Staying active with fitness centres and gyms closed can be challenging, but online fitness classes have become a popular alternative, and it's a trend that could stick.

For Brockville, Ont. fitness instructor Jenni Stotts, she is beating the winter blues by offering online workout classes, for free.

"This keeps us moving, keeps our daily activities functional and helps us all live a little bit more," Stotts told CTV News Ottawa from her downtown apartment.

While in and out of her office gym at the Brockville YMCA due to the pandemic, she told herself she would beat this recent closure by opening up her phone.

"I was going to be off work I decided that I needed something to keep myself motivated and some of my friends and family motivated," Stotts said. "So I decided to take this time to just start doing some online things and just kind of reach out."

Jenni Stotts

She's been offering daily challenges, and different 30-45 minute workouts through her Facebook group five days a week.

"We have some total body, some more low-impact classes and some more circuit-style, hit-style workouts that are a little higher intensity," Stotts said, gaining almost 100 followers just in the first week.

"It's been really great, really inspiring for me because I've seen them join my daily challenges and then they're posting and people are commenting on each other's posts and motivating each other," she added.

People like north-end resident Debbie Ridgers, joining Stotts' classes from a tiny space in her basement.

"I've been doing the gentle body toning and absolutely the Zumba and Yoga," Ridgers said. "It absolutely makes me happier, makes me more able to concentrate, have routine and structure in my life."

Debbie Ridgers

According to the worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2021, participation in online training is now in the number one spot, with wearable technology, and body weight training rounding out the top three.

"Online is great because you can do it in the comfort of your own home and you can do it at a time that works for you," Stotts said.

"The online does give an option for those who aren't able to get to the gym at the same times or, you know, reduced hours, things like that," she added. "It can be a little more difficult to get to the gym."

Both Stotts and Ridgers agree, by working out at home, you do lose an important part of the class.

"I like the social aspect of it," Ridgers said. "I think what I'm going to end up doing is I'm going to go back to classes physically, but when I can't, I definitely will embrace the privilege of being able to take her classes online."

With Blue Monday also on the horizon next week, known as the most depressing day of the year, getting active can also improve your mental health.

"It's one of the hardest days for a lot of people so I just encourage you to dance, or yoga or something that just makes you feel good," Stotts said. "I personally find the physical activity is a huge part of my mental health so I know that the lockdowns have been especially difficult on me."

"I feel that fitness most definitely affects my mental health," added Ridgers. "I love yoga. I never thought that yoga would become such an important part of my life. It's taught me to relax more, to be more in the moment, to breathe and deal with any anxiety issues I'm feeling about my family, my friends, COVID in general."

"There is a lot of people that do start resolutions in January," added Stotts. "Of course, with this closure, it's been a little bit more difficult, but having this online does give you that option to still get started so that we can maybe create a routine."

For anyone interested in joining Stotts online classes, her Facebook group is called Fitness with Jenni.