Need exercise? There's an app for that

Nathan Baker • Mar 29, 2020 at 10:00 AM

In the midst of social distancing, with gyms closed and groups larger than 10 people discouraged, getting proper exercise can be difficult.

Still, the medical professionals recommending we stay six feet apart and out of enclosed public spaces say maintaining an active lifestyle is important to our overall health.

Some local businesses are offering to fill that need using technology to keep people working out together even though we’re keeping a distance.

Lady Fit Studio

Kalen Arnold, owner of Johnson City’s Lady Fit Studio, has been holding live online fitness classes for two years, and said she’s seen a significant growth in attendance since the novel coronavirus global pandemic started.

“I have people all over the U.S. in my classes,” Arnold said Wednesday. “There are a lot of places where people are stuck inside now, and they’re buying more classes to try to get their exercise in.”

Lady Fit’s dozens of classes for women, targeting the whole body or specific parts of it, can be streamed live on Periscope, a video app.

Arnold teaches them all, and offers plans for single courses or for all-access monthly passes. She also offers virtual consultation and training.

Some of her “silly videos” have been wildly popular on social media. In some, she uses toilet paper rolls, the symbol of unnecessary pandemic hoarding, as props during routines.

“We need to be able to stay motivated, on track and having fun right now,” Arnold said. “Depression is a real issue, especially when everybody’s isolated, and exercise helps fight against it.”

For information about the studio’s classes, visit ladyfitstudio.com.

Downtown Yoga

Kim Blaine’s yoga studio, Downtown Yoga Center, didn’t offer online classes before the pandemic, but now that it does, she said they’ll probably continue.

Blaine and some of the studio’s other instructors tested interest in online classes on social media last week and decided to begin holding paid classes over the conferencing service Zoom to reach customers while they can’t hold classes in the studio.

“It’s going great,” she said. “We’ve found it to be kind of fun.”

Blaine said her business was fortunate to have a loyal group of customers willing to work with her and Downtown Yoga Center’s staff as they rushed to come up with a plan during Gov. Bill Lee’s ordered shutdown of gyms.

“None of us were really ready for this,” she said. “Technology like that is scary, but we were able to have a couple of rounds of free trial runs to get our feet a little wet with the whole system before we started charging.”

With all the kinks worked out with the technology, she said staff will experiment with some classes and times to see what people are most interested in taking part in.

The class schedule is available on the center’s website, downtownyogacenter.com, or on the MindBody app.

Downtown Yoga will also likely continue holding online classes after the pandemic passes, she said.

Fleet Feet

Because of social distancing recommendations, many organizers canceled running events and races.

Running outdoors isn’t against the guidelines, but races and even some group training runs could increase the chances of transmitting a virus.

The owners and employees of running equipment store Fleet Feet didn’t want its customers to miss out on the motivational benefits of running with others, so they moved their training events online.

Brody Hazelwood, a marketer for the business, started a group on Strava, a training app, to help keep local runners training during the downtime.

Anyone can join the Fleet Feet 5 and Dime group, named for five- and 10-mile runs, to compare distances and times and encourage others.

“Trying to keep people active is the main goal,” Hazelwood said. “All the races are canceled, but people can still run and put stats and photos on there.”

Winners will be chosen from the group’s runners, not necessarily the fastest or the longest runners, to receive prizes.

Hazelwood said nearly 40 people had joined the group by Wednesday, less than a week after it was created.

The positive response from the running community was overwhelming, he said.

The Strava app can be downloaded for free from major app stores.