Staying fit and having fun through the lockdown

April 21, 2020

Group fitness instructor Shannon Glennie is beaming into the homes of her senior fitness participants through the lockdown, and bringing a bit of extra community and laughter into their days.

Shannon retrained in fitness after a career in teaching, and she works with a range of personal training clients at her local gym in Mosgiel.

She also takes group fitness classes, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, she’s been making good use of her time, and working towards her New Zealand Certificate in Freestyle Group Exercise (Level 4), with the help of the Skills Active 2020 scholarships.

As well as pump, spin and circuit classes, Shannon also leads ‘Fit and Fun’ classes for senior participants. These sessions – blending movement and music with chair-based strength training – draw in the crowds, with up to 50 people coming to class at times.

“With my seniors, they may have shoulder injuries, sometimes there are medical problems, knee issues – but we all just do what we can and have some fun doing it.

“I’ll try to make the exercise functional. So we work with stretchy bands, for instance, bringing your arms up wide and over your head. You are mimicking that movement of putting on a coat. We do a lot of exercises bringing our legs up and over, such as stepping into a bath or shower.

“A lot of the participants live on their own. Or they are caring for a partner who is not as able. So it’s also a social thing. I always arrive and there’s a great buzz of conversation, groups laughing and chatting, and many go out afterwards for coffee – I know friendships have developed through the group.”

When the lockdown started, Shannon wished to keep her senior crew connected to their exercise. Like many other fitness professionals, she took up the option of holding classes via Zoom, and these have proved nearly as popular as her in-person classes. Three days a week she takes a class, live from her living room – and with a mix of her usual crew and some newbies, she has had as many as 60 people zooming in.

Shannon is instructor, producer and tech support. If anybody has an issue with the Zoom platform, they email her and she takes them through steps to troubleshoot the problem. She also uses her time at the end of the class to put out an offer of assistance, such as help with groceries.

When she’s not taking her Zoom classes, Shannon is also fitting in her own exercise – she’s doing some light runs, and like many people she’s taking part in the free Les Mills classes on television. She’s also enjoying working on her Skills Active qualification, which will formally recognise all of the knowledge and experience she has developed in her years of taking group fitness classes.

One of the challenges of taking any session, says Shannon, is mixed ability. This is especially the case when she has new participants trying out the class.

“With the seniors, I’m always telling them: No matter what we’re doing you should always be able to talk to your neighbour.

“With the online classes, it worried me a little that I wasn’t able to look out there and see how everyone is doing. So instead I keep reiterating the talk test and going at your own pace.”

She has also adapted the Fit and Fun class so that the participants can make use of what they have at home, and she does the same herself.

“Not everybody has resistance bands, so I’ve taken the bands out of the routine. A lot of them have their own weights at home, but otherwise I’ve told them to grab a couple of tins out of the cupboard. I have been using two bottles of wine, which everyone seems to find funny. I keep telling them, I promise the bottles are still full!”