The stay-at-home orders in response to COVID-19 can’t stop people from being active in their pursuit of physical fitness.

A couple of local gym owners already knew they could reach their clients through remote and online programs. Now they are expanding their audience through the public platforms Facebook and Instagram to reach people eager for structured physical activity to get them through the quarantine.

Chris Williams, owner of CFT Fitness in Tracy, opened the Facebook group Stay Healthy San Joaquin County to the public a little more than a week ago in response to the COVID-19 shutdowns. He said that working through Facebook isn’t exactly a new approach, but it does have new relevance.

“It’s new in the sense that it’s our only option, but it’s not new in that we’ve offered remote programming in the past,” he said, noting that phone-based applications designed for commuters were part of what his gym offered. Now that more people are staying home and can’t go to the gym, he saw a need he was ready to respond to. “It wasn’t a huge step. It’s something we’ve been working toward for a long time. It’s just forced us to speed up the process. We were lucky that that we were already fielding an online program and looking to build an online presence.”

After the second week of March, when stay-at-home orders also required gyms to close, Williams and the coaches at CFT Fitness connected with their members through live classes twice a day on the Zoom online conference app. 

“The goal here was to create some consistency and give people that feeling of socializing that they are missing,” he said.

Once he realized that many people would want better home fitness information, the Stay Healthy San Joaquin County group was a logical next step. It’s designed to appeal to fitness buffs as well as those who want to use their downtime to begin a fitness routine.

“With that group, we’re able to offer a ton of free information on very basic stuff, like body-weight movements,” he said. 

Working with Vinny Pelillo, who owns Altamont Performance Lab, CFT Fitness’ next-door neighbor on Commercial Drive, they’ve posted how-to videos on basic exercises like situps and pushups.

“We have body weight workouts written by Vinny and APL that we post daily, where the most it requires is a backpack, or something to hold some weight for resistance purposes. If you don’t have any type of dumbbells or anything at home, it’s still totally doable.”

Many of Pelillo’s clients are high school athletes whose season has been put on hold or taken away, and he figures more of them will turn toward online programs as the quarantine continues. He has posted his tutorials on Facebook through his Altamont Fitness Lab page since early March, and those are on the Stay Healthy San Joaquin County group now as well. 

“We put up these daily at-home workouts where it’s no equipment but still following strength and conditioning to where you can train at home, you can still get results, you can still get stronger, faster,” he said. “It goes beyond the training. There’s the mental and psychological, emotional, being able to connect with them and not meet them at the gym. It’s working. So that’s the beauty of it.”

The West High volleyball team is one of the teams he works with, and West coach Christine Toon said her players have been following Pelillo’s programs since the season was put on hold.

“He has been posting daily workouts for the kids to do,” she said. “I get them on Facebook and send them to the kids.”

Pelillo said he started working with the West team when the coach’s daughter, Lauren Toon, now a junior, was a freshman on the varsity team. He helped Lauren rehabilitate after a knee injury in the fall and worked with the rest of the team as well.

He added that the first local high school to get involved in an online program was Kimball High’s weight training program, run by physical education instructor Pam Cavallaro.

“They needed help creating a program that would really get the kids to be involved,” Pelillo said, adding that he wanted kids to see it as more than a P.E. elective, as something that they would take seriously. “These kids have an opportunity to come into the gym, train, and a lot of them are athletes who weren’t getting what they wanted. We created a whole new culture, being able to provide a custom program for the high school that was going to follow the entire school year and get them results.”

He said the online format had made it easy for coaches to pass along routines to athletes, especially now that they don’t see them in person.

“Right there, it starts the conversation,” he said. “You have some kids who have full gyms in their parents’ garages. If you don’t have any equipment, we can still be very creative with the programming.”

Cavallaro, who teaches P.E. at Kimball High, said working with the gym had helped her with her effort to create a remote program to include physical education as part of distance learning, which is most likely how local schools will finish their 2019-20 school year.

“I’ll be sending those out and they’ll be starting those after spring break,” she said. “I’ve got about four weeks of material right now that I’ll be sending out to my students.”

She added that while the high school has a weight room and exercise equipment, the remote programs she expects students to start using will require very little.

“Everything is body-weight-based. If you want to add more weight, you can put some books in a backpack and work with that,” she said. “With any of my students who want to do more, I text Vinny and he will write them a program. Vinny is writing programs based on equipment we have in our house.”

Pelillo added that people embrace the educational aspect of online workouts.

“The cool thing with the public pages is we can monitor the likes and the engagement, people asking questions,” he said. “We’ve noticed to that, the more in-depth we go, people definitely want to see somebody’s face, more than just reading a bunch of words. Video, we tend to see, works a lot better.”

“People have a lot of questions,” he added. “We’ve even been getting more psychological-based stuff. People are bored being at home. Anxiety is at an all-time high. What do I do now that I don’t have my gym to go to anymore?”

Williams said the Stay Healthy San Joaquin County group was up to about 200 members as of early this week, with people sharing not just fitness routines but also nutritional advice and tutorials on healthy meals. Williams expects it to grow as more people learn about it.

“We’re trying to open it up to as many people as possible and encourage as many people in the San Joaquin County and the Tracy area to join,” he said. “This is totally free. We’re not asking for anything in return. We realized that health is the greatest shield in this fight, so if we can make a few more people healthy, that just means a few more people will be successful in battling this thing.”

04-02-online gyms

 

Gym owners make fast transition to online format

 

By Bob Brownne

Tracy Press

The stay-at-home orders in response to COVID-19 can’t stop people from being active in their pursuit of physical fitness.

A couple of local gym owners already knew they could reach their clients through remote and online programs. Now they are expanding their audience through the public platforms Facebook and Instagram to reach people eager for structured physical activity to get them through the quarantine.

Chris Williams, owner of CFT Fitness in Tracy, opened the Facebook group Stay Healthy San Joaquin County [melanie1] to the public a little more than a week ago in response to the COVID-19 shutdowns. He said that working through Facebook isn’t exactly a new approach, but it does have new relevance.

“It’s new in the sense that it’s our only option, but it’s not new in that we’ve offered remote programming in the past,” he said, noting that phone-based applications designed for commuters were part of what his gym offered. Now that more people are staying home and can’t go to the gym, he saw a need he was ready to respond to. “It wasn’t a huge step. It’s something we’ve been working toward for a long time. It’s just forced us to speed up the process. We were lucky that that we were already fielding an online program and looking to build an online presence.”

After the second week of March, when stay-at-home orders also required gyms to close, Williams and the coaches at CFT Fitness connected with their members through live classes twice a day on the Zoom online conference app.

“The goal here was to create some consistency and give people that feeling of socializing that they are missing,” he said.

Once he realized that many people would want better home fitness information, the Stay Healthy San Joaquin County group was a logical next step. It’s designed to appeal to fitness buffs as well as those who want to use their downtime to begin a fitness routine.

“With that group, we’re able to offer a ton of free information on very basic stuff, like body-weight movements,” he said.

Working with Vinny Pelillo, who owns Altamont Performance Lab, CFT Fitness’ next-door neighbor on Commercial Drive, they’ve posted how-to videos on basic exercises like situps and pushups.

“We have body weight workouts written by Vinny and APL that we post daily, where the most it requires is a backpack, or something to hold some weight for resistance purposes. If you don’t have any type of dumbbells or anything at home, it’s still totally doable.”

Many of Pelillo’s clients are high school athletes whose season has been put on hold or taken away, and he figures more of them will turn toward online programs as the quarantine continues. He has posted his tutorials on Facebook through his Altamont Fitness Lab page since early March, and those are on the Stay Healthy San Joaquin County group now as well.

“We put up these daily at-home workouts where it’s no equipment but still following strength and conditioning to where you can train at home, you can still get results, you can still get stronger, faster,” he said. “It goes beyond the training. There’s the mental and psychological, emotional, being able to connect with them and not meet them at the gym. It’s working. So that’s the beauty of it.”

The West High volleyball team is one of the teams he works with, and West coach Christine Toon said her players have been following Pelillo’s programs since the season was put on hold.

“He has been posting daily workouts for the kids to do,” she said. “I get them on Facebook and send them to the kids.”

Pelillo said he started working with the West team when the coach’s daughter, Lauren Toon, now a junior, was a freshman on the varsity team. He helped Lauren rehabilitate after a knee injury in the fall and worked with the rest of the team as well.

He added that the first local high school to get involved in an online program was Kimball High’s weight training program, run by physical education instructor Pam Cavallaro.

“They needed help creating a program that would really get the kids to be involved,” Pelillo said, adding that he wanted kids to see it as more than a P.E. elective, as something that they would take seriously. “These kids have an opportunity to come into the gym, train, and a lot of them are athletes who weren’t getting what they wanted. We created a whole new culture, being able to provide a custom program for the high school that was going to follow the entire school year and get them results.”

He said the online format had made it easy for coaches to pass along routines to athletes, especially now that they don’t see them in person.

“Right there, it starts the conversation,” he said. “You have some kids who have full gyms in their parents’ garages. If you don’t have any equipment, we can still be very creative with the programming.”

Cavallaro, who teaches P.E. at Kimball High, said working with the gym had helped her with her effort to create a remote program to include physical education as part of distance learning, which is most likely how local schools will finish their 2019-20 school year.

“I’ll be sending those out and they’ll be starting those after spring break,” she said. “I’ve got about four weeks of material right now that I’ll be sending out to my students.”

She added that while the high school has a weight room and exercise equipment, the remote programs she expects students to start using will require very little.

“Everything is body-weight-based. If you want to add more weight, you can put some books in a backpack and work with that,” she said. “With any of my students who want to do more, I text Vinny and he will write them a program. Vinny is writing programs based on equipment we have in our house.”

Pelillo added that people embrace the educational aspect of online workouts.

“The cool thing with the public pages is we can monitor the likes and the engagement, people asking questions,” he said. “We’ve noticed to that, the more in-depth we go, people definitely want to see somebody’s face, more than just reading a bunch of words. Video, we tend to see, works a lot better.”

“People have a lot of questions,” he added. “We’ve even been getting more psychological-based stuff. People are bored being at home. Anxiety is at an all-time high. What do I do now that I don’t have my gym to go to anymore?”

Williams said the Stay Healthy San Joaquin County group was up to about 200 members as of early this week, with people sharing not just fitness routines but also nutritional advice and tutorials on healthy meals. Williams expects it to grow as more people learn about it.

“We’re trying to open it up to as many people as possible and encourage as many people in the San Joaquin County and the Tracy area to join,” he said. “This is totally free. We’re not asking for anything in return. We realized that health is the greatest shield in this fight, so if we can make a few more people healthy, that just means a few more people will be successful in battling this thing.”

 

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com or 830-4227.

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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