When the university shut down due to COVID-19 last March, all classes were shifted to the virtual environment. During the fall and spring semesters when some classes returned in person, all fitness classes remained online.
Instructors for these classes have had to completely change how they structure their classes. With students participating in classes from home, how they get materials, learn skills for class and engage with instructors have all changed.
“It has been a very tricky adjustment that we have had to make very quickly,” said Pamela Hickey, a yoga instructor at the university. “Going from instructing a class with a room full of students to teaching to a computer screen is very different.”
Hickey started out at Kent State as a karate instructor and has been instructing yoga for many years. She teaches six sections of yoga courses currently.
Fitness courses are taken for academic credit by students mainly as general electives and include classes such as Zumba, yoga, Pilates and self-defense. List of classes being offered are available on the Kent State course catalog.
The transition to the online environment was not easy and took some time to get used to, said Hickey. However, since classes have been operating online for almost three semesters, it has allowed time for both students and faculty to adjust.
“The fall semester was still a little hard with the online atmosphere; however, this spring has been very smooth and nice to have with my students. The students are really ready to learn, move their bodies and they feel pretty comfortable in their own homes,” Hickey said.
Despite all physical activity classes being held online, the university still has a lot of students participating in these classes. The university subtracted a few classes because of the pandemic. Instructors engage with students online through platforms such as Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams.
Students seem to be getting more comfortable speaking online and participating in fitness classes, Hickey said.
“A lot of students actually feel very comfortable in their own home since they are not right next to someone in class. It also gives them the chance to get cozy, which can be quite nice for yoga,” she said.
Hickey said she has been dedicated to still giving her students the proper yoga experience. She took an empty room in her house and converted it into a yoga studio to instruct in by setting up her yoga equipment and mats to teach.
The room also includes two monitors to allow her to better see her students during class. Hickey uses Zoom to conduct her classes and engage with students.
The university recently released a statement explaining its hopes to offer more in-person classes this fall. While it is not known what classes will be in person, Hickey is hoping the fitness classes will return to in-person soon.
“I think this has been a learning experience for all of us, but I am ready to get back to teaching in person soon,” Hickey said. “I am excited to get to connect with my students more in the future and just be able to get to know them more in general. That is something that I am not able to fully do while instructing online.”
Kenzie Johnston covers health and fitness. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.