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Gym, yoga studio owners encourage folks to practice self-care and fitness at home

COURTESY PHOTO - Trainer's Club closed its doors March 18 and moved to online classes using Facebook Live.Local yoga studios and fitness centers are trying something new to help keep the community healthy — both in their minds and bodies.

After non-essential businesses were forced to close in compliance with Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home order, brick and mortar fitness centers like Trainer's Club, Anytime Fitness and Imagine Yoga Studio decided to embrace a virtual experience.

And for fitness owners, the main goal has been human connectivity amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many of the studios and fitness facilities closed their doors to the public prior to the March 23 executive order, and have since ramped up their online presence either through Facebook or Zoom — an online video conferencing platform — to give their clients an interactive or live experience.

Heidi Pa, and her husband Kalani, owners of Lake Oswego's Anytime Fitness, stopped having group classes Feb. 29, a day after it was announced that a Lake Oswego School District employee tested positive for COVID-19.

They officially closed their doors March 20.

"We noticed that people were not coming in very much and it just felt like the right decision," Pa said.

And while she acknowledged there are many home workout videos people can access online, Pa wanted to take it a step further and use Zoom video conferencing to teach online fitness classes so she could interact with her clients.

"I want to be able to look and see the participants and offer some kind of feedback," said Pa, adding that the face-to-face interactions help hold people accountable and keep them motivated.

For the senior population, many of whom are extremely isolated during this health crisis, Zoom provides a way for people to connect.

While using the Zoom platform, people can opt to turn off their video or audio if they wish. The Anytime fitness app also allows Pa to assign workouts and privately coach clients who don't want to participate in classes.

The public can participate in online classes but Pa said she wants them to know someone who is a member at Anytime Fitness — and is invited by that member.

Check Lake Oswego's Anytime Fitness's social media for their weekly schedule of classes that will be posted every Sunday.

Similarly, Imagine Yoga studio is using Zoom to bring yoga classes to people. Instructors who choose to are offering live classes for members. If people wish to sign up or do drop-ins they can visit the website, imagineyogastudio.com, and sign up for classes as they would at the storefront.

Imagine Yoga Owner Kristina Coco-Hackenjos said she had her finger on the pulse of closing the storefront for a while before it was ordered by the governor.

She said staff had taken extra protocols and precautions for cleaning and social distancing but it soon became obvious that it was not responsible to keep the studio open.

"It was a really, really hard decision to take that away," Coco-Hackenjos said. The studio stopped having classes March 17.

Coco-Hackenjos said it was important for students to interact with the teachers so she thought the best platform for home practice would be Zoom.

According to Coco-Hackenjos, an online presence was the "only way to be able to provide our services and more importantly keep our community together."

And while Coco-Hackenjos said the online classes are helping to "bridge the gap" after the studio's closure, she said she's operating week-by-week and is offering three classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday right now, and two classes on Saturday and Sunday.

"I fully anticipate that expanding," she said. "I'm worried for how long this could be just because I do actually have a brick and mortar place that has a brick and mortar lease, that has a brick and mortar landlord."

Trainer's Club followed similar precautions and safety protocols as well before eventually shutting its doors to the public March 18.

From starting to reduce class sizes when the first coronavirus case in Oregon was announced, to canceling classes and limiting gym and personal training hours, the club eventually moved to hosting virtual and outdoor classes at George Rogers Park.

"It was really a series of steps," said owner Jenny Lakey, adding that weeks ago staff sanitized anything that looked like it was touched frequently, every hour.

Now the gym is completely closed — aside from construction on the women's steam bath and the chiropractor's space — and workouts are only posted once a day using Facebook Live.

Aside from workout sessions with trainers, Trainer's Club is hosting sessions with physical therapists and is using this online platform for other presentations from staff like wellness and nutrition tips. The club recently had a physical therapist focus on spine health.

"There's a lot of things besides just staying active that are important to get through this," Lakey said. "We really want to help people use this time as a way to do a little extra focus on self-care."

Lakey advised people to cook a new recipe, take a bath, or Facetime family and friends. She said if people don't want to opt for a class, they can also do home exercises like burpees, push-ups, wall-sits, jumping jacks and planks to stay fit.

"The only hard thing is staying motivated to do those things," Lakey said.

That's why she recommends checking out the Facebook page.

The general public is welcome to check out the Trainer's Club Facebook page to view the videos as well.

Right now, the club is not concerned about the business, but as the stay-at-home order continues, even a month or two out, Lakey said "beyond that, it's a big question mark."

She also expressed gratitude for members who have put memberships on hold or who have continued to pay for their memberships.

"We really have a great community of people here who have been very supportive," she added.

Pa also hopes to eventually re-open Anytime Fitness, but also understands there's a lot of unknowns.

"I really feel like we're all in this together," she said. "It's relationships that are really going to pull us through this."


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