Staying Active and Well During a Pandemic

By Christine Legault

By Christine Legault

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I once read an inspirational quote from author Catherine DeVrye which said "focus on what you can do rather than stress about what you have no control over." As an advocate of her advice, it helped me make a crucial decision during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: to focus on action and stay positive. The abrupt closure of our Campus & Community Recreation (CCR) facilities and programming left us with one main objective: how do we continue offering our community, students, and staff ways to stay active and well - from home?

Finding solutions to deliver fitness and recreational programming online while working remotely has not been an easy feat. As I write this I am working from my makeshift work station in my bedroom. My three-year-old daughter is asking me to play (every few minutes), my 12-year-old is on her phone (…again), and my seven-year-old is asking me to help correct her school work (how much room does "correct" allow for subjectivity?).

I have several deadlines to meet and the pressure to spend quality time with my family is growing. Though I have not prepared for these working conditions, I am finding that my greatest struggle during this time is also emerging as my greatest triumph - the melding of my "hats". My "hats" used to be clearly defined. When I was wearing my "mom hat," my work could wait. When I put on my "fitness instructor hat," I could teach with no interruptions. And, when I went to work in my "Associate Director hat" for CCR, my office offered a structured balance of productivity and positive engagement from my fantastic colleagues. Now though, my "hats" have melded together, and I find myself wearing all of them at once.

Surprisingly enough, it was in acquiring this new "melded hat" scenario, that I was able to draw inspiration to develop a new online "Learn to Run" series, as well as collaborate with fellow co-workers and fitness instructors in the creation of various other ways to deliver online programming, resources, and live fitness instruction. I knew that running impacted me during hard times in my life more than any other wellness initiative and I was hoping it would help others as well.

I drew inspiration from my modified "mom hat" experiences during the pandemic in volunteering to coach my daughter's virtual online soccer classes. This is incredibly different from coaching in-person. The soccer team participates in their online workouts through live Zoom classes, then get to discuss techniques with each other afterwards. It is inspiring to see them talk about their hardships and their successes. As a mom, I struggle to maintain social interaction for my daughters. My hope is that each of them understand that we are in this together and will come out of this stronger (not just physically after participating in my Learn to Run series, but mentally too).

I also drew inspiration from my modified "Associate Director hat." As an organization, the pandemic has compelled us to remember our core values and why we wish to start offering instruction online during this time. CCR's vision is to inspire and empower exceptional life experiences through recreation, sport and wellness. Why should this change during a pandemic?

Now, approaching week seven of my "Learn to Run" series, I am finding my kids becoming more eager to participate as I film the instruction - especially when contributing to the blooper reels. My kids have found a new love for being active! Though I don't get to interact with the audience participants or see them thrive in the same way as an in-person class, their reaction is still positive. As the following for the running series grows each week on CCR's social media and YouTube channel, so too does the feedback from the participants, regarding the positive effect the series has had on their motivation, physical, and mental well-being. Having my series recorded online not only allows for the reach of a broader audience, but also allows for people to start their journey at their own pace being able to re-watch previous videos in the series at any time.

There is something magical about being active. It is so important to incorporate and maintain physical activity in our daily lives - especially during these uncertain, stressful times. Physical activity has been linked to many positive physiological responses as well as positive mental health responses, helping to improve quality of life by enhancing self-esteem, improving mood, increasing resilience to stress, and improving sleep.

This sudden transition from in-person fitness and recreation programming to online delivery may not be what we are used to, and we are all adapting to our unique learning curves. However, we are finding increasingly positive outcomes as we progress in this movement. Online programming not only offers a level of accessibility that our usual programming methods previously may not have been able to achieve in the same way, but teaches us as an organization that no matter what obstacles we encounter, when we work together we are able to adapt to meet any challenge - and thrive.

Stay active, stay well.

Campus & Community Recreation continues to develop new resources each week: Campus & Community Recreation continues to develop new resources each week:

Live fitness and recreation classes via Zoom (Yoga, Meditation, Sculpt, Kung Fu, Dance)

Visit the Stay Active, Stay Well YouTube Channel here

Additional resources can also be found on CCR's website

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About Christine

Christine Legault is an Associate Director with Campus & Community Recreation and a certified fitness instructor of more than 15 years. She obtained her AFLCA Trainer of Fitness Leader status nine years ago and have been assessing new fitness leaders ever since. She loves teaching the new generation of fitness leaders about the body and the impact that physical activity can have on a person and seeing them bring their learnings into their communities. Christine graduated from the University of Alberta Kinesiology program in 2007 where her love of physical activity grew immensely. Incorporating her academic learnings and practical experiences have made her the fitness leader she is today. Christine also loves to run all distances year-round. Whether there is snow on the ground or sunshine in the sky, she can be seen often hitting the pavement around the university.