NMU students made their way past Magers Hall Wednesday evening with looks of intrigue, as a few people had gathered in the lawn and were maneuvering their bodies in rather unique ways. The group was part of the yoga class offered at the NMU Fit Zone that had moved its class outside to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.
Despite being socially-distant, the class of students practiced yoga in union. Like much of the rest of campus, changes have been made to NMU’s drop-in fitness classes to provide the safest experience possible for those who wish to attend. The NMU Recreation Center offers both virtual fitness classes and in-person drop-in fitness classes this semester.
For the first part of the fall semester, NMU students and community members with Physical Education Instructional Facility (PEIF) passes will be required to practice social distancing and mask-wearing during drop-in fitness classes indoors. Students who wish to attend in-person fitness classes will be required to come ‘rec ready,’ meaning bring your own equipment. Students will need to scan their ID at the front desk. Drop-in classes at the PEIF Dance Studio will have a new capacity of 20 people. The NMU Fit Zone, located between Magers and Van Antwerp Halls, will have a capacity of eight. Katie Moe, Campus Recreation and Fitness Manager, explains more about the changes coming to campus recreation.
“Because of COVID-19, we have had to change capacity sizes for classes because they are going to be held inside, and because of social distancing we can only have x amount of people per room,” Moe said. “For us to be in-person, doing fitness classes, we have to wear masks and that’s not always the most comfortable thing as we all know at this point.”
Instructors will be holding classes outside while the weather is still nice where masks aren’t required and virtual classes are available online to everyone with a PEIF membership, according to Moe.
“There’s going to be a link (on the Rec Center Website) to a Google form that individuals can fill out,” Moe said. “Once we are able to verify that someone has a membership, we send them a link with all of the videos, that way they can do those classes wherever they like to.”
There is no limit on the number of different classes that people can request. Whether or not this hybrid format will remain for the entire semester has yet to be determined. The Fall Session #2, Oct. 5 – Nov. 13, may look different, according to Moe.
For now, the focus of the Recreation Center is to encourage people to get moving and even make new connections through drop-in classes in ways that best reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19, according to Moe.
“Really what we’re asking everybody right now is to be flexible,” Moe said. “We’re trying to figure this out to see how this is really going to go, because this is our first go-around of offering in-person classes.”
One of the students who attended the Wednesday yoga class was Taylor Agius, a sophomore nursing major. Agius added more about how different drop-in classes are this year compared to the 2019 Fall Semester.
“It’s harder with the mask … it feels a little bit more restricting, but I think in efforts to keep everyone safe and still be able to use the facility, it’s worth it,” Agius said.
Amanda Hofacker, a yoga instructor who teaches both in-person classes and pre-recorded yoga classes, said the virtual classes were a good option for the summer and fall semesters, but had its challenges too.
“It was hard, especially for yoga, because so much of teaching any class is about connection and being able to read people’s energy,” Hofacker said. “So to just be in a room by yourself trying to lead a class and not knowing who is on the other side of the screen is really challenging.”
The virtual classes aren’t as fulfilling for Hofacker because she can’t see the progress made by her students. In the times of a global pandemic, however, these classes can alleviate stress.
“Yoga, and all exercise, but especially yoga because it calms your parasynthetic nervous system… gives you a chance to feel normal again,” Hofacker said. “I think we need some kind of normalcy in our lives right now.”
For more information go to https://www.nmu.edu/recsports/drop-classes