PARKERSBURG — While the coronavirus has shut mostly everything down and social distancing is the norm, for a lot of people that means the loss of their routine of going to the gym.
But many gyms in the Mid-Ohio Valley decided to take the gym to the people — online.
“When we realized the impending orders to temporarily close our facility to the public were coming, our team came up with the idea to take the WVU Medicine Camden Clark Health and Wellness Center to the community and our hospital employees,” said Scott Smith, membership coordinator. “We are doing what we can with our expertise to help everyone stay healthy and active during these unprecedented times. We want to make sure that we are using the resources of our qualified staff to deliver fitness and health and wellness tips to those who are spending so much time at home.”
The Health and Wellness Center is offering at least two video classes per day, Monday through Friday, along with at least one written tip each day, via its Facebook page and direct email to the members. Smith said in addition, every Thursday starting next week, there will be a question and answer session with an exercise specialist. A YouTube channel has also been created to post pre-recorded videos.
“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response,” said Smith. “Our Facebook page has gained over 100 additional page likes and followers in the last week since our closure. Between YouTube and Facebook, our videos have over 5,000 views since Friday of last week. Our videos are free to all, and we hope that everyone will take advantage of our health and wellness features and various ways of working out at home, even if you don’t have any equipment.”
Smith said the Health and Wellness Center remains committed to helping the community during this time with its expertise in health and wellness.
“We want to know what information the community would like, and what kinds of exercise videos they would like to see.”
Those interested in contributing can send any questions or requests to the attention of Scott Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a voicemail at 304-424-2638, or a message on the Facebook page @cchealthandwellness.
Rachel Burnham, owner of Rockstar Wellness in Marietta, said creating a strong and positive community for participants has always been the goal.
“We started to explore options for offering live interactive classes for our participants a couple weeks ago as schools began closing due to COVID-19, and we were ready to start live streaming classes the first day our facility was closed,” she said.
Burnham said she wanted to offer something more than just a recorded class.
“We wanted to be able to chat with our participants just as we would in our on-site classes. Our participants have been working so hard to reach their wellness goals and we felt that we had to find a way to continue to support them,” she said. “As a new business, we were also nervous about the financial impact that a complete closure could have on our future. Live stream seemed like the best option to support our fitness family and ensure that we are financially stable as a business at this time.”
Using laptops to stream the classes after researching the best possible audio and video quality, Rockstar Wellness is offering 30-35 online interactive classes a week, including a variety of family classes to encourage kids and parents to exercise together, such as Generation POUND, Family Yoga and Family Bootcamp.
The classes are posted on its Facebook page, Rockstar Wellness LLC and the class listing is on their website, rockstarwellnessllc.com.
“We have been offering live stream classes for a week now and our clients seem to really be enjoying the classes,” said Burnham. “It is a different experience, but everyone seems to be thankful to be able to connect with one another and sweat from home.”
She said the live stream also has another side benefit.
“The live stream option has been great for those that may have been interested in trying a new class, but may have been a bit nervous about attending a class with others,” Burnham said. “We are ready to have our participants back in live classes, but we are thankful that the technology is available for us to continue to connect with others and help everyone stay active at this time.”
Stacy Houser of Temple Challenge in Parkersburg also is providing online classes for their clients.
“It gives people a sense of hope and normalcy during this time. When a lot of people are bummed that their daily gym routines/classes/daily happenings have been canceled, Temple Challenge videos or lives can bring hope and positivity in their day,” she said.
Temple Challenge is offering a new 30-minute video option Monday through Saturday on the website thetemplechallenge.com, and Facebook and Instagram.
“Each video is good for one week and can be done as many times as one wishes,” Houser said. “There are packages that someone can purchase for the month, or they are welcome to just purchase one single video for $5. I also do a free Live 60-minute Facebook and Instagram workout every Saturday at 10 a.m. at home and post motivational videos/quotes/recipes every day.”
Houser said all that is needed is access to the internet.
“They can use weights, but if they do not have them, modify them with something they have in the house: shampoo, canned food goods, etc.,” she said. “We also use towels for cones in some videos. Most importantly, I tell people to bring a positive attitude.”
The response from clients has been incredible, she said.
“I have been amazed by the participation so far during this time. It has truly been a blessing,” Houser said. “It is awesome seeing people send me videos or pictures of their families all doing it together. It is bringing people together all while keeping them healthy.”
Houser wants to help the Mid-Ohio Valley.
“One of my main goals of Temple Challenge is to make a difference and be a light mentally, physically and spiritually. While people are having to stay inside and some are depressed and have anxiety about what the future holds, it is important that I can help in any way possible in our community and surrounding areas,” she said.
Memorial Health System also is offering online classes to the public with its LiveMemorialWell Social Series, including classes on Learning, Eating and Moving. In Move, their fitness and wellness specialists are hosting live workout sessions at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. All are meant to be done at home with no equipment, varying from 15-35 minutes long and modifications offered for all fitness levels. All classes will be posted on their Facebook page MHSystem as an event, so people can schedule their attendance.
Local cheer gyms also are putting programs online. Ohio Valley All Stars/Cheer Elite One in Parkersburg moved its practices online March 17.
“We decided to close at the end of business as we often have more than 50 athletes in the gym at a time or over the course of an evening,” said owners Kathy Azar and Kari Geary. “With safety and health as our top priority, we felt it was the best decision.”
At the time, many things were up in the air for the teams. “It was an extremely difficult decision as we have three of our competitive all star teams that have earned bids to attend the D2 Summit. This is a huge honor and the first time in the 21 year history of Ohio Valley All Stars that all eligible teams have qualified,” she said. “Additionally, we have a World’s team that has been training to earn their bid to the Cheerleading Worlds. At this time, the D2 Summit and the Cheerleading Worlds, which are held in Disney World, have been postponed. We are patiently awaiting a new date. Everything came to a stop very abruptly and we are all heartbroken.”
The owners said they wanted their athletes to stay active and have a sense of normalcy. “They are used to being in the gym 2-4 nights a week practicing and tumbling. One of our coaches, Amy Johnson, immediately started exploring the idea of virtual classes via Zoom and we were having our first classes by the evening of March 18,” she said.
The gym does four classes a day, starting with a 10 a.m. workout every day. “We have had several of our coaches and parents joining as well,” Azar and Geary said. “Last week we did approximately 14 sessions, and this week we started having ‘virtual team practices’ with our teams so they can see each other, set goals to work towards while we aren’t able to be in the gym and complete a workout together.”
Younger kids are also joining in. “For our tiny team (ages 4-6) we had our coach Michelle Carr lead an ‘ABC Workout’ with an exercise for each letter of the alphabet. At the end of the practice they had a ‘show and tell’ so they could each show off a skill. They loved it!”
The owners said the staff uses their onhand technology — phones, tablets and computers with the Zoom app — to host the sessions. Each team has a GroupMe and private Facebook group in which the classes and links are posted in the evening for the next day.
The participation was amazing from athletes and their families, said Azar and Geary.
“We have also had fun challenges and activities during the evenings. We did a makeup challenge where athletes did a parent’s makeup ‘competition ready’ in two minutes and thirty seconds,” Azar said. “We have also done a few scavenger hunts. Each Zoom workout or activity that they participate in earns a point for their team. Naturally, they are very competitive and this has motivated them. We are posting a leader board at the end of each week, and the parents are even becoming competitive with it.
“They have loved it and are constantly asking what is next. The all star cheerleading community is truly amazing. Through social media gyms around the country have been sharing ideas for interacting with athletes and keeping them active.”
While the situation is not ideal, the owners said the athletes and their families are making the best of a difficult situation.
Contact Amy Phelps at email@example.com