OU Fit+Rec Goes Virtual, Bringing Workouts to Your Home
Campus fitness centers have temporarily closed their doors due to the threat of COVID-19, but OU Fitness and Recreation isn’t letting that stop them from offering workouts.
Last week, Fit+Rec took its classes online, offering daily workouts through Facebook Live. Monday through Friday at 11 a.m., viewers can participate in a live 30- to 45-minute virtual class. Even after the livestream has concluded, the videos remain available on Fit+Rec’s Facebook page.
Amy Davenport, director of Fit+Rec who also teaches Gentle Yoga on campus, explained how the idea developed.
“I woke up on the Monday of spring break completely bummed about circumstances beyond our control due to COVID-19,” she said. “A mantra I use in yoga is ‘recognize and release’ – in other words, recognize what is bothering you, and release it to move forward.”
“At about 10:15 a.m. that day, I decided that even though the Sarkeys Fitness Center was closed, we could still do yoga, and it was likely needed for the community. By 12:30 p.m., the class was streaming live on Facebook.”
Davenport taught the session live from her living room, with her dogs Daisy and Chloe periodically appearing alongside her.
Comments from viewers streamed in: “Just what we needed! Thank you!” “Thanks for your willingness to help the OU community to stay active while we are at home. YOU ROCK!!” “Thank you for providing this – it’s the first yoga I’ve ever done, and I’m already looking forward to the next one!” …to name a few.
After that successful first class, Davenport and Malinda Williams, assistant director of Fit+Rec, agreed to go live each day at 11 a.m. – Davenport teaching yoga, and Williams leading HIIT – high-intensity interval training – classes.
Ever since then, each live session has been sprinkled with supportive and upbeat comments. Last week’s Facebook Live workouts have nearly 8,000 views and counting.
Davenport said the positive feedback convinced her that the project was making a difference in the OU community.
“It’s our way of connecting with the community and helping our members stay on course with their health during this most difficult time,” Davenport said, noting that the benefits of staying active go well beyond the physical rewards.
“So many times, we relate exercise to muscles and how we look. It's much deeper than that. Studies show that regular physical activity helps the brain to function better including learning, processing and judgment skills. In addition, exercise helps to reduce anxiety, depression and stress. Exercise can also help you get a better night's rest which creates even more health benefits.”
Davenport said Fit+Rec will continue offering Facebook Live workouts for the foreseeable future and intends to add topics, such as interpreting referee calls and sport-based workouts. Fit+Rec also is preparing to utilize Zoom to offer free wellness coaching to the OU community.
“Through wellness coaching, we hope to assist participants in reaching their personal goals, whether it's focusing on a particular project, personal fitness or weight loss,” Davenport said.
Davenport’s advice for anyone interested in joining a virtual workout class is the same as exercising in-person.
“Always ensure that whatever exercise plan you do, listen to your body. I'm often asked, ‘What's the best exercise to do?’ My response is simple: find something that makes you happy and makes you feel good. If you do something you don't like, you won't stick to it.”
Article Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020