FMWR promotes wellness with regular virtual classes

Diana Martinez, Family and MWR Recreation Branch manager, has begun a new fitness presence on social media along with fellow instructors Nikisha Charity and Natasha Saunders as a way to stay connected with those who desire to continue their exercise programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Installation fitness facilities have been closed since March when COVID-19 safeguards were implemented, but online offerings have sprung up since then, serving as a viable option for those wishing to continue their wellness regimens.

Fort Lee Family and MWR, for instance, is presenting several of the same classes it offered at its fitness centers prior to the pandemic, and it’s using Instagram and other social media platforms to make them accessible, according to Recreation Branch Manager Diana Martinez.

“As a result of the coronavirus, FMWR had to take a pause and determine how we could still reach our community,” she said. “We decided to stream some of our classes, which has really worked out quite well.”

By that, she means it has secondarily served as a morale boost to community members who are spending more time than usual in their dwellings to minimize the spread of the virus.

The first FMWR fitness class was streamed April 10. Martinez, using a makeshift home studio, livestreamed a 30-minute yoga session on Instagram, a platform that features a cross section of followers and the ability to interact with viewers live.

“It was interesting,” she said of the video, noting the challenges of setting up lights, a camera and backdrops for the class. “It is a great medium ... It’s so sweet to hear from people during the class – they’re happy to be there. They’re waving and saying, ‘Hi, it’s a great class.’ So, it’s rewarding to see all the effort paid off.”

The initial project has been influential. In addition to Martinez’s yoga session, a Zumba class taught by fellow instructor Nikisha Charity has started to build a following. Each is scheduled for 5:15 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays, respectively.

The first circuit training class – taught by Natasha Saunders – is scheduled for Friday at 5:15 p.m., also on Instagram.

Once the yoga and circuit training programs air on Instagram, they are uploaded to FMWR’s Facebook page, Martinez noted. Some also are considered for upload to a recently created YouTube channel.

Prior to the interruption of COVID-19, Martinez and several other instructors led 70-plus fitness classes per month at the installation’s various fitness facilities. Although it is difficult to compare the efficacy of her online presence with regular classes, Martinez said her social media appearances have garnered much interest with the potential to attract more participants.

“Yesterday, I learned I had 1,200 hits on one of the yoga classes. I said to myself, ‘People are paying attention and people are watching,’” she said. “That’s the greatest compliment I can have. If we can have the same participation for the Zumba class and others; that would be great.”

So “great” that there are no plans to abandon her social media shows when the installation returns to business as normal, Martinez acknowledged.

“I would like to keep things open because it provides another option for people,” she said. “When we return to (regular work routines), some may have to change their schedule, so I want to be able to still reach people who can’t come to class.”

Martinez has provided fitness instruction at Fort Lee for the past 23 years.

Some of the FMWR fitness classes may be accessed through the FMWR Facebook page at The Instagram address is@fortleefitness. YouTube viewers can subscribe at Fort Lee FMWR Fitness.

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