Fitness classes, intramural sports go digital

Only one month ago, the gyms and recreation centers around the university campus went about its normal type of week. Fitness classes were in session and intramural sports were underway.

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Bianca Thiruchittampalam/THE

Fitness classes and intramural Esports are among two of the activities that campus recreation is offering to students, faculty and staff.

Associate Sports Editor

Only one month ago, the gyms and recreation centers around the university campus went about its normal type of week. Fitness classes were in session and intramural sports were underway.

Now, as it closes in on a full month having passed since most of campus shut down, campus recreation is investing in online substitutes such as Zoom, Twitch and online gaming to keep the same offerings that students and faculty previously had on campus.

“We are finding ways to keep our students connected,” Karen Freed, director of recreation said. “The full well-being of our students is crucial.”

The university is currently offering free virtual fitness classes that are taught by university fitness instructors through Zoom. There are up to three different classes offered per day and the schedule changes on a weekly basis, offering participants a new selection of courses each week.

Along with fitness courses offered by campus recreation, the university is currently partnering with Les Mills, an online fitness website. The website is currently offering more than 100 free classes to students.

The class topics include dance-formatted workouts, yoga lessons, body combat exercises, strengthening and cardio workouts. The classes are taught by instructors with experience in teaching topics to large conferences and groups of people.

The combination of these offerings to students in terms of fitness comes down to one big thing: health. Christine Pena, director of recreation fitness, sees this as an opportunity to help students in these different circumstances.

“We are trying to get people to increase their activity level,” Pena said. “We want to let the students know we are still here for them.”

For the remainder of the spring, campus recreation is also offering intramural sports through the use of video games and online gaming services such as Xbox Live, Playstation Plus and Twitch.

Currently, Madden NFL 20, FIFA 20 and NBA 2K20 are the games offered on the Xbox One and Playstation 4 platforms with players competing in four regular season games over a two-week period.

Unlike the virtual fitness offerings, participants must have their own equipment including their own console and internet connection, as well as set up matches with opponents and report scores back to the intramural sports.

Competition in all six games has already begun, with registration now closed, however according to Intramural Sports Coordinator Roger Jerez, this will not be the only opportunity students have in participating.

“As we move closer to May we are looking to offer this again.” Jerez said.

Intramural sports is looking to also expand upon the selection of video games and has already received requests from students to include games such as Super Smash Bros. and Rocket League.

Intramural sports is also participating in the “Quarantine Quiz Show,” a weekly trivia game show on Twitch offered to universities around the nation. The event takes place every Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST and varies in topics weekly.

Winners of any intramural competitions are still awarded the intramural sports champion T-shirt. This new inclusion of virtual activities is something that will be looked at heavily by campus recreation for the future.

For Pena, she sees this as a way to expand the use of fitness classes and include the possibility of “allowing students to workout in their rooms or residence halls.”

Jerez also sees this opportunity to utilize intramural gaming as a way to reach out to more groups of students on campus.

“We want to try and get as many people into our programs,” Jerez said. “We know everyone does not play and is not interested in things like flag football.”

For campus recreation, the response from the student and staff participants will play a big part in determining the future of these offerings. If there is one thing certain to Karen Freed, it is that these new possibilities are a bright spot for the future.

“We’ve spent some time finding our new normal, looking at planning for the future and doing everything possible to be better than ever.”

For more coverage of how the university is handling coronavirus, head to


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