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UREC offers a variety of classes that range from HIIT to yoga.

In the midst of the pandemic, much of people’s lives continue through online platforms including University Recreation Center Zoom classes. Staying motivated might’ve been difficult even when there was an accessible gym on campus with in-person classes. With none of these options available, the UREC staff post online classes instead, so people can exercise from home. 

Grace Hourigan, a senior media arts and design major,  worked at UREC as a group exercise instructor while school was still held in-person and, now that her regular classes have moved online, so have her group exercise classes.

“It’s really hard to work out at home and find the motivation,” Hourigan said. 

Hourigan worked at UREC as a group exercise instructor while school was still held in-person and, now that her regular classes have moved online, so have her group exercise classes.

Participants don’t have to worry about being seen or heard during these group exercise classes, since cameras are off and microphones are muted, and only the instructor can be viewed and audible. The classes are announced on the JMU UREC Instagram page with a Zoom login. If the time doesn’t work with one’s schedule, the classes are posted to Youtube for people to use during their own time.

“Even though we all have a lot more free time now — with some of our other obligations being canceled with everything going on — sometimes you do still have an online class that you have to go to, or you have an assignment due, and you're just not free during the time of the class,” Hourigan said. “There is a library of classes online.” 

Carter Larson, a junior health sciences major, and her mom, Daina Larson, have been taking the online classes UREC has been posting. Carter had taken a few group exercise classes while at JMU but didn’t always have the right schedule for the classes she wanted, or there weren’t always enough spaces available in the class.

Now, classes may work for every person’s individual schedule, and the Zoom-scheduled class can hold up to 300 people, so there’s a very little chance that a class would run out of space.

“The interaction is a little different because the instructor isn’t in person and can’t see you, but I still think they’re pretty motivating because they still have the same enthusiasm that they do in person,” Carter said.

Carter said she asked her mom to start doing the classes together while they were both at home, and they’ve continued to do a class together every day except Sundays for the past five weeks. This even continued after Carter traveled back to Harrisonburg. The mother and daughter would meet up via Zoom to take their classes.

“At first I was a little intimidated, but then I did one or two and I got my confidence up and realized I could do it with Carter,” Daina said.

The mother and daughter try to push and motivate each other to do a new class every day, but both agreed that their favorite online class has been HIIT, a high-intensity interval training workout. 

“I’m kinda bad at calling my mom sometimes, so it’s a way to kind of bond over dying at the same time and talking every day,” Carter said.

Without equipment, the group exercise instructors have had to get creative to teach their classes online with objects most people have in their homes.

“I think that I like it because you can use things from your house as weights that you would at UREC, like soup cans or a backpack, and you get the same result,” Carter said.

Carter said the transition to online group exercise classes hasn’t been all bad. In fact, they allow participants access to these classes at any point in the day, and they’re not exclusively offered to JMU students. With the classes being readily available, it allows friends and family to work out together.

“It’s holding me accountable, because we set a time each day, and it’s something to look forward to and get me away from work and take a breather, and see Carter’s face and talk a little bit before and after to see how our days are going,” Daina said.

Contact Jean Luther at lutherjm@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.