The Ups and Downs of Fitness Instruction During a Pandemic

By Chelsea Coghill

By Chelsea Coghill

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A random quote I found on Facebook one day used a new term that accurately conveys how I am feeling during the pandemic: "Coronacoaster: (noun) The ups and downs of a pandemic." For me, the ups and downs have felt extreme. At the onset of the pandemic, many of us experienced a full spectrum of emotions as facilities, buildings, and businesses started to slowly close - then BAM, the work from home order was made. Initially, I was somewhat elated to move to a home office and enjoy my own personal space without the hustle and bustle of a commute and busy campus life. But shortly thereafter the lack of a regular, structured work day and the uncertainty of what may happen in the future started to consume me. What do I do? What do I prioritize? Am I going to run out of work?

Luckily, this phase was short-lived as my colleagues and I made the collective decision to keep delivering our fitness and recreation programming by moving classes from in-person to online. Now, I can barely keep up with the influx in demand for our online services from our ever-expanding, virtual audience. It has been a wild ride for sure. Some days are wonderfully productive and satisfying. Other days can feel like complete write-offs mentally and emotionally - with the only variable actually changing being the date.

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My constant has been my commitment to my own personal physical practice. I have relied on the support from my fitness community and have participated in home workouts from the day the closures occurred. Maintaining my own physical and mental wellness has saved me on more levels than I can express, and has allowed me the ability to effectively contribute and adapt to new strategies at work. As a fitness leader for Campus & Community Recreation I play an integral role in instructing and planning the delivery of our programs to our new online community. Filming short social media posts and video workouts soon turned into leading full-on virtual, live group fitness classes. This was a daunting undertaking for our whole team and a steep learning curve for all of us. But, bit by bit, we transformed our in-person presence into a virtual one, providing value to our community in new ways and offering them the ability to be active at home during an extremely challenging time. We all need movement to nourish our bodies and minds. We know the benefits of movement and exercise are far reaching on not only physical levels, but on mental and emotional levels as well - and now is definitely the time that this is needed most. What our participants have communicated to us has been more than worth the effort:

"Hi Chelsea, I just watched your "stretch break" video and wanted to send a thank you for sharing some simple movement exercises I can do throughout the day while working from home. Having struggled with Pulmonary Embolisms twice in the past, I am so grateful to have simple exercises that allow those of us who struggle with health issues to be able to do! As it's easy to sit for hours on end when work gets busy, I have set a timer to get up and move while doing a few of your exercises every 30 minutes. It has increased my alertness and productivity throughout my work day. You are literally saving my life. Thank you so much for posting the video, I'm excited to check out the others too!""stretch break" video and wanted to send a thank you for sharing some simple movement exercises I can do throughout the day while working from home. Having struggled with Pulmonary Embolisms twice in the past, I am so grateful to have simple exercises that allow those of us who struggle with health issues to be able to do! As it's easy to sit for hours on end when work gets busy, I have set a timer to get up and move while doing a few of your exercises every 30 minutes. It has increased my alertness and productivity throughout my work day. You are literally saving my life. Thank you so much for posting the video, I'm excited to check out the others too!"

- Leanne, YouTube Subscriber, CCR Fitness Instruction Videos

Thanks for the free virtual classes offered through CCR! I like being able to try classes that I wouldn't normally try otherwise and to 'test drive' the instructors. I like that I can do the exercises in my living room, anonymously. The intimidation factor is zero, the prep is minimal, and there aren't any obligations to commit. It's a great sampling opportunity to see what I like (Boot Camp), laugh with Chelsea about 'sloshing' movements, learn from Kat (so zen!). Kudos on a great idea and great range of offerings!

- Mel, CCR Live Virtual Fitness Class Participant

Our team collaboration and support has also been outstanding. Being a newer staff member, having only started in November, I am still not only settling into my role but also getting to know all of our department members. This current time has shown me how grateful I am to be a part of such an amazing team. We all have different strengths, skills and experiences, and watching all of those meld together has resulted in a phenomenal online presence for our community and an enhanced feeling of togetherness for our staff (even though most of us haven't seen each other in person for months)!

Our future plans and goals have certainly shifted and changed through this experience. We plan to continue to offer high quality, virtual fitness services to our community even after we start to re-open our facilities. Though there is still some uncertainty, I feel confident that my CCR team has become stronger than ever, and is ready to respond to any scenario the future brings us.

This whole experience is teaching me to be more present in each moment, to find acceptance and peace among uncertainty, and that I am able to adapt to uncomfortable situations - no matter how challenging. My thoughts have become less consumed with worry, and more focused on self-care and reflection. Where am I now? Where is my breath? What am I experiencing in my mind and body in this moment? I believe that this pandemic has challenged everyone to overcome their own set of obstacles in their own unique way. It is from this experience that we've developed the tools to allow us to approach future challenges with a new perspective, and the strength to know that we will continue to learn, grow, and succeed together as a team.

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About Chelsea

Chelsea Coghill is a Fitness Programs Coordinator for Campus & Community Recreation in the Faculty of KSR. With a Bachelor of Science in psychology, fitness, and health science, mental and physical health and resilience has been Chelsea's passion, hobby, and profession for the last 15 years. Chelsea has a strong desire to empower others to build strength and confidence through leading cycling, yoga, strength, and Primal (MovNat) group exercise classes.

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

Live fitness and recreation classes via Zoom

Browse CCR's online Summer 2020 Recreation Guide

Visit the Stay Active, Stay Well YouTube Channel

Additional resources can also be found on CCR's website