How are Behavioral health and nutrition exercise classes continuing online?

Fitness classes online Illustration
​The university’s popular behavioral health and nutrition classes have had to make a few changes due to the pandemic.

​Contributing Reporter​

The one credit behavioral health and nutrition (BHAN) group fitness classes at the university are some of the most popular classes available to students. They allow students to choose from yoga, pilates, cycling, bootcamp and more, and fit them in their schedules. They tend to fill up rapidly during course selection season and students with the most amount of credits, or upperclassmen, typically make up most of the classes.

With the current switch from in-person to the online format, drastic changes occurred, since in-person attendance was the largest aspect of these pass-fail classes.

“Once we went online, all of our usual workouts became null and void simply because most, if not all, students do not have a bike,” Rita Crowley, a cycling instructor at the university, said. “Therefore, live classes using Zoom was not an option.”

Along with indoor cycling, Crowley also teaches pump and plyometrics, bootcamp and pilates. Throughout her classes, she likes to stress the importance of personal interaction among the class, which was ultimately lost when transitioning to the online format.

“I chose not to do live classes simply because as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, I have access to a wide diversity of workout formats,” Crowley said. “One can truly find a good workout in an online setting. They are just missing the personal contact, which is our new world at this moment in time. I do believe the educational value has decreased simply because I am a big advocate and proponent of group fitness and I am a personal interaction-type person.”

Students in Crowley’s classes complete weekly workouts via YouTube and other fitness outlets and then complete a writing assignment and some mental health reflections.

“I was so excited to be able to take a BHAN exercise class this semester as it was the first time it fit in my schedule,” Danielle Sugar, a senior medical diagnostics major in Crowley’s cycling class, said. “Once we switched to online classes I was disappointed. I like that Crowley is still sending weekly exercises. However, I don’t think they are quite as good of a workout as cycling for a full class period two times a week was.”

Another problem with conducting workout classes online, is there is no way for the instructor to critique the student and guide them to work more effectively.
“I was able to see the students’ movements and correct any unsafe tendencies in the moment, remind them of strategies and notice physical limitations,” Jamie O’Hara, a total body tone instructor, said. “In person, I was also able to develop relationships and learn about the general well-being of each student.”

Total body tone incorporates various, intense exercises using weights and other workout equipment to shape the entire body. O’Hara also teaches an exercise and conditioning class and has implemented two workouts per week through Canvas. She also gave the option to her students to write a written response in place of the workout if they are not feeling well.

“Some students are having trouble focusing, having difficulty with motivation and mental well-being, some are worried about their loved ones, and some are sick themselves,” O’Hara said.

Without access to the equipment that was being used in class, students have to make do with what they have in quarantine.

“I personally am doing my best to exercise during this quarantine, but not being physically present in the class makes it easier to slack off or skip a workout because there isn’t anyone there holding us accountable,” Rachel Baker, a senior hospitality major, said. “As someone who works out a lot anyway, I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to fully partake in this class because like most people, I don’t have access to any of the same equipment at home, so my workouts have to be much more broad and relatively equipment free.”

Baker takes a strength and conditioning course that used to be held in the smaller Independence Hall gym, which focuses on learning to weight train through free weights and other gym equipment

“Now that classes are online, our instructor gives us two assignments each week,” Baker said. “These assignments are much more broad than the typical workouts we would normally focus on in class, and they range from home workout videos, push-up challenges, designing our own workouts, etcetera.”

There is typically no written work required outside of the classroom for these BHAN classes, so this is unfamiliar to the students.

“Each week we have two assignments, one brief journal entry and one exercise assignment,” Emma Winkley, a senior civil engineering major taking yoga, said. “The writing assignment is about the ideology of yoga, like deep breathing and other topics along those lines, and the exercise assignment you follow along with a video that the instructor posts on Canvas.”

Staying motivated and keeping up with class work from the comfort of quarantine can be hard to manage, but Winkley is optimistic.

“It’s not as effective as an in-person class but [the instructor] is trying her best,” Winkley said. “It was a weird switch at first but the instructor was very positive in her announcements and videos.”

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