Winter break usually means downtime for USC Recreational Sports. Not this year.
With many people staying at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the need for exercise has become more crucial than ever. So what started as a few online workout sessions has blossomed into a new USC Rec Sports partnership with WORK fitness studio — based in Irvine — to offer on-demand and live classes to students and staff through the winter break and into next semester.
“Because we have a longer break, a majority of the state’s gyms aren’t open and the weather’s colder, we have a really unique opportunity to ramp up our programming,” said Mike Munson, associate director of USC Recreational Sports.
The classes through WORK are both prerecorded and live, and feature USC Rec Sports trainers leading online workouts that students and faculty can follow along with on their devices. Classes range from yoga to cardio and strength training, or a combination. During the live classes, trainers — often accompanied by a DJ — can interact with users and provide encouragement.
“WORK is more interactive and feels like more of an in-person thing, and I think the people that are participating really liked the workouts,” Munson said.
Online workouts offered by USC emphasize interactivity, enthusiasm
In a traditional year, events put on by Rec Sports have a good student turnout, said David Podschun, a membership sales and service coordinator at USC. Since those events are where a lot of other programming gets advertised, the team had to change its approach after it was announced that the fall semester would be all virtual.
“With the WORK platform, that’s one of the bigger areas of emphasis: trying to get the interactive piece going,” Podschun said. “People are calling each other out by name and you can see other people, so you’re getting a little more interaction than a normal Zoom class or meeting.”
You’re getting a little more interaction than a normal Zoom class or meeting.
The roughly 100 classes offered are available through a premium membership to students, faculty and staff at a discounted rate of $25 per month.
USC Rec Sports offered two weeks of free classes in October and the response was overwhelmingly positive, Munson said, with students enjoying the actual workouts as well as the structure.
“The workout itself was great. I liked the format of it and the variety of exercises we did,” said Monica Cooper, a USC graduate student. “The instructors also had great attitudes and were super motivational and fun, which made the workout even more enjoyable.”
Keeping physical and mental health top of mind
Munson and Podschun agree that there’s nothing like in-person classes, but they know that the times — for better or worse — are virtual, and physical and mental health are at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Part of Rec Sports’ mission is to make students feel like a part of the Trojan Family, whether that’s through classes and events, providing a spot for students to meet and socialize, or now, offering interactive workouts.
“You can tell more about someone by talking to them for two minutes in person than you can from anything online,” Munson said. “That’s where I think we do our biggest work, not just physical health, but mental health because they’re connecting with other students, faculty and staff, and they feel a part of that Trojan Family.”