Fitness classes, bakery lessons and wine tasting online booms as people begin self-isolating

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Joe Wickes
Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, is hosting daily PE sessions for kids and parents Credit: Getty Images

From virtual wine tasting to cooking lessons, choirs and bike rides, online classes are experiencing a boom as the nation gets to grips with self-isolating.

With social distancing set to become the norm for the foreseeable future, people of all ages have been forced to get creative to ensure they keep busy, continue their favourite activities and stay connected to the outside world.

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a huge spike in interest in online tutorials and classes, while savvy experts are launching a whole range of virtual groups to keep spirits up and encourage people to embrace a new life lived online.

Local pub quiz groups, breastfeeding support groups and even dance classes have all taken off online over the last few days.

Live views for Joe Wicks’s first daily online PE class for children peaked at 806,000 on Monday, the first day all schools were closed, as #PEWithJoe trended at number one on Twitter.

Wicks, who is conducting the classes at 9am every day via his The Body Coach YouTube channel, told The Telegraph: "Wow what an incredible start. I'm overwhelmed by the response and how many people took part this morning. 

"We had millions of kids and families all over the world exercising together and starting their day with something that’s going to make them feel healthier, happier, more energised and more positive. I can't wait to do it again tomorrow and everyday over the coming weeks."

Cycling and running clubs are increasingly turning to virtual workout platforms in a bid to maintain contact between members and keep fit.

Indoor training platform Zwift has seen a huge spike in usage as individuals join forces with like-minded people from all over the globe to take part in one of the 300 or so group events scheduled daily, from social rides to spinning classes.

A spokesman said: "At this time of year, people normally start to get back outside but they’re now turning to online platforms as a means to stay fit and stay connected.

"A lot of professional athletes who used to use Zwift to train are now using it to lead rides or runs and encourage others to get involved. Geraint Thomas has led some rides and Mo Farah did a run yesterday."

James Mills, a choir and vocal leader, last week launched The Sofa Singers, a weekly online event that brings 500 people together for a 45-minute rehearsal, during which they learn a classic song and then sing it together.

Mr Sills, 37, from North Wales, got his inspiration after seeing videos of locked-down Italians singing from their balconies (see below), but he was astonished by the response to his choir after putting the idea out on his social media feeds.

All 500 places for last Thursday evening's event were snapped up within 10 minutes, by would-be singers from all over the UK and as far afield as Ohio, Mexico and Kenya.

"I think people are really happy to do something that is positive and that they can feel part of," he said.

Singers can hear Mr Mills and themselves and can see everyone else on screen. If someone catches his eye, Mr Mills unmutes them, so everyone else can hear them, too.

Meanwhile, would-be wine connoisseurs can log into Instagram Live at 6pm each evening for a virtual wine tasting session hosted by Quality Wines in Farringdon, London, which recommends bottles for participants to buy in advance.

Similarly, Bread Ahead, a gourmet bakery, is hosting 2pm baking workshops via Instagram Live, with the day’s recipe and list of ingredients published ahead of time, allowing viewers to attempt a selection of recipes, from rosemary focaccia to cinnamon buns.

Movie watchers can sign up to Netflix Party or Facebook Watch Party, which allow multiple viewers to watch films in sync and chat about them together online.

Online drawing classes, book clubs, games nights and pub quizzes are all also doing a roaring trade.