For the past three Tuesday evenings, a handful of community members have joined Ron and Barb Fay for a free Community Exercise program at the Town Hall pavilion. The class includes cardio, strength and functional exercises that are suitable for most fitness levels. Participants bring their own yoga or exercise mats and water bottles, and the Fays provide the rest.
With gyms closed this spring and summer, and people spending more time in their homes, the Tuesday through Thursday exercise classes were put on hold.
By now most of us understand the need for washing hands, physically distancing, and wearing masks in public, Ron Fay said. Equally important is keeping healthy so we can fight off infections.
“Being fit by exercising and eating well has never been more important than it is today with the pandemic,” he said. Unfortunately, over the past few months many Americans have gained weight. “For those of us in the fitness business, it’s common sense that we should be in the best shape ever to combat the virus.”
As far as Ron Fay is concerned, exercise is medicine and the best remedy for the pandemic is for people to get moving again. So last month he and Barb got thinking about what they could do to help the community stay healthy. Why not move the class outside? Then people could spread out and breathe fresh air.
“I really like the outdoor class,” said Barb Fay, despite the wind blowing a couple yoga mats across the pavilion floor. “And we really appreciate the Town of Candor allowing us to do our class here. It allows us to provide a fitness class at no cost to participants.”
With that the music’s on and Ron Fay’s leading warm-ups. Everyone windmills their arms, does a set of jumping jacks, then it’s marching in place with knees high. The idea is to get the blood moving before they get into the strength exercises. At one end of the pavilion is a whiteboard with the plan-of-the-day: two groups of exercises, five in each group, finishing up with some planks and cool-down stretches.
Ron Fay demonstrates the first set of five exercises: push-ups, lunges, rows with the bands, spider planks, and vee-ups. Then the timer starts and it’s 40 second of push-ups. The buzzer sounds and he calls out “lunges.” Forty seconds later people get another 10-second break while they get bands ready for rows. They do three sets of that exercise group and take a quick water break. Then it’s onto the next group: pull-up rows, deadlift, donkey kicks, pull-downs, and inchworms.
These exercises are a mix of pushing, pulling, and squatting—the sorts of movements we use in everyday life. “I threw in a couple for the core to round out the workout,” Ron Fay said. While walking is good, and something he and and his wife encourage folks to do, walking by itself isn’t enough.
“You need strong cardio, strong bones, and strong muscles,” said Ron Fay. Using resistance bands helps build strength, and walking is weight-bearing. As for cardio, challenge yourself to walk faster. “Doing cardio in short intervals helps develop your system,” Ron Fay said. You can do something like jumping jacks or butt kicks for 30 seconds and then take a 10 second break. Then do them again, about four or five times. Alternate those with knee-up marching and jump ropes (no rope needed) and maybe punching. Work it into your day at least three times a week, he says.
The Community Exercise class will continue at least through Sept. 8, and the Fays anticipate continuing into October. They’re also planning another Stay Off The Scale (SOTS) community challenge for later in the fall. That challenge integrates nutrition, with an emphasis on cutting added sugars from your diet.
Meanwhile, the Fays are working to get their gym reopened sometime after Labor Day. They have been in contact with the gym members as well as Tioga County Health Department. “We are going to be careful and do it right,” Ron Fay said.