Fitness instructors reflect on remote classes

University Recreation provided employees media centers for better technology, lighting during online courses



Madison Ruther, WSU junior kinesiology major, said although fitness classes shifted to an online format, University Recreation instructors took advantage of the chance to learn new workouts.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen roots editor

As fall comes to a close, WSU fitness instructors reflect on ways they made the most of teaching online classes amid COVID-19 regulations.

The majority of this year was spent learning how to thrive in a new form of fitness instruction, said Maddison Ruther, WSU junior kinesiology major and group fitness instructor.

The switch to online provided an opportunity to learn new techniques and bodyweight exercises, which are workouts that do not require equipment, Ruther said.

WSU University Recreation set up online class media centers with new technology and lighting to accommodate the instructors’ and patrons’ needs, said Zhuoli Axelton, WSU yoga fitness instructor.

Axelton, fifth-year doctoral accounting student, said she is thankful the UREC gave her and other fitness instructors an opportunity to work during the pandemic.

“Personally, I feel very fortunate to be able to get some form of social interaction,” she said.

Ruther said teaching online provided her a way to learn something new, as well as incorporate different ways to work out.

“If you are on vacation, then you can still do these workouts because they require no equipment,” she said.

Ruther started teaching online fitness classes last semester, she said. She was teaching an in-person cardio and core class, but after spring break, she began teaching from her dorm room.

Ruther said some of the classes she taught this semester were in person, but the majority were online.

The most challenging part about remote instruction was engaging with participants who opted to leave their cameras off, she said. However, the flexibility of online teaching was worth it.

Axelton said becoming a fitness instructor has helped improve her mental focus and the discipline to work out on her own.

It is difficult to find the motivation to work out right now, but the UREC is doing the best with what they have, Ruther said. One of the tactics she uses to inspire herself is listening to her favorite playlist.

“If I am teaching spin, I will find a fun playlist and pick songs to match the tempo, too,” she said.

Axelton said seven to 10 people usually attend her fitness classes, which is fairly high in comparison to others.

For Ruther, the attendance numbers depend on the class. There are typically only three people in a spin class.

Ruther said the UREC requires a six-week training program to become an instructor, and many of the concepts between the program and her degree overlapped.

She said she would like to pursue a career as a physical therapist.

The online classes at the UREC are free and people can sign up online. In-person classes also are generally much cheaper than usual. For example, people can purchase a six-week spin class for $13, Ruther said.

“We are here to motivate people to work out, not make a profit,” she said.