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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Students, professors stay connected through online workout classes

Photo Illustration by Sarah Urtz | Assistant Photo Editor
Kelley Vargo, a professor of exercise science at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, streams her “Sweat and Social Distance” exercise classes from Facebook and the project’s website.

Gyms and exercise classes might be shut down for now, but some students and professors are encouraging their peers to stay active through online classes.

Two students and a professor are offering free, virtual workout classes on Instagram, Zoom and Facebook to stay connected with peers and friends while in quarantine. They said the classes, which include activities like yoga and body sculpt, are ways for the GW community to stay connected and physically active while they stay home during the pandemic.

Kelley Vargo, practicum coordinator and student advisor, said she started “Sweat and Social Distance” two weeks ago. The classes range from Zumba to high-intensity training sessions and are taught by a group of about 25 volunteers, which include professors and graduate students.

The classes are streamed on a website and Facebook page every week, Vargo said. She said workouts range from 30 minutes to an hour, and about two classes are held online every weekday.

“It’s pretty amazing how many people have jumped on board or to donate an hour of their time a week to teach a class,” Vargo said. “Even for me, I’ve met amazing people that I wouldn’t have met had we not been in this position.”

Vargo added that the workout group is an opportunity for people to meet each other and build social connections while in quarantine. She recently reconnected with an old professor who she hadn’t seen in 10 years and tuned in to one of her classes.

“I’ve had people from GW sending me pictures of their kids, checking in on them in the workout and doing it at home,” she said. “I think the beauty of creating a community is an opportunity for everyone to play a part and connect.”

Vargo recently added a new event called “social sweat,” an exercise-free communal hour to talk with other people over a video call.

“I had an anesthesiologist, who actually was one of my students that I advise, who showed up with her husband and a bottle of wine just to hang out and talk,” Vargo said. “It’s creating a space for people to connect because I think right now, obviously, we’re in our own home. But it’s also an opportunity to meet people that we might have never met before.”

Senior and certified yoga instructor Issie Kulick, who works at CorePower Yoga in Georgetown, said she created instructional yoga videos after her grandmother requested them for herself over Facetime. Kulick said she uses Instagram Live and Facebook Live to share her videos.

“A lot of people are enjoying them,” she said. “And when people can’t do it, they’re like, ‘I’ll do it later’ and they always go back to me and say, ‘Oh my god, it was so good.’”

The videos are free, but Kulick said viewers have the option to make a donation through Venmo. All of the proceeds are donated to food banks in New Jersey, she said.

Freshman Becca Hammerman, a certified yoga and pilates instructor, said she teaches classes for her friends and sorority sisters while at school. During the school year, she also teaches at Epic Yoga and the Lerner Health and Wellness Center.

Hammerman said that since she’s gotten home, she’s been teaching classes over Zoom for members of Melt Hot Yoga, a studio in Pennsylvania she works for. She said the classes gave her an idea to expand and host trainings for her friends and family.

“I was like, ‘Well guys, I’ve been teaching classes for my studio so why don’t we do every Friday or Sunday for an hour and we all get on a Zoom call?’” Hammerman said. “And I just lead them through a workout as I would for my studio or for any classes I teach.”

In addition to the Melt Hot Yoga classes, she typically teaches an online class once a week on Fridays and posts the Zoom link in her sorority’s Facebook group, Hammerman said.

She added that while people should aim to stay active while in quarantine, everyone should prioritize their mental health during the pandemic.

“By doing absolutely nothing, you’re kind of refreshing,” Hammerman said. “And instead of hopping on that next project or starting up something or trying to make money in some way, it’s better to calm down and kind of reflect on the situation where and how that’s affecting your emotions, your lifestyle.”

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