AR Focus Statement
Most people seldom make time to go to the gym and workout due to a myriad of excuses. Studies have also shown that too much sitting can cause ill effects on health in the long run. My action research’s proposed solution aims to improve the health lives of sedentary individuals through online training.
Target audience members are five single male and female individuals. There was one female participant over the age of 30 and the rest were males between the ages of 23 and 50. They lead sedentary lifestyles in which most of their working hours consist of sitting behind a desk or in front of a computer. They are tech-savvy individuals who are plugged into social media networks, staying on top of the news and keeping in touch with friends, family and co-workers. They are part of the culture of immediacy (fast food, fast internet, quick gains and rapid output).
Summary of Cycle 2
Workout sessions continued with no interruptions into Cycle 2. All participants agreed that the workout exercises themselves were fun and effective, so Cycle 2 implementations were all about making the workout experience better. Four new things were implemented into this cycle: background music was added during workout sessions, workout archives were emailed to participants, workout videos were added to the website database, and a sample daily meal plan was created for participants.
All participants preferred music that was upbeat, so music from the electronic/dance genre played in the background. At the first session of Cycle 2, music streamed from the Internet using Pandora, an online music streaming service that randomly plays songs from a radio station. Unfortunately, this setup hampered on the video streaming, and participants noticed that the live video feed became choppier while music played from Pandora. During the next session, music was played locally using iTunes playlists. This setup seemed to work better because there was no slowdown in the live video streaming; participants reported that the video feed was back to normal, yet the music could still be heard in the background.
Workouts were recorded as usual, but this time they were sent to all participants who missed that session. All participants requested that a private link to the recorded video was best because they disliked the idea of having a workout video of them floating around the Internet. Exercise videos were also added to the website so that participants have the opportunity to view actual demonstrations. Although the workout illustrations were helpful, participants said that having videos would aid immensely.
Meal plans were created as a supplement to the workouts. Participants said they were interested in reforming their diet as well, so a daily meal plan was posted on the website. The plan followed a slow-carb diet methodology in which sugar, fruit, processed carbohydrates, dairy, and grains are avoided; dieters are encouraged to eat the same few meals everyday, with little variation to ensure a successful outcome. The slow-carb diet also stated that one a day week, usually on a Saturday, should be reserved for a cheat day in which dieters are allowed to eat whatever they like during that time frame.
Once the workout session was over, participants typically talked about their day. While some talked about the ups and downs of their lives in general, others listened and offered praise or encouragement to those individuals. On some days, participants swapped ideas for meals, and some even shared their cooking on video. A tiny community was beginning to form around a ten-minute workout session, although conversations after the sessions usually lasted another fifteen to twenty minutes.
The implementation of the additional items was successful and positively affected the whole workout experience. Participants also gave their feedback when asked what they thought of the workout session and the new improvements.
Various kinds of data ranging from the quantitative to the qualitative were collected throughout the second cycle. The post surveys revealed that the workout program received a positive average rating of 93%–the following items were averaged according to what each participant graded on the post survey (using a 5 point scale for each question), and then those totals were averaged to get the final success rate:
- Registration guidelines for Google+ Hangouts and other guides were thorough and easy to understand: 80%
- The workout curriculum was easy to understand and follow: 100%
- The Hangouts workout session was effective and stayed within the designated time frame: 95%
- Workout exercises were fun, engaging, and challenging: 100%
- Google+ Hangouts was easy and fun to use: 90%
- The instructor was available, helpful, and accommodating to participants’ needs: 100%
On the qualitative side of the post survey, 75% of participants said that they were able to achieve their own personal objectives and progress toward goals. The other 25% said that they still had issues with time management but were short from giving up. According to participants, the inspiration and/or motivation that they needed to push through were both internal and external motivators ranging from personal health goals to working out with friends.
Regarding the new additions, participants reported that the program experience improved because music was added, videos were published, and meal plans were created—these implementations were based off the feedback received from Cycle 1. Workout sessions became more fun, enjoyable, and stepped out of the boundaries established in the previous cycle. Participants said that it was more than the 10-15 minute exercise session; this time around it was a whole new experience where various intelligences and senses were engaged.
For example, participants said that the musical aspect was motivating, allowing them to execute movements on the beat and control their pacing. For video archives, they appreciated that they could still be involved in the workout session during the times when they were not present for that session. Participants were also able to tweak and check their body form for future exercise sessions because of the newly implemented workout videos on the website. Finally, the meal plans added a new level of enthusiasm to pursue a healthy lifestyle–participants agreed that having a good diet was just as important as staying active and working out.
No indication of extreme weight loss was exhibited during Cycle 2; in all, the group lost a total of five pounds. However, participants verbalized that after each workout they felt their heart rate escalate and even felt more energized. Participants felt healthy because doing the sessions each week was more than what they have ever done physically. According to all participants, they were leading a healthier lifestyle because participating in these weekly exercises was a break from their normal routine; it was a stepping-stone to more healthful habits, like adopting a healthier and more wholesome diet or doing exercises on their own time.
The Action Research proved to be successful in meeting the needs of participants as outlined by their pre and post survey responses. Participants who were demotivated to join or travel to a gym found the in-home sessions particularly useful in their busy work schedules. The workout sessions helped participants jumpstart a healthier lifestyle by allowing group interactivity and accountability to facilitate an environment conducive to it.
The literature reported that time pressure was a major turn-off and ultimately turned away potential persons from a healthier lifestyle. However, the Action Research proved that in the presence of time pressure, accountability kept participants coming back because the workout experience was both fun, enjoyable, and engaged all the senses and various intelligences; elicited a positive physical and emotional response; and were personalized and interactive–something one would normally pay extra for at the gym.
After sifting through so many workout DVD’s, it is prudent to say that the Google+ Hangouts workout sessions were far superior to their DVD counterparts because the personalization involved helped build a community of practice that was free and totally independent from the gym experience. In addition to this free interactivity, Cycle 2 improvements helped fuel a more memorable workout experience. According to participant feedback, real-world adoption of healthy habits like working out more frequently on one’s own personal time or embracing diets like the slow-carb diet could potentially happen.
A follow-up with participants revealed that there were some individuals already taking great strides to establish a more healthful lifestyle outside of the Action Research experiment. For example, a few participants continued to implement the slow-carb diet not only into their life but also in the lives of their children and loved ones. There were also some participants that have joined a gym to supplement their training with other group classes like spinning or Zumba. Furthermore, because some of the participants were teachers, they took advantage of their summer away from school by improving their health through the means stated above.
The overall reaction to the workout sessions in Cycle 2 was very positive. There were no technical issues, participants were on time to sessions overall, and there was a great deal of fun and enjoyment in working out together as a group online. Some reactions are listed below:
- “The best part was working out together.”
- “It was actually fun to workout online.”
- “I was so inspired to workout that I joined a gym!”
- “The accountability motivated me to continue working out.”
Participants suggested using other instruments to workout in the future. Among those are bonsu balls, fitness balls, and weighted balls to work core muscles, as well as dumbbells of various weights to add some intensity to workouts. The portability and mobility of such instruments is ideal for this program because they support the focus statement of online group accountability and interaction—participants can purchase these tools and continue to work out from home, negating the need to invest in a gym membership.
Cycle 2 could continue on in the future if the current participants choose to make the program a more permanent aspect of their lifestyle. Concerning raffles and contests, participants could also have a chance to win certain prizes if they bring guests to the workout sessions.