Coronavirus: Lethbridge fitness groups connecting ‘screen-to-screen’ with community online

Several Lethbridge fitness and recreation groups have turned to the virtual world to connect with residents who want to stay active amid COVID-19.

The City of Lethbridge banned the use of playgrounds on Monday, eliminating yet another exercise option for families.

But a variety of gyms and organizations in the city — including the Lethbridge Gymnastics Academy — have turned online to provide content that gets kids moving.

“Keeping those connections and some sort of routine for everyone was just something that we wanted to do,” said Andrea Seright, one of the owners of Lethbridge Gymnastics Academy, “not only for ourselves, but for our community, and it’s just grown from there.”

Seright and co-owner Jamie Ellacott have been going live on Facebook daily with sessions for kids, and the pair said they are starting to realize just how far their new methods can reach.

“We are reaching more kids through these online classes than we would be able to have in our gym,” said Ellacott.

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Darin Gibson of Legacy Tae Kwon Do is also viewing the situation as a chance to further connect.

“Now our local students will be able to get instruction from other instructors and other masters in our organization,” he said, adding that he hopes the situation could lead to his students learning from international resources.

“We want to turn it from a challenge into a growth opportunity.”

For individuals who are self-isolating, the options now seem more endless than ever online.

And with people now heading to phones and computers in search of exercise ideas and realizing the breadth of resources, the owner of Unite YQL believes the trend will continue far after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a great opportunity to check out just what people are doing,” said Vanessa Bishop, who owns the gym alongside her husband, “how everybody is teaching and different energies… that part is really awesome.”

Bishop is utilizing Instagram to connect with the community, through live videos as well posts that include high-intensity workouts and modified movements.

The small business owner said she’s making the best of a stressful situation that is filled with uncertainty.

“Depending on how long the closure is, I can’t say for certain what the future is,” she said, “which is terrifying.”

For now, gyms will remain empty for the foreseeable future, so instructors will continue to adapt.

“Face-to-face is the best, but in these circumstances, we have to go screen-to-screen,” said Gibson.

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