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Online exercise programs help students stay active while social distancing

The Student Activities Center sits across from south campus at Central Michigan University on Dec. 1.

With the coronavirus pandemic closing businesses and leaving millions stuck at home, many fitness and recreation facilities are finding opportunities to bring their activities to people's homes. 

Whether workouts are hosted on Facebook Live, Youtube, or other online livestream and video platforms, gyms and fitness centers are still able to deliver their workout regimens to their customers. 

Central Michigan University’s Recreation department partnered up with over 40 other universities to launch the 2020 Recreation Movement, a website that provides students, faculty and alumni with live and prerecorded videos of various recreational class sessions daily.

Jeff Calhoun, director of marketing and business for University Recreation, said the chance to continue teaching students was one the program could not pass up. 

“We thought it was a great opportunity,” Calhoun said. “We’ve been moving along, and it’s quite a development. It’s a way for 40 or so universities to work together and provide everyone an opportunity to stay active.”

Any student, alumnus or faculty member from the partnered institutions can register on by creating an account with their university email. Once logged in, participants can view and join classes, as well as log their daily movement, whether it is from a class or an independent activity.

There are hundreds of classes hosted in the program, ranging from "Level 1 Yoga" to "Cardio Boxing Bootcamp," as well as options for accessible workouts for those with disabilities. 

“It’s kind of a potpourri of classes,” Calhoun said. “The amount of content that is being uploaded in such a short period of time is awesome, and I think it will continue to expand.” 

Calhoun said the program runs until May 3 but may be extended throughout the summer.

Like CMU’s initiative to keep students and faculty active, many local businesses are working hard to keep their clients healthy and active while staying home. 

Jeremy Worthington and his wife Susie are the owners of CrossFit Worthy, the only CrossFit facility in Mount Pleasant. 

CrossFit is a training style that focuses on both exercise and diet, ensuring that their participants are consuming the right nutrients to support their fitness regimen and health. The exercises are typically described as high-intensity, relying on a large variation of movement—weightlifting, running and core training, among others. 

Equipped with a full gym of equipment, Worthington and his staff of personal coaches work hard to ensure their clients are receiving the best service possible, providing coaching both in a group setting and individually. 

With the enforcement of the statewide stay-at-home order, CrossFit Worthy had to find a way to continue providing for their clients. Now, everything is done online. 

“Every single morning, our clients get an individual email with a workout personalized to what equipment they have at home, as well as their specific needs,” Worthington said. “Everything’s still very individualized, and that is a way for us to encourage people to continue training at home.”

The coaches at CrossFit Worthy continue to maintain bonds with their clients, offering personal training through video chatting platforms like Zoom. 

While working with returning clients online, their attention is equally placed on providing proper support and safety to those who are just getting started or seeking to begin CrossFit. 

“Through online with new clients, it’ll still function essentially the same as in-person,” Worthington said. “They need a lot more visual coaching, as well as time building a relationship with a coach. All of that would be based off of Zoom, so the coaches can give instant feedback to ensure they are moving the best way they can.” 

By providing new clients with more personal coaching sessions, CrossFit Worthy strives to ensure their safety and help prevent injury, especially when beginning a lifestyle as intense as CrossFit. 

“We put a premium on coaching and teaching people how to move well, progress and how to not get hurt in the process,” Worthington said. “People can get really hurt doing workouts that don’t have a plan or a progression.”

Once restrictions are lifted, Worthington said he plans to build an opportunity out of utilizing remote workouts. 

By giving new clients an option to receive personalized coaching sessions through video chat platforms, people who have schedules that overlap sessions can maintain their workout regimen from home.

“Physical location is awesome, but in reality, it’s just a tool that helps us deliver health and fitness,” Worthington said. “We can deliver it however we need to as long as we maintain open communication and strong relationships with our clients and athletes.”