After months of waiting, Amanda Sanders was excited to put on her workout gear and take fitness classes at Fort Campbell, even if it means working out in parking lots or outside at Fryar Stadium.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic group exercise classes were closed in March.
“I love everything fitness,” Sanders said as she waited to begin a step aerobics class Oct. 6 behind Estep Physical Fitness Center. “I’m very excited the classes are back.”
Wild’n Out Fitness is the latest offering by Fort Campbell’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation that provides patrons the chance to return to group workouts, including Zumba, Bootcamp and step aerobics, said Sharon Shaw, fitness program specialist for MWR.
The programs are all offered outdoors so participants can spread out in the open air while reducing the chance of possibly spreading COVID-19. Wild‘n Out Fitness began Oct. 3 with a demonstration class in the parking lot at Shaw Physical Fitness Center, Shaw said.
Offerings in October include Bootcamp workouts 9 a.m. Mondays and Fridays at Fryar Stadium; step aerobics 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Estep Physical Fitness Center; and the popular Zumba classes offered 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, 9 a.m. Thursdays, and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays at Shaw PFC, 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Estep PFC.
Classes are $5 and at least four patrons must register in advance for the class to commence, Shaw said.
“We have to have at least four participants to have a class or it will be canceled,” she said.
Inclement weather also will cause classes to be called off. The $5 fee paid in the online registration can be refunded or credited toward another class if that happens, Shaw said. A $40 unlimited package will pay for any class for a month.
Because COVID-19 is still active MWR staff designed programming that could be offered safely outdoors, Shaw said. By spreading out, patrons can remove their masks if they choose to do so.
“We were looking for options to see what we could possibly do,” to offer classes and follow COVID-19 safety protocols, she said.
Participants must be spaced at least 6-feet from all those around them and follow COVID-19 safety precautions, Shaw said. Equipment use will be very limited. Step platforms will be used for aerobic classes and mats can be used for ground exercises, if needed. All equipment will be sanitized after each use. Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes will be available. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own towels, water bottles and exercise mats.
Depending on the class and location, up to about 30 people can register.
Shaw is excited to see fitness classes return and hopes they can be offered into the new year or when COVID-19 conditions change.
“We’ve actually been looking for ways and opportunities to get back to a normal state and this is where we are now,” Shaw said. “Customers are excited we’re starting up again. They are looking forward to it.”
Child care is not offered, but children 13 and older can participate with a parent.
Shaw said she hopes the outdoor classes are the beginning and MWR can continue to move forward in the current environment to keep patrons actively engaged.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, classes usually had about 15 to 25 participants. As of Oct. 6, few have registered for classes, probably because the program started and many people may not know about them, she said.
“It’s going to take time to grow,” Shaw said. “Once we get the information out there that we’re here for them, they will come.”
She said participants can adjust their workout to suit their needs and their abilities.
“They can adjust the intensity,” Shaw said. “They will get what they need out of every class. From beginner to advanced, we’re here to accommodate.”
Step aerobics instructor Etana Millard said she has been working out how to bring the experience outside, learning to use speakers and microphones so participants will be as motivated and energized as in the gym.
“I don’t want [participants] to miss anything and struggle to hear me or the music because music is very important to me when I’m working out,” Millard said.
Although participants might not be able to watch themselves in the mirrors inside the gyms or use weights and balls, workouts have been adjusted to make up for that.
“This is absolutely better than nothing,” Millard said. “I’m excited to get back.”
Sanders, who has lived at Fort Campbell for two years, was a regular at daily fitness classes before the pandemic and is excited some have returned.
“Fresh air is good for the soul, anyway,” Sanders said.
Shaw has her own reasons to celebrate the return of fitness classes at Fort Campbell. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer and exercise was a good, healthy outlet. She’s now in remission.
“It has truly helped me throughout this journey,” Shaw said.
All classes last one hour. Learn more at Campbell.armymwr.com or on the MWR Facebook Wild’n Out event page. For more information, call Shaw at 270-461-2070.