Reflections from the Fitness Center

By Stephanie McShurley, Group Fitness Director, March 2021

“March 12, 2020, 8:15pm: APJCC program participant has been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19). The Levy Family Campus is closed, effective immediately.”

These were the words on the signs that covered the shuttered doors of the Levy Family Campus, beginning late on the evening on March 12, 2020. The bustling sounds of the community that typically filled the hallways, were abruptly replaced with an eerie and uncertain silence. Activities and services for most were forced to come to a standstill, as the APJCC, along with the rest of the world, tried to make sense of the unprecedented circumstances. While the year ahead would be filled with unbelievable challenges and loss, there was also beauty and triumph as we all found new and creative ways to adapt and still cultivate fitness, family, and community.

Group Fitness was the first APJCC program to pivot to a virtual platform, hosting its very first Zoom class only a few days after closing! The next month was spent tirelessly working to get 40 weekly classes up and running. This was no small feat, as both instructors and members alike had to learn new technology, and adapt to working out at home with household items. For months these classes were offered at no charge and were open to the entire community. Members and non-members alike came together over Zoom for fitness, and for at least an hour of their day, also found a sense of normalcy and connection. As we’ve come to learn, the value of these classes goes well beyond fitness.

While some of us were immersed in Zoom, others were hard at work preparing the campus to reopen, in anticipation of receiving the go-ahead from the county. New safety protocols were put into place, as well as a new reservation system. In June, we were finally permitted to reopen our swimming pool! Capacities were limited, of course, but it was such a lift to the spirits to be able to see APJCC members in person, even with social distancing. In July more programs for the whole family were added, such as swim team, swim lessons, and family swim. Of course we had to get the Aqua Fit classes back as soon as we were able to gather in small, socially distant groups. The pool was a great safe way to get the community slowly back to the APJCC.

We also began the work of designing an outdoor fitness center on our tennis courts, moving equipment outside and setting up protocols with member and staff safety at the forefront of all decisions. Now, on any given day you can see our members working out on their favorite machine, going through a personal training session, playing tennis, or taking a socially distant outdoor group fitness or Pilates reformer class. It has been a rollercoaster ride for staff and members, having to adapt to changing state and county regulations, as well as weather conditions like extreme heat, fire, smoke, as well as heavy rain, wind, and cold temperatures.

While we continue to face the challenges ahead, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. How fortunate are we to have such ample outdoor space to utilize, unlike many gyms? How lucky are we to live in this age of technology that allows us to connect safely virtually? We are beyond grateful for every single one of our instructors, trainers, lifeguards, and member support staff that have worked the front lines and ensured that our members have had a safe and welcoming experience through it all.

And above all, we are grateful for you, our community, for your continued support. Your countless testimonials and donations over the past year have not only helped keep the lights on, but continued to motivate us. More than ever, we have all come to appreciate how important this community is for both our physical and mental wellbeing. In that spirit, we hope you’ll join us as we celebrate our resilience for all we have overcome, and show gratitude for what we still have, with a Zoom Zumba Anniversary Extravaganza (Register to join here)! This class will take place on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 5:30pm., which is exactly one year to the date of our very first Zoom fitness class! It’s free and open to the public. We hope to see you there as we celebrate the collective power of fitness, family and community!