Thinking outside the gym—SRC gets creative to promote wellness

Contact: Erin Flynn
A yoga instructor livestreams a class on her ipad.

Taylor Jackson livestreams a yoga class.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—An executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed all gyms and athletic facilities across the state until at least Monday, March 30—including Western Michigan University's Student Recreation Center—to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. But that action, says University Recreation Director Amy Seth, doesn't mandate inaction.

"Staying active during this difficult time is really important," she says. "Stress can affect our brains, and the rest of the body feels it. Exercise and physical activity can help keep us grounded. If your body feels good, so does your mind. A little movement can go a long way to keeping us positive."

Jackson focuses on meditation during her class.

With SRC services physically offline, the staff is getting creative and rolling out live and on-demand workouts online.

"After we found out that we needed to close and not have in-person classes available, this was the next best thing," says Beth Northuis, assistant director for fitness and wellness.

Students bike on campus.

She and her graduate assistant, Taylor Jackson, started brainstorming classes that could be either recorded or streamed live on the WMU SRC Facebook page. So far, they've tackled yoga, cardio and strength training and high intensity interval training. The first livestreamed yoga class has already been viewed more than 2,100 times. The pair also has plans for some outdoor classes as well as mindfulness and mental health exercises.

"Going out and doing something intentional is really going to help keep you sharp, active and alert," Northuis says.

Instead of heading to the SRC, many students took advantage of Tuesday's sun to get out and enjoy some fresh air with activities like skateboarding and biking.

Ryan Keough plays tennis with friends.

"I’m taking as many precautions as I can to make sure that I'm doing my part and making sure that I’m staying safe and healthy," says Ryan Keough, who kept social distancing in mind when he and his friends chose to hit the tennis court.

The SRC will update its Facebook page as more activities are scheduled. All of the workouts and livestreams are free and available to everyone—from students, faculty and staff to parents in the community home with their kids.

"We're trying to provide a wide variety of options and trying to really meet the needs of a wider population," says Northuis.

Wellness is more than a hobby for her and the rest of the SRC staff—it's their mission.

"My staff feels passionate about keeping our Bronco family positive, healthy and active during this time period," say Seth.

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