I find myself in a completely different place from where I was the last time ­­­writing an article. This makes me realize how much has changed in such a short amount of time. My morning fitness class switched to being online, along with any work or social interaction.

Although face-to-face activities are ideal, being forced to communicate in a virtual state did offer opportunities, such as joining classes remotely and brushing up on my tech skills.

I enjoyed taking a Saturday morning Zumba fitness class with a studio I used to go to in Houston, Texas, and am spending more time with my daughter trying out online workouts from home. Technical difficulties were an issue but we worked through them, so today I have some tips to share from our virtual journey of taking fitness classes online through Zoom.

First, prepare your space and set up well before your Zoom event time. If you don’t live alone, make sure everyone knows so there’s less interruption.

If your class is first thing in the morning, set up the night prior and give yourself time to wake up before your meeting, so you are more alert.

It’s good practice to connect to a meeting with no video and mute yourself, so there’s less interruption. Usually instructors will let you know their preference.

If you want your instructor’s window to stay on the main screen, you may have to go to her window, hover over the three little dots in the right-hand corner and pin the video.

Learn to give a meeting reaction even if your video is off and you’re muted. Hover over “Reactions” on your meeting controls and choose a thumbs up or a clap to be displayed for about five seconds. For more short cuts, check out bit.ly/Zoomkeyboard.

Also, don’t be afraid to use the chat box to let your instructor know that everyone is not muted as sometimes it’s hard to see everyone when instructing. Having someone not muted can interfere with the audio connection.

If you are having a bad connection or lag, move your device closer to the router and make sure your router is placed in an open space, not enclosed by walls, not on the floor or near other electronics as they can interfere with the router signal.

Check to see if you have an app-enabled router. This can help monitor and control your home Wi-Fi right from your phone. This can come in handy in a household full of many devices.

If possible, use a hard-wire connection. Use an Ethernet cable to connect the internet access point (router) straight to the device (laptop/computer). It is more secure as outside devices have no access to the network and can improve speed and stability.

If you are using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for work, make sure to disconnect from it when you don’t need it. My download and upload speeds are always faster after disconnecting from my work VPN.

Knowing your bandwidth speed is also good to know. Bandwidth is a measurement of how quickly information travels. If it’s very slow compared to your purchased package speed, you can call your service provider to see possible reasons. To learn your download and upload speed, you can search for a speed test online. I use speedtest.net.

Now that Alaskans have the option to go to the gym, it’s nice to see gyms and institutions still offer a virtual form for fitness classes. I hope you take advantage of being outdoors and if you’ve thought of taking a fitness class online, I hope these tips we offered help with your experience!

Reina Hasting is a coordinator with Extension’s Family Nutrition Program, which is administered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she can be contacted at rhhasting@alaska.edu or 907-474-2437.