Virtual Fitness

Virtual Fitness Classes

Working out in the middle of a global pandemic is probably not at the top of your list right now. However, a pandemic is no excuse to stop exercising and maintaining healthy habits. With fitness centers at limited capacity, many people have started to turn their homes into a personal gym.

Monmouth University’s Athletic Department has been working non-stop to offer students various opportunities to get fit from the comfort of their own home. With a little help from Zoom and Instagram Live, there are many virtual classes to get the University community moving. Two popular classes are “Abs, Legs, and Butt” and “Humans for Yoga.”

Jon Cascone, Associate Athletics Director for Recreation, Intramural and Club Sports, said that the most difficult part about coordinating virtual fitness class is the technology. However, the department had already been looking to incorporate virtual classes before COVID-19, so they were ahead of the game when the pandemic forced everyone to go virtual.

Cascone said that the student response to virtual classes have been mixed ever since students returned for the fall semester. “There have been some that prefer it online because they don’t have to leave their room, but there are some that prefer it in person getting that instruction,” he said. “It is just hard to find the right time that fits for students and the instructors as well.”

Skylar Paletta, a senior health studies student with a concentration in exercise science, is the instructor for “Abs, Legs, and Butt.” Paletta finds this class difficult to teach over Zoom because not everyone has the same access to equipment. She has to, “Think on the spot and tell different people to do different variations of a similar exercise based on the equipment they had on hand (if any).”

Other challenges Paletta has faced while teaching virtual fitness classes include keeping her students motivated and the difficulty of assessing their form through a computer screen. The number of students looking to work out has decreased since the beginning of the pandemic, but Paletta has received a lot more support than she expected. She attributes this decline in participation to a lack of motivation some students may be experiencing during the pandemic.

She said, “While I am not sure if others lost motivation due to the same reason as me, I wouldn’t doubt that a lot of people lost motivation due to the fact that they needed someone to get them to the gym on a lazy day or needed a trainer or class to teach them exercises and hold them accountable, or simply just not having equipment or space at home.”

Some tips Paletta offers for those who may not be comfortable going to a gym (or if their gym isn’t open) is to get moving, setting specific goals, and finding a fitness friend.

Roman Vai, a senior business marketing student, teaches “Yoga for Humans” via Instagram Live (@roman_vai_). Practicing yoga may be uncomfortable to some people, but to Vai, yoga is a very personal activity.

Instagram Live also provides anonymity during the workout. Vai said, “There are no names involved. You hop in, you hop out, and it’s like a therapy session. If I am on Instagram, I like not knowing how many people are doing it, so I just pretend that the entire world is doing it.”

Yoga in particular is a great way to help students navigate these stressful times. “At the beginning of my yoga classes, I ask everybody to set an intention for the flow and then at the end, your intention is just part of your thought-process and it helps answer questions about your day,” said Vai. “It’s just helpful for your mind and physicality, and it’s just something very unique about yoga.”

By the end of his class, he hopes that students “Feel like they did something healthy and mindful at the end of [the session].”

Jamie Pigman Ph.D., Lecturer of the Department of Health and Physical Education, said that to make the most of these virtual fitness classes, students should ask questions and participate as much as possible. He said, “Try your best to participate and interact as if the class was face-to-face. Additionally, perform the physical tasks with integrity, intent and intensity.”

However, Pigman does recognize that this pandemic has caused many people to feel less motivated to work out. “Focus your attention as well as your physical and mental effort towards things you can control,” he suggested. “Dedicating time and performing regular exercise will increase your feeling of control and likely result in an increase in your motivation to exercise.”

One last tip Pigman recommends is listening to specific music that will get you pumped before and during the exercise routine.

Paletta recommends that everyone check out the Monmouth Recreation Instagram Page, @monmouth_rec, which includes live stories of fitness classes as well as class schedules. Dates and times for virtual classes can also be found on the Experience Monmouth app.

Paletta said, “[I encourage] everyone to try classes with us and let’s keep the momentum building.”


IMAGE TAKEN from @monmouth_rec Instagram