising together can be as simple as plotting out some mutual fitness goals, mixing up your routines to keep activities fresh and throwing in a weekly or monthly challenge. For example, walk on Wednesdays and do weightlifting on Fridays. Track and share your progress in a smartphone note, an Excel or Google sheet, text or email that you exchange with one or more workout partners daily, weekly or monthly.

Workout challenges abound and can be a fun way to promote friendly competition. For instance, track who walks the most miles or does the most situps in a week or month. Along with virtual fist bumps, maybe the winner can receive a fun prize.

Overall, the most important thing is to start a doctor-approved exercise plan, stick with it and boost each other via phone, text or video chat until you can safely work out together in the same space once again.

Active Aging is presented by Koelsch Communities.

With 60 years of signature service to families, Koelsch Communities has been family owned and operated for three generations. Our continued success is compelled by our founding principles as we strive to serve our residents with respect, dignity and compassion.