When Jessica Douglas became a certified Zumba instructor on her 18th birthday, she didn’t expect teaching classes over Zoom would be in her future. However, amid the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing guidelines, online instruction has become Douglas’ new normal.
Michigan State University Recreational Sports has been hosting virtual fitness classes through Zoom since March 29. Anyone with the link, whether they attend MSU or not, can log on to a variety of classes that include yoga, Zumba, weightlifting, H.I.I.T. and ride.
Participation varies for each class and time, but Douglas, who has taught group fitness classes for seven semesters at MSU, said her Zumba sessions have had good turnout.
“I was surprised,” Douglas said. “Not going to lie, I did not think there were going to be very many, but I’ve had almost 30 participants every day, which is quite a lot.”
MSU senior Renee Rogowski instructs the virtual yoga classes. She said Recreational Sports and Fitness services staff member Rebecca Kegler spearheaded the idea to move classes online. Rogowski said the team discussed multiple platforms including Facebook and Youtube before deciding on Zoom.
“What I really like about Zoom is that I’ve been able to send my link to people beyond MSU and they can join in, too,” Rogowski said.
MSU freshman Caelan Hunt has attended several of the online Zumba classes. She said she has been enjoying the experience aside from some technical disadvantages.
“I think the online version is going really well so far,” Hunt said. “The only fall is that every once in a while there’s a lag between the music and the movement, but that’s just a technology problem.”
Owen Clark, a freshman at MSU, attended every in-person Zumba class during the spring 2020 semester and was planning on applying to become an instructor before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Clark said he has attended a couple online classes but finds them harder to do compared to in-person training.
“When you’re in person you have all this energy in the room that everyone kind of feeds you,” Clark said. “When everyone is dancing and having fun, then you want to dance and have fun. When you see someone pushing themselves, it makes you want to push yourself harder. I feel like when you’re online all you can really see is (the instructor) so you don’t have all these people and this energy around you so it’s harder to push yourself.”
Rogowski said there have been several challenges when it comes to her yoga instruction as well, however her passion for instructing has remained the same.
“I wouldn’t say it’s worse and I wouldn’t say it’s better, it’s just different,” Rogowski said. “I’m excited to have a change of pace and to be sharing yoga during a time when people can really benefit from it.”