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Local gyms live-stream free workouts during COVID-19 closures

Local gyms live-stream free workouts during COVID-19 closures

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series

WATERLOO — Roc Training Center owners Kristi and Russ O’Connell understand the power of community when it comes to getting and staying fit.

So when Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 17 ordered the closure of gyms across the state, the couple knew they had to adapt — and quickly.

“We knew we had to do something to help, not just for our members, but for everyone. Within a couple of hours we had a plan to do live (Facebook) feeds,” Kristi O’Connell said.

The next day, and every day since, the couple have done live workouts on Facebook at 4:30 p.m.

“We tell them the equipment they need. If they don’t have weights, they can use soup cans, jugs of milk, just about anything,” Kristi O’Connell noted.

The 45-minute workouts have seen increasing numbers of views over the past week.

“Right now it’s important to exercise, even if it means going for a walk or going up and down the stairs. It produces endorphins that make you feel better and we need that right now,” Kristi O’Connell said, adding there’s a sense of community knowing there are others working out virtually alongside you. “You want to feel like you’re with someone.”

Russ O’Connell concurred.

“It’s our way of doing something for the community. We are in this together,” he said.

Staying active helps not only your physical health but your mental health. Stress weakens the immune system, Kristi O’Connell said, and “working out puts you in a better frame of mind.”

Michelle Davis, fitness specialist at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex, says their trainers are given freedom to handle clients however they so choose.

“I do know that some clients have chosen to just go on a break for the time being. Some have chosen to have trainers send them some exercises that they can do from home while we all weather the storm,” she said. “Our trainers work with clients of all ages and abilities, so some workouts that would be done in a gym setting aren’t the easiest to replicate without the proper equipment and guidance.

“With that said, a lot of our clients are given exercises that are appropriate for them that they can complete with just their own body weight. At the end of the day, we’re really just encouraging people to keep moving their body and do what you can.”

As do most facilities, the SportsPlex also promotes health via its social media posts “in hopes that we can help to serve all members and even non-members during this challenging time,” she added.

To assist with the problem of equipment, Roc Training has allowed its members to check out weights, as has The Gym/Cross Fit Kilo in Cedar Falls.

At 6 p.m. daily, Planet Fitness is live-streaming United We Move Home Work-Ins on its Facebook page. The 20-minute classes are free, and no equipment is needed.

The Family YMCA of Black Hawk County has closed its fitness facilities, but CEO Angie Witner said members and the general public have been directed to a variety of free online classes at

“We are talking about how we curently can continue to communicate with members, keep them engaged, maybe upcoming fitness challenges to do,” Witner said.

Other ways to stay active, according to a story on by Kevin Guild, a minor league strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Athletics, include:

  • Walk the stairs for a few minutes
  • Do a yoga video on YouTube.
  • Dance with your pet.
  • Walk around the block while respecting social distancing.
  • Do 10 push-ups every time you check the stock market.
  • Hold a plank every time President Donald Trump answers a reporter’s question.
  • Perform 30 seconds of bear crawls every time you check your email.
  • Perform one minute of glute bridges between every Netflix episode.
  • Perform 30 seconds of side planks every time you laugh at the newest meme on Instagram.

Courier writer Meta Hemenway-Forbes contributed to this story.

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