April 17, 2020

Learning to Get Quarantoned

From ballet barre classes and yoga to spin and climbing, there are now countless ways to get fit at home

These are dark days for yoginis. And gym rats. And dancers. And just about anybody else who equates a good sweat with a room full of like-bodied types. But then there are those of us who are thriving, even dancing, with the stars — who love it when quarantine coaches such as Jonathan Van Ness, from Queer Eye, describe a hammy stretch as “gorgeous,” or others, like the principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, who scolds us for “soft knees.”

It’s not only celebs, however, who are now sharing their daily routines with us in some digital space. As the virus forces us indoors, many entrepreneurial and altruistic instructors from local studios and gyms are also inviting us into their homes where we’re cooing over their dogs, admiring their art work, even squinting to see what books line all those beautiful built-ins. We caught up with five Calgary-based instructors who are using digital tools to strengthen, and in many cases build, robust virtual connections to replace the physical proximity that we’ve lost.

Passage Studios | Yoga + HIT + Spin

By day, Breanne Sich, BComm’15, is Marketing VP for Mealshare Aid Society, a social enterprise aimed at ending youth hunger. By night (and now, any ol’ time) she teaches spin classes at Passage. Adapting to teaching classes remotely has been “surprisingly similar to teaching a regular class,” she says, preferring livestreaming over virtual because you still feel “part of a community as people are tuning it, cheering everyone on, posting their calorie burns afterward – even their sweaty pics! The weirdest part about teaching online is that you have to motivate and push through the class like it was full,” she adds, “yet try to be as authentic and genuine as you can be in an empty room. Livestreaming makes that a little easier.”

If the pandemic has given us any gift, it’s that of time. Precisely why Sich says, “I hope people take a few minutes to jot down actions or feelings on how they are going to help/support, show up/collaborate, donate, grow/learn for everything and everyone on their list. This is what is keeping me grounded, realigned and focused on what I want to keep pursuing during this difficult time.”

Slow Flow Yoga

Although it feels slightly odd to follow Rose-Marie Theriault in her airy living room and not in UCalgary’s KNA 162, there’s something comforting about seeing “your” instructor and not some stranger from, oh say . . .  Austin (we’re looking at you Adriene, of Yoga with Adriene fame, out of Texas). 

Having taught yoga through Active Living since 2013 means Theriault has a loyal following, which propelled her to do something unexpected four weeks ago — she posted three free virtual yoga classes for her UCalgary fans. And really, anyone. The connection and interaction she would normally get from teaching a “physical” class is absent but she still loves “knowing that people can be guided in their practice anywhere, anytime.”

So, if you’re missing Rose’s Tuesday class at the university, roll out your mat and follow along on her website  or on YouTube .

Kult YYC Fitness

Second-year law student Jenny Deyholos began teaching high-octane “climb” classes at Kult YYC Fitness about five months ago. Using a versa climber — imagine a skinny, vertical stair climber where they claim you can burn 20 calories a minute —  Deyholos likens it to a spin class, “where we move to the beat of the music.”

Despite missing the social connection that a high-energy “live” class provides, Deyholos and other Kult instructors have been filming at-home circuit workouts, now being shared on Kult’s Instagram page, as part of its 30-day challenge.

“It’s hard to know how many people are joining us since it’s all being delivered on social media,” she says, “but it’s definitely awesome to see so many familiar faces that are posting videos and photos of their workouts, online.

“If there is one benefit to working out from home,” says Deyholos, who is now taking classes, virtually, at UCalgary, “it’s learning how to motivate yourself. It’s easy to push yourself in a class when you feel like other people are watching you. But when you’re doing a virtual class, you need to be accountable to yourself.”

Decidedly Jazz Works (DJD)

Since Vicki Willis founded the jazz division of dance at UCalgary back in 1978 and then went on to create DJD in 1984, this city has known how to move. And groove.

In typical times, DJD’s 80+ classes per week take place in their snappy downtown studios, but when COVID-19 changed their routine, they were forced to suspend all classes, events and programs. However, every week new classes — Beginner Hip Hop and Ballet Barre were last week’s offerings — are being streamed and posted on DJD’s Instagram page. In the next few weeks, expect to find more classes, rehearsal footage of Beautiful Noise (the show that had to be postponed due to COVID-19), The Great Jazz History Mystery and more.

Ballet Barre Works

Not that she’s a psychic, but Kalyn Swihart, BA’06, began streaming one of her barre workouts, dubbed Ballet Beats® Streaming, two years ago — in pre-pandemic times. One-hour in-class videos, 30- to 40-minute workouts, 25-minute cardio vids — they’re all part of the seven-day free trial, now available on Ballet Barre Works. In addition to this already existing roster of classes, the Calgary-based company plans to launch other ballet workouts via Zoom, Facebook Live and Instagram Live.

Whether you’re in a physical class in one of their studios or practising your plies and jetes in front of your computer screen, Swihart says, “you may find peace just from moving to the music which can often be meditative. We don’t focus on calories or weight-loss but rather on self-acceptance and self-love. Things we should always focus on, not just in these uncertain times.”

There are more than just these workout classes out there, of course. If you’re spinning from home or out for a walk, check out this podcast: Fitness in The Age of COVID. While we’re shut indoors, we will be bringing you more ideas to keep you fit, well-read and entertained — stay tuned.