Social distancing and staying home doesn’t mean forgoing fitness goals this spring. Iredell County trainers, instructors and business owners continue to reach audiences with alternative tactics and inventive ideas as everyone faces COVID-19 in the community.
From yoga to weight training and Crossfit, the region is ripe with options for working out while remaining at home. Many studios in the area chose to close temporarily in recent weeks. But March 23, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order that made this a mandate; his order restricted mass gathering destinations, such as gyms, to close by 5 p.m. March 25 to increase the protections of North Carolina residents against the ongoing pandemic.
Friday, Cooper issued a directive to stay in place.
But many fitness leaders were already ahead of the game, including Let It Flow in Troutman. The two-year-old yoga studio hosted its last in-person class on March 16 “out of respect for our clients,” said co-owners Sandy Plemmons and Jennifer Brinkley in a joint response to questions via email.
“Client health and welfare is our biggest concern,” they said, noting that many students are immuno-compromised or living with others who are vulnerable. Additionally, yoga is taught in a closed studio environment with attendees often 18” or less from one another. “We felt that all of this combined to put students at a higher-than-average risk.”
So Let It Flow, with urging from attendees and only three days later, jumped into livestreaming its classes. The brand began on Facebook then transitioned to the ZOOM Cloud App, offering courses within its unlimited membership or as a $5 drop-in.
“Yoga teachers are contractors and if they don’t work, they don’t get paid which is heartbreaking to us,” the Let It Flow owners stated. “This is a way for us to be able to continue to offer them teaching pay during this pandemic.”
Plemmons and Brinkley also added that ZOOM allows flexibility; guests have two days to take the course. “Time and location are no longer a barrier.”
Fellow yoga instructor Nancy Macasieb helped bring Let It Flow’s online sessions to fruition, but she’s also hosting her own virtual activities, including broadcasting from the bartop at downtown Mooresville’s On Tap. Said the Lake Norman area yoga instructor and movement enthusiast, “I constructed a home studio in my tiny one-bedroom apartment so there’s really no excuse for anyone not to try livestreaming virtual classes.”
Macasieb continues to instruct and entertain from the On Tap bartop each week — a location where she typically offers an in-person evening class every Thursday — as a free stream that requests a tip or donation. Additionally, she still works with Lowe’s Corporate Headquarters and its Corporate Fitness Works, now streaming her classes live from Let It Flow.
Like Let It Flow, Macasieb’s classes are all levels: “Anyone who needs to stretch or stress less!”
CrossFit 77, located on Raceway Drive in Mooresville, shared its temporary closure in the nick of time — just hours prior to Cooper’s state mandate announcement for all nonessential businesses. “Upon our decision, we decided to ‘loan’ out equipment to members of the gym so that they can work out at home,” said general manager Robert Filebark. “As of 8 p.m. (Monday) night, we basically emptied out the facility to keep our members going strong.”
CrossFit 77 has extended personalized options to its personal training clients in addition to sharing four virtual classes per week based off utilizing things found around the common household, such as gallon jugs and broomsticks. Those workouts will be added to the crossfit gym’s YouTube page each week, inviting others to “workout with us.”
But in the meantime, while closed, Filebark said CrossFit 77 has looked for positives at this time.
“We see this as an opportunity to make the gym stronger from the inside as well as come up with some new programs,” he said.
Also streaming free courses is Ellen Cline, a personal trainer and coach at the Art of Fitness in Mooresville. Typically training clients one-on-one or in group sessions of five to 20 students, Cline said she moved to sharing via her personal Facebook page once the studio at 159 Brawley Park Lane closed for the pandemic on March 16.
“It wasn’t the easiest decision and it definitely wasn’t one we wanted to make, but it was one that we needed to make,” said Cline. She added that AOF recognized it might need to close longer than its planned one week, which was the original goal. Her comments were made prior to Cooper’s stay at home executive order Friday.
Cline said she responded to client emotions — “shocked, sad, bummed” — by keeping her gym family motivated. “That’s what we’re there for — to motivate people, to keep them going, to encourage them each and every day to keep pushing.”
Cline swiftly began posting workouts and tips on her personal Facebook page. She made the posts public so anyone could find health in the comfort of home — from following Cline using her trampoline as a tool to reflection runs and healthy meals. Her videos are not only reaching the AOF family of clients, but viewers in other states.
“The feeling of giving back to the community, especially during a time of need, is extremely important to me … People need this in their life,” she said. “They need to feel connected. And moving our bodies makes us happy. It also makes us healthier. It’s a win-win.”
Macasieb echoed this focus on health. “Staying active and healthy is essential to maintain, and even boosting, your immune system. The physical exercise will increase endorphins to keep you positive while you are home with your family. Stress can also lower our immune systems so we want to stay as stress-free as possible.”
She continued, “Staying active isn’t just essential to maintaining general health, but it is a preventative action you can take to boost your immunity.”