NU trainers offer their tips for at-home workouts, fitness and wellbeing


Daily File Photo by Owen Stidman

Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. With public gyms still a coronavirus hotspot, many students wondered how they would stay physically active on or off-campus.

Julia Moore, Reporter

During a period of such abrupt change, taking breaks to exercise is more important than ever.

Amie Simmons, assistant director of fitness and wellness at Northwestern, said getting some type of movement in each day is crucial.

“It doesn’t have to be long,” Simmons said. “It could be 10 or 15 minutes. Just to get the blood pumping and get moving.”

Simmons started taking two walks per day as a way to stay active and get fresh air when stay-at-home orders began. A walk can help improve mood and be “mentally clarifying,” she said. If a walk isn’t possible, getting outside in any context is important, Simmons added.

Communication junior Jonathan Connolly, a staff trainer at NU, also recommends going on “quarantine safe” walks or runs — or, if possible, incorporating basic elements of strength training into one’s daily routine.

“The biggest thing is that we don’t realize how much more sedentary we are now that we’re not on campus,” Connolly said.

Though many find working out at home intimidating, Connolly said that a few foundational movements can get you a “long way.” He recommends squat lunges, push ups, pull ups and hip hinges — toe touches with weights.

“You don’t need to completely wreck your body every single time that you workout in order to see improvement in health,” Connolly said.

Connolly added that the NU Recreation Instagram and Facebook accounts posted workouts every Monday in May. He and staff trainer Cerina Dubois led each weekly workout.

Dubois, currently in her first year of a Doctoral program in Public Health, offers free group fitness classes twice a week for NU faculty and hosts private classes on Thursday nights for $2. As students’ financial concerns prevent them from seeking out personalized fitness training, she said there are plenty of free fitness resources available, particularly on YouTube.

“People are looking for motivation,” Dubois said. “YouTube is a fantastic resource to look up any kind of yoga or (high intensity interval training). HIIT training is fantastic, and tons of YouTubers are doing it.”

For those looking to adopt a more formal workout program, Simmons said NU Recreation plans to launch virtual personal training in the next few weeks for students seeking more one-on-one interaction.

She also plans to offer virtual fitness consultations over Zoom starting in June. The consultation is free of charge, Simmons said, and can provide students with a general guide to their own fitness and wellbeing.

The consultation can act as a “great starting point” for students looking for a more formal fitness routine, Simmons said.

She added that her team is working to provide resources for all students’ fitness while at home, regardless of ability. Simmons highlighted routines nicknamed “sit and get fit,” which are centered around movements one can do while completely sedentary. The movements cater to those who use wheelchairs but are for “anyone, regardless of ability,” she said.

She’s also seen trainers across the fitness world making an effort to include clear visual cues in their videos for those who have visual or auditory impairments.

For Simmons, the bottom line is that everyone is welcome.

“No matter what you’re able to do, we will help you find a way,” she said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @juliasemoore

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