Virtual workouts keep those quarantined moving

Jessica Moyer of Ice House Wellness & Community in Wyoming instructs a virtual workout. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — At the beginning of March, Jessica Moyer decided to start a virtual workout challenge group on Facebook for her clients.

It was the first foray into online workouts for Ms. Moyer, the owner of The Ice House: Wellness & Community in Wyoming. Little did she know, this was a preview of how workouts would be conducted for the near future.

Virtual workouts became the norm with gyms closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instructors like Ms. Moyer are instead reaching their clients on Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube and other video platforms.

“It was ironic it happened that way,” Ms. Moyer said. “I set that group up in early March and once everything happened, it kind of rolled through with people who were already in that group.”

Leading a class through a computer screen presents new challenges for fitness instructors, said Ali Bendarik, owner of MOMentum Fitness in Dover.

She’s adjusted her workouts for the online world. Monday and Wednesdays are shorter, high-intensity interval training. She also provides iGrappling-inspired workouts and barre classes to focus on core strength. Friday are recovery days taught by another MOMentum Fitness instructor Melanie Utley, featuring recovery stretches and PiYo — a yoga and pilates fusion class.

“It’s really hard to stay engaged with people inside their homes for more than 25 minutes,” Ms. Bednarik said. “I want to get everyone up moving and get their heart rate going.”

Gyms all over have pivoted to video workouts until clients are allowed back inside.

The Dover YMCA’s Virtual Y program provides classes on Facebook Live. For those who can’t make the live broadcast, it also has on-demand classes for yoga, pilates, Les Mills, barre, kids’ zone workouts and active older adult classes on its website.

The OrangeTheory Fitness in Dover is posting daily YouTube videos featuring different OrangeTheory coaches from around the country. CrossFit Dover is having a weekly challenge for members to earn points for three different categories — nutrition, fitness and lifestyle.

Ms. Moyer does a little bit of everything at Ice House from stretching, to meditation, barre, barre-fight, dance and boot camps. The classes are live on Facebook but they are archived so clients have the option to watch the class later on their own time.

Ms. Moyer, who is also a life coach, still misses the face-to-face interaction though.

“It definitely has its challenges,” Ms. Moyer said. “I give a lot of directions and modifications so it’s hard not being able to see your clients. A majority of people prefer live classes for the camaraderie. Some people say it’s hard to stay motivated when they’re at home.”

Ms. Bednarik goes live on Zoom Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. She posts what the workout will be beforehand so people have an idea of what to prepare for before joining.

MOMentum Fitness is geared toward mothers with busy schedules and Ms. Bednarik said she was initially worried how the pandemic would affect their workouts.

“It’s all about getting moms out of the house to work out and having them be able to bring their children with them,” Ms. Bednarik said. “Through all the movement we do, you feel so much more confident and you have more energy. My worst fear when this started was members who made so much progress would pull back because it can be hard isolating.”

“But I’ve been really happy with how we built this program,” she added. “It’s more than hopping online and doing a workout. We’re continuing to make sure we help then and get them stronger.”

In addition to her workouts for her clients, Ms. Moyer said Ice House has done free instruction, such as virtual dance classes for schools.

She stressed the importance of staying active despite everything going on in the world right now.

“I think it’s critical for mental health,” Ms. Moyer sad. “It’s important physically for you to stay healthy to take care of your body but I’m worried more about the mental aspect right now. I’ve definitely had to reach out more, just to check in with everyone.”

Ice House is planning on opening June 1 when Delaware begins its first phase of its reopening plan. Ms. Moyer said she will adhere to any guidelines imposed by the state.

According to the plans outlined by Gov. John Carney, gyms can open at 30 percent fire code capacity on June 1. Classes will be capped at 10 people with strict social distancing guidelines. Gyms will have to follow cleaning protocols to disinfect equipment.

While the current situation is not ideal for local gyms, Ms. Bednarik said she was able to find some positives, such as former clients who left because of busy schedules are now returning virtually due to being at home all the time.

“The one big thing is being able to work with clients I haven’t been able to work with in a while,” Ms. Bednarik said. “I have been able to reach more people out there now. It’s like making lemonade out of lemons. We’re just trying to make the best of it.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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