In-person workout classes kick back up


Noa Appelbaum

As gyms reopen, students and instructors are gradually shifting from virtual to in person workout classes.

Adrianna Nehme, News Editor

In a candle-lit studio surrounded by motivational phrases, senior Eva Platz Walker rides a stationary bike in sync to music during her SoulCycle class.

After being separated from the tight community of gym enthusiasts due to the coronavirus pandemic, students and instructors are gradually shifting from virtual to in person workout classes.

Eva used to attend classes at SoulCycle about five times a week, but once the pandemic began, she purchased a SoulCycle bike for her house as a replacement. Despite being able to tune into live or prerecorded classes and listen to similar music as she would in a regular SoulCycle class, doing the workout alone separated her from the other SoulCycle riders.

“When you’re in person it feels like you’re part of a community, but when you’re doing it online, you feel like you have to work out,” Eva said. “It’s not like the process of going to the studio, meeting people and changing your shoes in the locker room.”

Kellen Townsend, a senior instructor at SoulCycle, who is originally from St. Louis, teaches eight classes a week on a reduced schedule due to the pandemic. Mr. Townsend appreciates the in person classes as they have introduced him to numerous individuals from different backgrounds. 

“It’s been cool to build a community and get to know people since everybody comes from a different lane in life,” Mr. Townsend said. “It’s just a great way to learn more about different people and cultures and see what Chicago looks like since I’m not from Chicago.”

When the pandemic began, Mr. Townsend stopped teaching for four and a half months but resumed toward the end of the summer. According to Mr. Townsend, he feels safe teaching, despite the ongoing pandemic since SoulCycle changed the way the daily business is run through factors that include continuous disinfection of equipment, an upgraded air filtration system and enforced social distancing.

Similarly, junior Ashley Hannah has been completing workout classes at a gym and has attended hot yoga classes at Ritual Hot Yoga during the pandemic. When going to both, Ashley said her temperature was checked, had to wear a mask at all times and was asked if she had any symptoms suggestive of infection.

Despite the enforced safety guidelines, Ashley said there are frequently members at her gym who don’t comply. 

“Because it’s a gym connected to a college, there are kids who don’t care about COVID-19, and they take off their masks, so I try to stay away from them because that doesn’t make me the most comfortable,” Ashley said.

Ashley also found it difficult to complete the hot yoga class with the enforced safety guidelines as she had to wear a mask in a hot room and didn’t have the instructor in the same room as her, but instead had to listen to instructions on a loudspeaker.

Mr. Townsend, on the other hand, prefers the safety measures because he can continue building a close community and strong relationships with the other SoulCycle riders.

It’s hard for me to work out at home because I feel like if I just stop, nobody’s watching me and stopping me from stopping.”

— Ashley Hannah

“I like that the classes are smaller right now because it lets me know people better, and it allows for a less formal format in the class,” Mr. Townsend said. 

Regardless, Ashley still prefers going in-person because she can build a similar community and feels more motivated when surrounded by others.

“It’s hard for me to work out at home because I feel like if I just stop, nobody’s watching me and stopping me from stopping, but when I go to the gym I have this external pressure,” Ashley said. “It’s kind of this pressure that’s not there, but it’s in my head.”

While Ashley and Kellen have resumed their workout classes in person, Eva continues to do classes at home but plans to return to SoulCycle soon. 

“I can’t wait to see my favorite instructors again and just sign into the studio again,” Eva said. “It’s all the little things that are so exciting.”