Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Campus Recreation’s group fitness instructors rise to the challenge of teaching in the midst of a pandemic

3 min read

Fitness instructor, Victoria Percherke, poses with her students after a hard workout | Victoria Percherke

By: Kaitlin Smyth

Campus Recreation’s group fitness instructors have adapted to the pandemic.

Fitness classes were provided to allow students to workout with their fellow eagles in a safe, enjoyable environment. Group fitness classes were hosted online via Zoom and Instalive, as well as in-person, outdoors and socially distant. 

Sasha Kelly, student coordinator for fitness classes, reflected on her initial thoughts on the pandemic and the future of the group fitness community. 

“I got this position in April when no one knew what was going on, but most of us were optimistic that everything would go back to normal soon. We created a fall fitness schedule at the beginning of summer, but realized pretty quickly that the future was uncertain. We had to think smart and be careful of where we focused our energy. We waited until the last minute to make a lot of decisions because everything just kept changing,” said Kelly. 

UMW fitness instructors were aware of the high possibility that students would turn away from group fitness classes, especially with the requirement to wear a mask while exercising. However, Kelly found that with the smaller classes, the experience was more intimate and personal.

Sydney Burnley, a sophomore German major, discussed her experiences with the new outdoor fitness classes with Campus Rec. 

“I personally love that we’re able to support the group fitness program despite the challenges of COVID, the social distancing and the mask-wearing. It’s awesome that we can still foster that sense of community and a healthy lifestyle by participating in outdoor fitness classes,” said Burnley. “I definitely recommend [going] to a group fitness class if you feel comfortable being around people. I did my first dance fitness class recently, and it was absolutely amazing, especially if you do it with friends! Group fitness classes have helped me relieve stress from school, and hang out with my friends.”

Fitness instructors’ teaching plans are also affected by the restrictions of the pandemic. 

Brenna Creamer, a senior geography major, and cardio interval fitness instructor acknowledges the fact that participating in an outdoor fitness class with a mask can be extremely difficult. She encourages her students that it’s important that they listen to their body and take rest when needed. Creamer incorporates designated breaks in her class as she advises her attendees to hydrate and take a longer break if they need to during recovery periods. 

Assistant Director of fitness and wellness, Brittanie Naff, who has taught for more than four years, discussed her experience on teaching outdoor fitness classes. 

“Teaching with a mask is tough! But I understand why it must be done. Thankfully, the physical distance required in fitness classes hasn’t affected the class dynamic, and I’m sure people appreciate having the extra space,” said Naff. 

In addition to teaching outdoor fitness classes this semester, Naff described on her experience teaching a Zoom fitness class. 

“Unfortunately, my internet connection was poor so all participants had to turn off their cameras to help continue the class, which made me feel less engaged with them. With a decent wifi connection, I think Zoom fitness classes are a really great alternative for the in-person experience. You still get to be led through a workout, enjoy a music playlist prepared by the instructor, and feel connected to others who are exercising on the call with you. I encourage everyone to try it at least once.”

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