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Virtual workouts help Emory employees stay focused on personal wellbeing

Emory’s fitness and recreation facilities haven’t let sheltering in place keep them from encouraging the community to stay healthy. They turned to social media to share workouts, host live Q&As and more.

In late March, as Emory employees began settling into a new normal with most working remotely, Emory’s fitness and recreation facilities also closed their doors to keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible amid the spread of the novel coronavirus in Georgia.

Blomeyer Health Fitness Center and Emory Recreation and Wellness soon began offering virtual programming to help the Emory community stay fit and connected. These new virtual offerings –  including live fitness classes, coffee talks, ask the trainer sessions, fitness challenges and more – have been well received.

“While the doors to our facilities may be closed, it doesn’t mean the need to focus on personal wellbeing has stopped,” says Melissa Morgan, senior manager of wellness programs. “It is important for everyone to continue to engage in activities that promote happiness, stress management, healthful nutrition and physical health. We are fortunate to have dedicated teams who are committed to helping employees through these times by providing virtual programming.”

Blomeyer began offering virtual programs on Monday, March 30 — online sessions that are led by their full-time, certified staff members. All programs are free and open to Emory employees, regardless of whether they are members of the Blomeyer facility.  The virtual offerings include:

  • Group fitness classes: Eight 30-minute classes are offered live each week, Monday through Friday.
  • Virtual coffee break: Open discussion on a variety of wellness topics with fellow Emory colleagues and the Blomeyer team. Offered on Tuesdays at 11 a.m.
  • Ask the trainer: Opportunity to “drop in” and asked certified fitness professionals any exercise related questions. Offered on Thursdays at 11 a.m.
  • Active Works breaks: Pre-recorded activities that can be incorporated throughout the workday. These short videos focus on stretching, mindfulness, posture and muscle recovery and can be found on Blomeyer’s YouTube channel.
  • Workout of the Week: Weekly workout and nutrition tips sent via email on Mondays.

While not required, participants are encouraged to register in advance for the virtual offerings.

While many online fitness options have been made free to the public since the onset of COVID-19, Blomeyer’s programs allow Emory employees an opportunity to exercise and share a sense of connection with others they may know.

“I love that Blomeyer has been offering virtual fitness classes during the Emory COVID-19 closure,” says Christina Mehta, research assistant professor at Rollins School of Public Health. “It’s a way for me to still feel connected to Blomeyer and get a workout. My kids often join me in the workouts, so it is something that our whole family participates in.”

For some, these programs have provided an opportunity to try something new in the comfort of their home. For others, the sessions help keep them accountable to a fitness schedule while working from home.

Barbara House, administrative assistant at The Emory Clinic, has found the classes to be inspiring and shares that she “needs the accountability.” House normally would not be able to participate in Blomeyer’s classes since she works on the Emory Saint Joseph’s campus. She has been able to participate virtually and has shared the information about the classes with her co-workers.

Anthony Woods, program manager of Blomeyer, has been thrilled with the employee response. “We weren’t sure what to expect as we took the fitness center virtual. It has been exciting to have dozens of employees in these classes each day,” he says.

April Flint, director of Emory Recreation and Wellness, agrees: “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.”

Their offerings are posted by 9 a.m. weekday mornings on the Emory Recreation and Wellness Facebook and Instagram pages:

  • Mobility Monday: Learn ways to increase range of motion.
  • HIIT Tuesday: High intensity interval training class.
  • Well Wednesday: Talk with fitness staff about a range of wellness topics during a live Q&A.
  • Tune Up Thursday: Release some stress with yoga and meditation.
  • Friday Fitness Challenge: End the week by participating in fun mental and physical challenges.

Longer workouts are posted on the Recreation and Wellness YouTube channel.

For those who are interested in larger efforts, Emory Recreation and Wellness has joined the virtual 2020 Recreation Movement Challenge, featuring access to fitness programs at more than 70 colleges and universities. Emory students, faculty and staff can join the challenge, which runs through May 31.

The staff plans to offer virtual programming while the majority of university employees continue to work from home.

Employees can find additional resources and programs including work-life, emotional health, spiritual and financial wellbeing on the Human Resources “Working Through COVID-19” web page.

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