At Kent State University, a partnership between Kent State Recreational Services and Human Resources’ Employee Wellness started several years ago as part of the Kent State Wellness Initiative to encourage and provide more fitness and wellness offerings for employees.
So when all fitness programs were forced to go virtual because of COVID-19, and departments worked to engage students and the community, Kent State did not leave faculty and staff programming behind. “Academically, students are always the main priority for educational institutions, but we can never forget that without healthy, happy faculty and staff, we can’t provide the quality services Kent State is known for,” said Beth Michel, the fitness and wellness coordinator at Kent State.
Typically, when the rec center is open, Recreational Services provides four free lunchtime classes per week consisting of two strength and cardio, one yoga and one spin class. Additionally, Recreation offers “Free Fridays,” allowing employees free access to the rec center as well as any group fitness classes offered on Friday, all without a membership.
“We also collaborate with Employee Wellness for other special events each semester such as ‘Rec & Play’ days once a semester, ‘National Get Fit Don’t Sit’ day, our upcoming ‘Longest Day’ event, and numerous other wellness fairs, workshops and/or Lunch and Learns,” said Michel.
But since being unable to offer in-person classes and events, Recreation started offering lunchtime classes virtually through Zoom, asking participants to pre-register for each class. In its third week, virtual class registration is open for up to 100 participants and has been averaging between 70 and 90 attendees.
“The feedback is always very positive, especially with us continuing to offer as many options as we can during this time,” said Michel. “The employees are always so appreciative of the hard work and care Rec Services and Employee Wellness put into their health and well-being.”
Michel expressed during this time, it’s even more important to not forget about the employees who are supporting students, especially when many are finding new ways to balance work and personal time, learning how to use new technology and worrying about what the future of higher education will look like, among many other personal stressors. “Our collaborative team has to keep finding ways for our employees to stay positive, stay active and manage stress as much as possible,” she said.
Photos from Rec & Play Day and the Longest Day event on campus