While Gov. Kay Ivey’s coronavirus task force demarcated essential and nonessential businesses Friday, Dothan companies on both sides of the schism agree that fitness remains an essential activity.
Streaming fitness routines on a variety of digital platforms have allowed several local businesses to stay connected with their members, while giving them an opportunity to stay active.
“Mobility is essential to health,” said Jason Jackson, chief operating officer of Health Actions Physical Therapy. “During a time like this, where people are shut in and not able to participate in activities, seniors in particular who have underlying health conditions can worsen during a time like that. We want to keep people healthy so they can face a crisis like this.”
Its exercise program Silver Fit, based on the national Silver Sneakers program, started being livestreamed on Facebook at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. A fitness instructor demonstrates activities geared toward older adults that can be done in the home on a floor or chair.
“During this time, since everyone is in their home, they will give suggestions for things in their homes, if you don’t have weights in your home, such as food cans,” Tonye Frith, community and physician liaison, said. “There are ways you can stretch, improvising with different things that you have in your home.”
The lessons are not restricted to Health Actions patients, but can be accessed by anyone who likes its Facebook page and watches the live actions. Those who view the fitness lessons can also participate in a live chat and ask the instructor questions.
Health Actions Physical Therapy has been designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security as an essential health-care service and infrastructure, according to Jackson.
“We have a special responsibility to stay open and serve the public,” Jackson said.
While the Dothan, Enterprise and Troy locations remain open, screening patients for the COVID-19 upon arrival, it also offers e-visit opportunities where patients can participate in physical therapy services using a computer for those who may be uncomfortable physically coming in the facility or who are sick.
Other fitness centers in the area, many of which closed voluntarily before the public-health order mandated it Friday, are offering similar services.
The Nature Gallery Yoga and Massage Studio in Dothan has just started using Zoom, a free digital platform typically used for business teleconferences, to stream yoga sessions with its instructors.
“It’s a stressful time right now,” said Jason Watford, yoga instructor and massage therapist at Nature Gallery. “We can’t go out to public places and do this in a group setting, and yoga is just good for overall health, mental health, to keep us in check, keep the mind steady and our bodies healthy.”
Although staffers at Nature Gallery are still learning how to use the online tool to continue to provide services to its members, Watford says there has already been a lot of interest in the few sessions they held this past week. He hopes to be able to stream twice a day next week with Venyasa and Yin yoga styles suitable for all learner levels.
“It’s important for our members to maintain flexibility and muscle strength and not to lose what they’ve gained, and some people are used to coming to class, and it’s hard to do that on your own,” Watford said. “You can watch a YouTube video, but sometimes when, you know, coming here is part of someone’s routine … we’re just trying to keep things as normal as possible for them during this crazy time that we’re having.”
Up to 300 people can be hosted on the stream, Watford said. The business is also maintaining contact with members via Facebook.
Other gyms in the area are using digital resources to connect with members.
Crunch, a large fitness center on West Main Street, is livestreaming several workouts a day on its Facebook page and encouraging members to download Crunch Live for workout videos and connection opportunities.
Crunch Dothan’s owner has frozen payments for members during the public-health crisis.