Finding fitness during a pandemic

    UWEC students are able to exercise while following social distancing measures

    More stories from Amira Lunderville


    Photo by SUBMITTED

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of classes have been switched to online, or have taken on a hybrid form. This is even true for exercise classes at UW-Eau Claire.

    Recreation and Sport Operations is just one of many departments navigating through the decision to continue offering classes online.

    “It was a really easy decision to make,” Brittany Wold, the fitness coordinator of recreation and sport operations, said. “We started developing how we were going to move through during COVID and still have great offerings for students on campus.”

    Virtual exercise classes began back in March when the university originally shut down. The group would do pre-recorded classes five days a week on YouTube and do live Zumba dance parties over Zoom on Saturdays, Wold said. 

    Now, they are doing strength and toning classes, Pilates, yoga, butts and guts training and barre/fit classes. They offer them both in-person and over Zoom.

    Visit the recreation Facebook page to schedule an exercise class and review safety guidelines. 

    Due to the pandemic, there was the question of how people were going to exercise while also following social distance protocols.

    Olivia Kropp, a barre class instructor, said each instructor has had a hard time ensuring viewers were following along or doing positions correctly — since many didn’t have the proper equipment used in classes at home.

    Each class is following strict guidelines to ensure safety for all students and instructors, Wold said. There are grids on the floor in the studios that are specifically distanced from other people, while outside you have a twelve-foot space around you.

    “In many of the classes you wear a mask throughout the workout,” Eliassah Larson, a public health major, said. “The instructors make it very doable and no big deal about the mustache sweat because we are all sweating together.”

    Attendance has been lower since the start of the semester, but that was anticipated, Wold said. People are still trying to find their rhythm in their coursework. 

    Classes have been going well even though numbers have gone down, and people have no problem following protocols, Wold said.

    “People are on board (with social distancing) because they want to keep this going,” said Wold.

    Certain classes draw different amounts of people. Signing up for the classes is on a first-come-first-served basis. The classes open three days prior to their start time and classes like cycling usually fill up within the first day, but it really just depends, said Wold.

    The classes aren’t just for experts, either, Wold said. Each class offers a different modification of each exercise. 

    When asking about what classes she recommends, Eliassah Larson couldn’t pick just one.

    “(I recommend) literally all of them! I still have more to try, and it is so fun experimenting with exercise to see what you enjoy the most!” said Larson.

    You also won’t be left out in a Zoom class. Although most students don’t have their mics or cameras on during a virtual class, instructors will make sure to check in with their participants to make sure they’re following along, said Kropp. Although some may not have the proper equipment, they make do with what they have.

    There is no pressure when taking these classes, either, said Savy Yue, an instructor.

    “I want participants to feel really good during and after the workout,” said Yue.

    If you want to get your daily dose of exercise for free check out their UW-Eau Claire page here for more information.

    Lunderville can be reached at [email protected]