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Group fitness across distance

Zoom calls and livestreams on Instagram and Facebook have become part of most people’s daily routines, taking the place of lectures, meetings, special events and even workout sessions.

Kate Stumph, a sophomore creative writing major, has found exercising to be a good way to keep her sane while in quarantine.

“I’ve been trying to find healthy ways to deal with my mental health while at home, and I found working out to be one,” Stumph said.

As the “sunshine chair” for her sorority Phi Sigma Sigma, her job consists of doing little things to spread positivity throughout the chapter. With now limited opportunities to do so, she suggested an online “Zoomba” class to the president of her sorority.

As a certified zumba instructor, Stumph does zumba every day. She likes zumba because she thinks it’s an easy way to exercise and get her heart rate up. Also, it requires no equipment, just music.

“[Zumba] was my go-to-thing that I found really fun and wanted to share with other people,” Stumph said.

Stumph held her first class on Zoom on April 29, and she said eight or nine girls attended. 

“Being alone almost 24/7 kinda sucks, and being able to see even glimpses of my friends from Miami helps a lot even if it’s only once a week,” she said.

Junior kinesiology major Taylor Vandenbroek was recently elected ambassador of Miami’s CHAARG (Changing Health Attitudes and Recreating Girls) chapter. CHAARG is an all-girls workout group that typically meets twice a week on campus. 

“Since we’re a fitness org centered on social interaction, this has been very difficult for us,” Vandenbroek said. “Going from seeing a group of girls every week to not even seeing or hearing from them has been really hard.”

To adapt to no longer being able to meet in person, the chapter has been promoting the national organization’s Zoom classes and online fitness gurus to encourage girls to stay active. They also hold social activities over Zoom, such as making vision boards together, and stay connected through Instagram.

Vandenbroek says they’re trying to send out the message that “we’re still a community and here for you even though we can’t physically be with you.”

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Emily Bufler, owner and instructor at Root Yoga in Oxford, had to adjust her studio’s model to teach classes remotely.

Before Root Yoga closed on March 13, it offered about 30 yoga classes per week. Bufler knew right away that she wanted the studio to continue offering classes after its closure. 

Instructors now teach one free class every day over Facebook and Instagram livestreams. Even though there are less classes and less variation within them, they try to offer at least one class from each style of yoga every week.

“[The transition has] definitely not been easy,” Bufler said. “I feel like we’re in a groove now, but there was a one- or two-week learning period.”

This learning period included instructors getting comfortable teaching a class to a camera and working through technical issues.

According to Bufler, an average of five  to15 people tune into livestreams, with their largest audience being between 40 and 50 people, more than can fit in the studio. After a stream ends, people are still able to view it on Root Yoga’s Facebook page, where up to 150 more people usually watch it.

Although the situation is not ideal, it does have some upsides. Remote classes have given some people the opportunity to try something new without fear of being judged. They also provide a sense of normalcy to people who attended classes.

“By keeping even one part of your life somewhat normal, it helps with coping,” Bufler said. “Even if it’s not the same … knowing they can interact with each other in the comments and see familiar faces of the instructors … I think that’s helped a lot.”