Staying fit from afar: Butler HRC continues fitness classes online

The Butler HRC helps students stay fit by offering workout classes over Instagram Live. Collegian File Photo.


From downward dog in the dining room, to barre workouts in the living room using nothing more than a chair, HRC group fitness classes look a little different today than they did weeks ago. With workouts being offered on Instagram Live, students have the opportunity to get moving from the comfort of their own home. 

Like other on-campus organizations, the HRC has followed suit, moving their fitness classes online. A number of classes have been offered on the account on Instagram. 

The workout classes are done on Instagram Live, which means anyone interested in taking a class can do so live or in the 24 hours following the class. 

Although the class schedule looks a little different than it does while on campus, HRC employees and instructors are working to provide Yoga, HIIT, barre, pilates and bodyweight classes on the online platform. 

Josh Downing, director of recreation and wellness, said exercise is important to not just physical, but mental health — especially during this time of quarantine.

“It can help support you in the stressful time, knowing that if you’re getting enough sleep and you’re getting proper nutrition and you’re getting exercise that your immune system is going to be boosted,” Downing said. “It helps with your stress, which then will transfer to helping you continue to your success in the classroom and beyond.” 

Personal training classes, for those already enrolled, are also being offered over Zoom in one on one sessions. Workout challenges have also been posted on the Instagram, along with student resources on the BUBeWell website. 

Natalie Szocs, the assistant director of recreation and wellness, said using Instagram Live makes it difficult to know how many students partake in the workout. Instagram analytics show how many people click on the story, but does not show how long each person remained on the live stream. 

The feedback they have received so far has been positive, Szocs said, whether it is through direct messages on the Instagram account or comments in the live streams. Online classes may be a possibility even when face-to-face classes resume.  

“My team is starting to brainstorm ways that we can continue to offer virtual offerings even after things kind of return back to normal,” Szocs said. “I definitely see a place for virtual classes in the future, you know, the opportunity for people to engage anywhere and whenever especially when you’re not able to make it to the HRC.”

Senior marketing major Abby Smith said the addition of the HRC Instagram Live classes has encouraged her to work out at home. While the HRC was open, Smith said she did not attend group fitness classes and typically did her own workouts at the gym. 

“It was much harder for me to find the motivation to work out on my own when I don’t have a gym,” Smith said. “So having someone, you know, tell me what to do got me a lot more motivated to actually do the workouts.”

The online classes have also allowed for some social interaction even while social distancing. In an email, senior biology major Maggie Broderick said she has been able to invite friends from other schools to join in on the live streams and her mom has joined her in her room while she does the workout. 

Even though classes may no longer meet in person, Broderick said they still feel personal. 

“The instructors are still cheering you on and encouraging you, and I love it,” Broderick said in an email. “That is one of my favorite parts of the workouts because it feels as though I am almost physically there with the instructors as they cheer me on.”

For the fitness instructors, the transition has been an adjustment. Instructors are tasked with creating workouts that can be done from home with minimal equipment. Colleen Kirby, the  undergraduate assistant for group fitness, said she has to be creative. 

At school, Kirby, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders major, normally teaches cycling classes, but since not all students have access to a stationary bike at home she has begun teaching barre, a workout style that uses movements similar to ballet. Since there is no barre, a chair is used for the workout instead.   

Kirby said she hopes the classes help people find routine, normalcy and movement in their days in social isolation. 

“I hope it just gives people some joy and gives people you know, a little bit of time to not be in their head about the whole situation,” Kirby said. “Just focus on something that’s good for their body and their mind.” 

Makayla Hayes, a senior health sciences major and group fitness instructor, said now is a good time for more hesitant students to get involved with group fitness. 

“Maybe they feel that they’re at different levels than other participants that are taking [a class],” Hayes said. “So it’s awesome that you can show up in your pajamas, you can show up however you want, you have no other students that are watching you. Not that other students would judge, but you know, no judgment because you’re in the comfort of your own home and you can still improve and get a good workout in.” 

The HRC is continuing to look at more options for online classes with the hopes of making them accessible to anyone who is interested. Students are also encouraged to reach out, whether it is over social media on the Instagram or via email at

“[I] just want to make sure that all students know that we’re here to help and support you,” Downing said. “And whatever you need.”

In an email, Szocs said the group fitness schedule may change or be impacted by future university decisions regarding the coronavirus.


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