Exercising Amid COVID-19

By Ella Myrthil

The Wellness Center continues to offer a space for students to stay physically active during the spring 2021 semester. Clean spaces to use equipment, group fitness classes, and the opportunity to connect with personal trainers are all still available.

“We want our students to stay active!” Joyce Byler, wellness director, said. “I appreciate all of our students and athletes who have been really respectful, compliant and so open to change with what we’re trying to do here. I hope they understand that as soon as we are able, we will revert back to our welcoming self, making it a really warm social place to hang out with lots of smiles.”

The past two semesters have seen plenty of changes to the Wellness Center, such as scheduling out different times for athletes and non-athlete students to use the first floor weight room. During the designated team times, only members of that sports team are permitted into the first floor workout room. The second floor cardio room remains open for student use. The latest schedule was sent out on Jan. 22 in an email from Byler.

During the fall 2020 semester, group fitness classes were held outdoors until the campus experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 in early November. Now, Zumba, Pilates, and yoga classes have returned to the Pioneer Room on the second floor of the Wellness Center. These classes remain free for all students.

“Some of the best ways you can stay well is to get good rest, eat fresh food from the Earth, practice mindfulness everyday, be active, [and] get outside!” Byler said, encouraging a motto of “green time over screen time” to students.

Exercise Prescription is a class Byler facilitates in the exercise science department. This is a hands-on learning experience for exercise science students as they are paired up with an individual to train. 

“In the past, the students would pair up with faculty or staff members, but because of COVID-19 we do not want to put different groups together,” Byler said.” Some students are training other students on campus and some are training family members at home or virtually.” 

“I’m very grateful for the Malone Wellness Center and the access to its equipment because I’m trying to stay healthy as I feel like a lot of us are here on campus,” Koby Todd, freshman social work major, said. “It’s very important to have easy access to the gym especially with the pandemic.”

Todd is partnered with Taylor Sloan, senior exercise science major. 

“[Sloan] and I have come up with a good plan for what we want to do – I’m really grateful for him, he’s guided me through everything,” Todd said. “Working out gives the extra push to reach your goals and better yourself. I never take that for granted. I’m very grateful for being asked to be a part of this program.”

“To me, physical wellness is really important to your overall well being,” Brittany Knoch, senior exercise science major, said. “When I exercise, I feel that my mental health is better, my mind is clearer, I feel like I can sleep better and I have more energy.”

During the spring 2020 semester, Knoch was a part of the Exercise Prescription course and trained a faculty member on campus. 

“It was a really cool experience to watch her growth and her confidence grow as we worked together,” Knoch said. “I got to watch her achieve her goals.” 

As it has affected most, the COVID-19 pandemic has also changed Knoch’s workout schedule. She is appreciative of Joyce Byler’s emails that share the weight room availability schedule with the student body.

“I think the Wellness Center has done a good job at staying open and giving the students an opportunity to work out,” Knoch said. “You know when teams are using the weight room… so you know when not to go in.”

“This semester the Exercise Prescription class is starting to learn how to meet people where they are,” Byler said. “If somebody needs help to get started on a work out program, we do have students that can do that. If you are really interested and serious about getting on a plan, one of our senior seminar exercise science students could put them through some assessments, on a training program, and monitor their progress.”

Any students who are interested in this program should contact Joyce Byler at jbyler@malone.edu.

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