Since last March, it seems that many days are spent sitting down in front of a computer screen. With COVID-19 lockdowns, online learning or work and self-isolation, people are staying home much more than usual. For many, this means that they are not able to get as much exercise as before the pandemic.
Though the University of Winnipeg (U of W) Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre has been closed since March 2019, the Recreation Services department is offering free online fitness classes to all members of the public.
Tricia Klassen, manager of the Fitness Centre, encourages students to take advantage of what is being offered.
“We have a wide variety of classes that we’re offering, such as yoga, a barre circuit and a total-body workout,” she says. All classes are held via Zoom.
Klassen notes that these classes are accessible to beginners.
“The level is definitely good for everybody, and we try to keep it simple,” she says. In fact, equipment is not needed for any of the classes, though those who wish to have a more challenging workout have the option to use dumbbells and bands.
“The focus is getting people moving ... in an inclusive environment where everyone can feel comfortable,” Klassen says.
She adds that she and her colleagues miss having day-to-day contact with centre members.
Currently, fitness facilities are closed in Manitoba due to public-health orders. Klassen says plans are in place to have a more COVID-friendly space when the centre reopens – which will happen when the rest of the university reopens.
Iris Griffin, a U of W Fitness Centre patron, is enrolled in four of their online classes.
“I work remotely, and having the classes scheduled into my day is the perfect break,” she says, adding that she is as active as she was before the pandemic.
“Staying active is always important,” Griffin says. “Right now, it’s even more important from a mental-health and health perspective.”
So far in January, participation in online classes offered by the Fitness Centre has doubled. However, for those who might not want to register for a fitness class, there are other ways to stay active.
“Taking small walk breaks during the day or things like that can definitely help,” Klassen says. The U of W Athletic Therapy Centre’s website also has easy-to-follow exercise programs posted.
“It’s really important (to stay active), especially now that we’re all so separate,” Klassen says. “If someone doesn’t want to take a fitness class, they could dance to their favourite music or (do their) favourite exercise while watching TV.”
Studies have shown that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s average screen time has increased, while average exercise time has decreased.
“Exercise is really important for well-being,” Klassen says. “Just moving is really important.”
Information on the U of W’s Recreation Services department’s online fitness classes can be found at bit.ly/3bHdVY7.
Published in Volume 75, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 20, 2021)