NU Recreation launches virtual personal training program


Daily file photo by Owen Stidman

As Henry Crown Sports Pavilion stays closed, its trainers are transitioning their fitness training online.

Ellen O'Brien, Reporter

With the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion closed for training, Northwestern Recreation is offering virtual personal training workouts for clients to complete at home.

Those interested in the virtual personal training program can purchase three, six or 12 training sessions online with a master or staff trainer. The sessions are conducted entirely over Zoom with a certified personal trainer.

Communication senior Jonathan Connolly, a staff personal trainer, said the goal of the virtual training program is to move the same program online that is typically conducted through Crown Sports Pavilion. He said that online training allows the clients to find more autonomy within their workouts, compared to an in-person training session.

“Virtual training is a way for somebody to come to the conclusion themselves that you can do a workout anywhere — at any time, in any space — and get the results that you want,” he said.

Connolly said he hopes the virtual training program will continue, even as gyms and fitness centers begin to reopen. By enabling people who are homebound or uncomfortable in a gym setting to participate in the program at home, the roster of clients becomes much larger in number and more diverse, he said.

However, Connolly said sometimes virtual personal training can feel like a less personalized experience, which works for some clients, but not for others. Some of the challenges that arise from conducting an at-home training session include difficulty ensuring proper form and finding creative solutions to a lack of available exercise equipment, he said.

“The majority of clients find it a nice change of pace from what we’ve been doing,” Connolly said. “However, that being said, because of COVID-19, because everybody’s stuck at home, I have some clients who are parents who have their kids crawling all over them during the workouts.”

In addition to offering virtual personal training sessions, some NU Recreation trainers and group exercise instructors are also teaching private virtual fitness classes.

Every week, Cerina Dubois, a Feinberg Ph.D. student, teaches a high-intensity interval training and a total body conditioning class for YourLife, the NU wellness program for faculty and staff. Dubois said she also runs private Zoom classes, which only cost $2 a week for participants.

While some gyms and fitness centers have reopened, Dubois said many of her clients have continued to participate in the Zoom workouts.

“People are loving the Zoom platform,” she said. “It took me by surprise. After four months, I think people are like, ‘Screw it, I love working out at home. I love the convenience and I’m tired of paying high prices for a class at the gym.’”

To keep clients accountable and motivated, Dubois said she runs fitness challenges through her private Zoom classes. She said if clients complete a designated workout or class, they are entered into a drawing for a fitness-related prize.

Medill junior Thomas Quinn said that while virtual fitness classes sound interesting, he never participated in them before the pandemic, so he is unlikely to start joining them now.

“However, I do know people who do virtual classes now based on what they did before the pandemic and they like it,” Quinn said.

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Twitter: @ellenobrien0

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