Schools are attempting to reopen, which means Group X classes will resume soon. This is causing many recreation leaders to brainstorm how to best create Group X schedules to accommodate everyone, while also not knowing what is going to happen next. Below, two fitness leaders share how their team is tackling the challenges of making schedules, training instructors and enforcing face coverings.
At the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNC Charlotte), Tori Lord, the assistant director for fitness, shared her state is in Phase 2 of reopening where gyms are still closed. In regards to scheduling, she said she can see it going one of two ways:
“Due to uncertainty and the restricted number of individuals who will be allowed in a studio at a time, I plan on over-scheduling the number of classes, especially classes that are used to seeing 50 to 60 people before COVID,” said Lord. “I am informing my instructors not to fall in love with their schedule because we may realize less people are using the facility than anticipated and will need to cut back on the number of classes.”
Additionally, Lord plans to choose two to three in-person classes to be livestreamed daily, and she hopes to offer outdoor pop-up classes, weather permitting. “With our restrictions of individuals in studios and outdoors, we will be moving to a reservation system in order to avoid crowds on a first come, first serve basis,” she said.
At Appalachian State University, Gabby Dickey, the assistant director for Fitness and Wellness, shared her team is making Group X schedules week by week. She said the decision to go from a semester build-out to weekly scheduling came from necessity. “Necessity to protect our limited resources as we realized we would need to continuously alter the schedule due to state and institutional changes, and the necessity to set realistic expectations for our staff so they could make informed decisions that are best for them,” said Dickey.
Advancing through the semester, her team is using their normal schedule as a map to slowly add where and when they can, reasonably and safely. Her main advice when deciding to schedule weekly is to lower expectations across the board.
“As someone who likes details worked out in advance to execution, that’s simply not possible given the rapid changing climate we face,” she said. “I’ve had to lower expectations across the board from training, number of classes offered, types of classes and spaces. I’m learning to make peace with simply being done, as opposed to done well to my standards.”
Currently at UNC Charlotte, instructor training for the fall will be conducted in-person with each workout separated into two studios for practice and to see how social distancing in classes will look.
One concern for instructor training is having enough instructors and subs trained in case a regular instructor drops a class or feels uncomfortable teaching. “As far as instructors dropping classes, we will look to find subs first, but due to using a reservation process, I will be able to cancel classes if needed — but that will always be a last resort,” said Lord. “I do whatever is necessary to make sure classes go on as scheduled.”
Dickey shared her team decided not to host or even just postpone instructor recruitment and training this semester. “We are lucky enough instructors haven’t dropped a class, and since we are now slowly looking to add classes, we have a pool of instructors waiting to teach,” she said. “That is unfortunately the difficult part for us — having instructors simply waiting to be placed on the schedule.”
At UNC Charlotte, masks will be required when coming into the studio, exiting and when approaching the instructor to talk. Once the patron is in their designated area, they will be allowed to take off their mask if they choose.
“The instructor and assistants will be there to handle getting out equipment so as to alleviate patrons walking around the room,” said Lord. “Once the instructor is ready to start class, they may also take their mask off; however, there will be no moving around the patrons and the instructor will be expected to stay in the front of the room.”
At Appalachian State, the rec team is only allowed to program outdoor spaces for Group X and is not requiring face coverings for participants and instructors at this time. However, Dickey said they do support anyone, whether instructor or participant, who would like to wear a face covering at any of their events.
Overall, both Lord and Dickey shared advice they said campus recreation teams have been hearing all year: keep your head up and be flexible.
“If you’re an individual who has ever been told you complete tasks with excellence or have high standards, definitely lower your standards,” said Dickey. “This isn’t what we signed up for and surviving this time without losing ourselves is an accomplishment I believe we’ll look back on with greater pride once it passes. If you need to fall apart, do it knowing you’re down but not out.”