As we have continued to experience the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we began asking ourselves...if we could share "5 Things" that have taken place in the Vista community over the past few months – what would those be? Stay tuned as we share some impactful and insightful things that have occurred throughout this journey so far - we hope that you enjoy the series!
During the current crisis, many have realized that "wellness" is more important than ever. At Vista, it has been no different...as a result, we have worked hard to ensure our students and members have access to a wide variety of wellness-related offerings during this time.
These program offerings are an opportunity for students and members to relax "body and mind" while also working to improve physical health.
For several years, our dormitory-based transition program (the Discover Program), has partnered with local YMCA's to educate students on nutrition and fitness with a curriculum-based program called "Y Be Fit," offering a wide-range of programming options across the year around these topics.
Students participate in a virtual Y Be Fit exercise class
Currently being offered virtually, the "Y Be Fit" program has proven to be a consistent favorite amongst the students who particularly love seeing their YMCA instructors twice a week and being active together. Jordan Shamas, the Discover Program Lead, is thrilled that the students continue to thrive from this instruction... "We couldn't let a pandemic stop us from seeing our favorite trainers! The YMCA has been willing and flexible to work with us and is going above and beyond to help keep our students' routines as consistent as possible during these difficult times. Not only is this beneficial to our students staying active, but it allows them to continue to foster a relationship with our community partners, who they have missed so much!"
The Discover students see multiple benefits from the virtual Y Be Fit classes. One student observes, "We are able to learn and connect with the instructors from the Y...by doing it virtually, they are allowing us to move at our own pace. The exercises vary. We get moving, stretch our legs, arms, back and work on balance. It helps us out with things we struggle with. For me, I struggle with balancing on one leg, but by practicing during Y Be Fit I'm getting better at it." In addition, the Y Be Fit Program, "keeps us active and helps us learn and have new experiences."
In addition to the Y Be Fit program, there are many other wellness offerings occurring throughout the week. Many of the classes that were offered in-person at Vista have been reimagined virtually. "Chair yoga," a flexibility class designed to be accessible to participants of all abilities, has been running as a virtual class for several weeks. Michelle, one of the regular participants, explains, "Chair yoga is a form of exercise that keeps me healthy and allows me to spend time with my peers. It feels good because any worries I have I can let go of and feel relaxed."
Photo of "chair yoga" class at Body Karma Studio in Clinton last year (now being offered virtually)
Program Specialist Linalynn Schmelzer has been teaching several virtual wellness offerings and has enjoyed witnessing first-hand the benefits of these offerings. She describes, "Many of us may not "like" to exercise, but if you turn on music and start moving, then it is "dancing" and dance always brings a smile to people's faces. Since going virtual, it has been impossible to physically interact. However, we still move together when I turn the music on. I have added a Friday Dance Party to my programming and the members really look forward to it. It is a great way to de-stress and start the weekend."
Program Specialist Linalynn Schmelzer (top left) instructing several Vista members during one of her classes
Linalynn believes it is especially valuable to remain active now. "It is so important to keep your health a main priority. Movement is a great way for everyone to work on both their physical health and mental health. We all benefit from finding creative ways to keep moving...adding more movement into our day," she says.