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Western students are getting innovative when finding ways to stay active during quarantine

Due to the temporary closures of gyms and studios, people are finding new ways to workout at home. // Illustration by Rachel Alexander

By Cameron Sires

Facilities like the Wade King Recreation Center came to a close after Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” order Monday, March 23, leaving students to look for other resources to stay physically active.

“The Wade King Recreation Center has been utilizing our online platforms [website and Instagram] to share content with our rec center community. We have also been sharing free resources from accredited fitness sites for people to make use of through the at-home webpage we have developed online,” said Robert Hofstetter, the Wade King Recreation Center coordinator. 

Hofstetter said the rec center is still finding ways to provide content that helps keep students engaged. He said students are also using their own resources and creativity to stay active. 

While the rec center can’t provide in-person classes, Hofstetter said there are many options provided on the Western rec center website.

Hofstetter said a few classes the rec center is offering through Zoom are yoga, belly dancing and world dance parties, which center on non-western dances. 

Hofstetter said Western, in partnership with Central Washington University, launched the "WWU Rec Step-Forward Challenge” on April 15. According to the Westerns Campus Recreational Services’ website, this is a three-week-long challenge to engage more of Western community in healthy activity as well as friendly competition with the Central rec center. Students count their steps and add them to a spreadsheet provided on the rec services page

“As we adapt and evolve, other fitness challenges such as a 5k flash challenge will be offered,” Hofstetter said.

Aquatics coordinator Richelle Williams said the Western aquatic’s Instagram has been posting dryland workouts for swimmers. On Tuesday, April 21, there was a virtual triathlon swimming program with workouts and tips. 

Ron Arnold, a fitness and instructional coordinator at the rec center, said students have become creative when staying active during this time. 

“Normally students bring their 2-gallon water bottle into the rec center to drink. Now they are using those jugs of water as weighted implements and doing fitness videos,” Arnold said. 

Two graduate students with 25-pound backpacks started hiking 26.2 miles from Bellingham to the border, Arnold said. He said another student’s landlord gave them permission to turn their garage into a dance studio because they love Zumba.

“I’ve had to adapt a lot of my workouts with household items that have a good amount of weight on them, like buckets of paint in replacement of a kettlebell,” said Nicole Peterson, a third-year special and elementary education student. 

Fourth-year theatre student Nic Fahey said most of her physical activities came mainly from the outdoors before COVID-19.

“I usually hike a lot when the weather gets nicer so it’s been tough with all of the trails closing. I’ve been trying to supplement that with longer walks but they don’t seem as challenging,” Fahey said.

David King, a fourth-year kinesiology student, said he and his roommates created a backyard gym, inspired by the various sized tires and metal bar that recently appeared on the rec center field.

Student works out with tires and a metal pole provided at the Wade King Recreation Center field. // Photo by Cameron Sires

“The tires were brought up by an anonymous contributor and the pipe is a cross member of one of the soccer goals that seems to be useful in a number of ways,” Hofstetter said. 

 Before making his own gym, King used the tires at the rec center field. 

“I’ve gone up there and done a lot of exercises with the tires, flipping them and doing some outdoor bodyweight movements, ” King said. “It’s been nice being in the sunshine.”

The gym that King and his roommates created was nestled in the corner of their backyard. They used kettlebells, tires and a metal pipe.

“To make a squat rack, I went to Home Depot and got a $20 metal pipe and then I just went to a tire place and asked them if they had any old tires. They gave them to me for free,” King said. “I found two weights on the side of the road for free and bought a connector at Walmart. We also have a band that we hook up to the back of my car and use it for pulls, bicep curls and whatnot.” 

King recommended Googling bodyweight exercises. 

“There's a lot of really well done pictures of little workouts that you can do here and there that can walk you through it and they're really simple and really fun to do and into resistance training,” he said.

While there are various resources students can use to stay active, King’s roommate, Ian Monasmith, a fourth-year economics student said motivation is another factor. 

“I find that going to the gym separates the home environment from the workout space. Right now my room is where I like to relax and mixing those two spaces has been difficult,” Monasmith said. 

Monasmith said he works three days a week and is taking four classes so he tries to stay active when he has time, but doesn’t have a schedule for it. 

Fehey said motivating herself is hard when parks and trails are closed.

“The main reason why I workout is to make hiking and backpacking easier. It seems like all of the trails and campsites are gonna be closed this summer,” Fehey said. “So sometimes working out can feel a little pointless since I don’t have that goal anymore.”

Peterson found with the extra free time she has, she’s been more motivated and putting more time toward working out and self growth.

”Before, when everything was normal, it was really hard to find a good time to work out. Now I have time, I can create my own workouts that are best for me,” Peterson said.

Peterson said she gives herself an ultimatum: either workout or do homework. She said homework never wins. 

King suggests staying accountable to workouts will help with motivation. 

“One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is write it down on a paper, a calendar or set a phone reminder because it keeps you accountable and on-track with your daily activity,” he said. “Even finding some boxing gloves, going outside and punching a tree, as stupid as it may sound, will get your heart rate up and get out all that built-up emotion, just something as little as that for 10 minutes a day can enhance your physical and mental health.” 


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