Creative Virtual Program Highlights: Instagram Challenges and Fitness at Home

virtual program

Photo courtesy of Angie Yeoh / Shutterstock

Universities are getting creative with virtual offerings. And we want to highlight them! Check out these “Virtual Program Highlights” from Cleveland State University (CSU) and Utah State University (USU).

Instagram Challenges

According to Melissa Albers, the assistant director of fitness and aquatics at CSU, Instagram seems to be the most interactive platform with students right now. This is why her team brainstormed various health and wellness topics, activities, and fun challenges to offer virtually.

Some of the Instagram challenges and activities CSU is offering include:

  • Furry Friends Challenge
  • Unplug for One Hour Challenge
  • What Are You Grateful For Challenge
  • Isolation Nation Virtual 5K
  • Stay-At-Home Wellness Bingo

In some of the above, such at the Furry Friends Challenge, participants are encouraged to share a photo and tag @clestaterec. Other challenges act more as a wellness encouragement and educational opportunity. But both have the same goal.

“These serve as a way for us to connect with [students] and for them to share with us while providing a bit of wellness education,” said Albers. “We do plan to continue these types of challenges indefinitely as we feel they serve as simple, quick and beneficial reminders for every person.”

CSU virtual programming also includes fitness options via Zoom. These include Pink Gloves boxing, F45 Live, group fitness and one-on-one personal training, as well as posting at-home video workouts a few times a week on social media.

While video is a huge part of virtual programming right now, Albers recommended not getting hung up on all of it being perfect. “I think what is so awesome about the live offerings and the videos is that people are just excited to see a familiar face they’d usually see in the rec center, and they are happy to be able to have a chat with them before or after the live class,” she said. “We can still have fun in our virtual live classes and make each other laugh, smile and of course sweat.”

Fitness at Home  

No gym? No problem. This is the goal of USU’s Fitness at Home program, a series of all-level workouts that can be completed anywhere without equipment, and can vary in intensity and duration. Participants can screenshot any workout and complete it on their own from USU’s website, Instagram or follow along with a certified instructor on the USU Campus Rec YouTube channel.

The program is broken up into five categories:

  • Cardio
  • Strength
  • Core
  • Flexibility
  • Meditation

Other offerings through the Fitness at Home program include virtual nutrition coaching, free access to a registered dietitian, virtual personal training and fitness challenges. “Our next steps include creating a step goal challenge, where students will be entered into raffles for free virtual fitness services, like nutrition coaching and personal training, by reaching their daily step goals,” said Daniel Lawrence, the director of Campus Recreation at USU. “We have also implemented challenges where people complete Fitness at Home workouts for a chance to win free virtual services.”

Emmy Richards, the assistant director of fitness and wellness at USU, along with graduate assistant Whitney Petterborg, assisted in the design of Fitness at Home to make sure it is always available and easy to understand so students have few participation barriers.

“With gyms closing, most programs being canceled and many students leaving campus, Fitness at Home gives students a way to stay engaged to campus while providing an outlet for stress and anxiety,” said Richards. “This program also provides a great opportunity for our group fitness instructors and personal trainers to continue to share their passion for fitness and wellness, so it’s a win-win for our program.”

USU’s virtual programming doesn’t stop with Fitness at Home though. Lawrence shared his team is thinking strategically, and currently in the process of creating virtual online programs and services to the entire USU community. “These programs and services will continue to be offered year-round and serve the student population at the 30-statewide USU campuses and online students around the world,” he said. “Currently, USU Campus Recreation serves 18,000 students at the Logan, Utah, campus. By offering virtual programs and services to the entire USU population, we will be able to engage more than 28,000 USU students around the world.”

Brittany Howard
Brittany is an editor at Peake Media. Reach her at

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