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'Exercise’ Your Commitment to Stay Fit During Pandemic

October 29, 2020

by Alan Blitz

Like most of you, when the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order occurred in March, our lives immediately changed.  No visits to restaurants, theaters, NSSC and other familiar places. Contact with family and friends has been greatly limited. 

With these dramatic changes, how would we mentally and physically cope with the limitations of COVID-19? 

I realized there was one thing I could control: maintaining my long-standing commitment to exercise and encouraging friends to start their own exercise routine. How best to get started in the pandemic environment? 

Fitness Classes: A Great Way to Stay Healthy at Home

“Fitness classes offer a set schedule every week, so you know you'll get your workout done. They also offer people who are a bit more isolated a chance to be, virtually, with others. After class I offer time for people to ‘socialize’ in the Zoom virtual session,” said Katie Morgan, ACE-CMES, manager of Fitness and Wellness at NSSC. 


As we navigate this pandemic, Katie believes virtual fitness will become the new normal. “It is accessible for almost everyone, and most people can get a fantastic workout not needing much, if any, equipment,” she pointed out. 

“Scheduling can be very flexible, and it allows a more isolated participant to be ‘social’ and brings people together during this challenging time,” she added. 

How the Pandemic Is Changing Our Exercise Habits

A recent New York Times article asks the question: Are you exercising more or less since the coronavirus pandemic began? 

The article makes some salient observations: 

“According to a new study that focused on physical activity in the United Kingdom, most of us—not surprisingly—have been less physically active since the pandemic and its waves of lockdowns and quarantines began." 

“Some people, however, seem to be exercising as much or more than before, and surprisingly, a hefty percentage of those extra-active people are older than 65. The findings have not yet been peer reviewed, but they add to a mounting body of evidence from around the globe that the coronavirus is remaking how we move, although not necessarily in the ways we may have anticipated.”

Meeting the ‘Staying Fit” Challenge 

As the pandemic arrived, Bob Markoff of Wilmette, was concerned that he would no longer be able to work out or find the motivation to continue do so.


“When the NSSC Fitness Center closed, I signed up for the virtual Stay Fit at Home class as soon as it was offered,” Markoff recalled. “I started taking long walks around my neighborhood and purchased a set of fitness bands that hang from the top of a closed door. 

“When the center re-opened, I returned to in-person training sessions twice a week plus additional time on my own in the center. I have also continued the virtual sessions and long walks.”

Bob was asked for his advice on how to “keep moving” during the pandemic and its benefits to physical and mental health.

“I must let you know that I am probably the wrong person to answer this question: I hate exercise and have avoided it like a plague for many years! Last December I found I had an increasing amount of free time as I reduced my work hours and returned to the Fitness and Wellness Center for some physical therapy. Meeting the friendly staff prompted me to start exercising.”


When Bob returned to the Fitness Center a friend gave him a book titled: “Younger Next Year.” He explained, “The book tells us that we can reduce the gradual decline of aging and actually reverse some things if we exercise six days a week."

With a touch of humor, Bob said, “Perish the thought!” But he added, “Exercise must be undertaken as if it is our job and livelihood. I also purchased an Apple Watch to monitor my heart, exercise and calories burned on a daily basis. I now exercise every day, after all, what else is there to do in “lock-down?

“By the way, I still hate exercise,” Bob exclaimed. “But I have decided that I don’t want to slip into old age and accept a gradual decline. I want to grow old and feel as young as I think I am.”

Claudia Dancing, a Winnetka resident, was worried she would lose the level of fitness and strength that she attained while recovering from the results of a fractured sacrum.

“The online virtual Stay Fit at Home class has been a life-saver,” Claudia said. “And now that I’ve regained much strength and stamina, personal fitness sessions with Katie are bringing me forward even more.”

Claudia has found that Katie projects herself easily via the Zoom virtual format. “She is cheerful, encouraging, and highly skilled. She formats the class exercises to suit any level, chair or standing. 

“She gives a variety of exercises which helps avoid boredom and develops the brain. I like the convenience of exercising at home. I like feeling good because my body feels good after exercising.”

A firm believer in the “move it or lose it” approach, Claudia recalled, “I saw myself losing muscle while recuperating from my fracture. I am a confirmed believer in the necessity of exercise.”

She is highly complimentary of the NSSC staff for making the online experience as simple as possible. Each morning before class she receives an email containing the link for that day’s session. “A simple click on the link and you are connected to the instructor,” Claudia said. “Equipment can be as simple as the kitchen counter, a dining chair, and a couple of cans. No need to purchase any fancy stuff.”

Get Started Today

The Fitness and Wellness program now has several virtual fitness opportunities: one-on-one virtual training, Stay Fit at Home (a general strength class), and Rise and Shine (a balance and mobility class). 

To get started on a fitness and wellness program, visit: https://www.nssc.org/fitness-center. For additional information or to arrange a tour of the Fitness Center, contact Katie Morgan at kmorgan@nssc.org or call 847.784.6003.