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Wade on the Trail with his dog
Social distancing means no group exercising … or does it? The Professor throws on his sweats and reporter’s cap to find out how to work out during a pandemic.
By Alan Sivell

On the first day of my gym exile, I stormed out of the house for a 6 a.m. walk. I wasn’t happy.

I had been all set to go to the gym. But as I was reaching for my already-packed bag, my wife said, “You’re not going.”

She’s been writing about health and medical news for 25+ years. She knows how important my morning workouts are to my physical and mental health. But she knows that social distancing is key to stopping coronavirus. So I followed directions despite myself.

I took my phone, planning to plug into the news, but at the last minute, opted for music.

Ahhh. Great choice. My mood brightened. I calmed down. At least for the walk.

The week presented more of the same, meaning more of the same lack of exercise. Since school shut down, I’ve had to teach online. So I can’t pace and wave my hands while I talk in class, or I’ll walk out of the picture. And I can’t continue to meet with the student trainer I started working with last week.

Yes, there’s the ancient Airdyne in the basement. Yes, there are planks and crunches to do. And house stairs to climb and house dog to walk. But……..

In my despair, I did what every other American did. I went to Facebook. There, I found the solace I needed in my former student, Erin (Tiesman) Schroeder. She seemed to anticipate my needs.

Erin’s post:

“If anyone’s looking to move or work out at home while we stay away from gyms or fitness classes, Planet Fitness has Facebook Live workouts everyday, 20 mins., no equipment required.


“I also recommend the FitOn app, which is completely free, has workouts and meditations ranging from 5 to 40 mins., and can be streamed from your phone to Chromecast or Amazon Fire sticks.”

I haven’t tried Planet Fitness workouts yet, but have downloaded FitOn and did the first workout. So far, it appears to be a great app (free … but you can upgrade for more options). It has a wide range of workouts, depending on what you want to work on, with what intensity and length of time.

Also, Two Rivers Y in Moline is posting classes on FB live that you can join at home. The ONLY drawback – and it is definitely not their fault – is that there is no music because they don’t have streaming rights. But, just watching the instructors’ energy and enthusiasm this morning inspired me to get off my duff and try a few moves.

These sessions are great because they are connections with other human beings outside, even if they are talking to you on a screen. After doing it a couple of days, you begin to feel as if you are in a class with friends.

I would love to hear from you. I know I’m not the only gym/exercise addict out there. What are you doing to feed that habit? Please post any tips, ideas, or suggestions.

By Alan Sivell

On the first day of my gym exile, I stormed out of the house for a 6 a.m. walk. I wasn’t happy.

I had been all set to go to the gym. But as I was reaching for my already-packed bag, my wife said, “You’re not going.”

She’s been writing about health and medical news for 25+ years. She knows how important my morning workouts are to my physical and mental health. But she knows that social distancing is key to stopping coronavirus. So I followed directions despite myself.

I took my phone, planning to plug into the news, but at the last minute, opted for music.

Ahhh. Great choice. My mood brightened. I calmed down. At least for the walk.

The week presented more of the same, meaning more of the same lack of exercise. Since school shut down, I’ve had to teach online. So I can’t pace and wave my hands while I talk in class, or I’ll walk out of the picture. And I can’t continue to meet with the student trainer I started working with last week.

Yes, there’s the ancient Airdyne in the basement. Yes, there are planks and crunches to do. And house stairs to climb and house dog to walk. But……..

In my despair, I did what every other American did. I went to Facebook. There, I found the solace I needed in my former student, Erin (Tiesman) Schroeder. She seemed to anticipate my needs.

Erin’s post:

“If anyone’s looking to move or work out at home while we stay away from gyms or fitness classes, Planet Fitness has Facebook Live workouts everyday, 20 mins., no equipment required.

“I also recommend the FitOn app, which is completely free, has workouts and meditations ranging from 5 to 40 mins., and can be streamed from your phone to Chromecast or Amazon Fire sticks.”

I haven’t tried Planet Fitness workouts yet, but have downloaded FitOn and did the first workout. So far, it appears to be a great app (free … but you can upgrade for more options). It has a wide range of workouts, depending on what you want to work on, with what intensity and length of time.

Also, Two Rivers Y in Moline is posting classes on FB live that you can join at home. The ONLY drawback – and it is definitely not their fault – is that there is no music because they don’t have streaming rights. But, just watching the instructors’ energy and enthusiasm this morning inspired me to get off my duff and try a few moves.

These sessions are great because they are connections with other human beings outside, even if they are talking to you on a screen. After doing it a couple of days, you begin to feel as if you are in a class with friends.

I would love to hear from you. I know I’m not the only gym/exercise addict out there. What are you doing to feed that habit? Please post any tips, ideas, or suggestions.

Alan Sivell

Alan Sivell

St. Ambrose Professor, Pizza-lover, Bulge Battler

Alan is a communications professor at St. Ambrose University and a former reporter for WQAD-TV who has exercised – and dieted – his entire life.