The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left gyms and studios closed and owners wondering when they will be able to reopen their doors. Fortunately, there is a virtual solution for providing everything from fitness to yoga to self-defense classes online, and helping people maintain a healthy body and attitude.

Since March 16, the Hockomock YMCA has offered over 50 classes on YouTube ranging from cardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates and senior fitness. Every morning at 9:15, the Y offers either a Zoom or Facebook Live class in addition to a couple of night live classes.

“I’m really proud of what we’re doing,” said Meredith Walsh, fitness director at the Y’s Invensys Foxboro branch. “Fitness helps you stay healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. Once your mind is engaged and your body is moving, you feel a lot better.”

Walsh also said the classes also offer camaraderie, especially for seniors unable to interact with friends.

“We got thrown into this,” she said. “We’ve always feared this happening and people not coming to the gym or class. We find that people coming to our gym is almost about 75 percent social and 25 percent focused on fitness, which is interesting.”

At the Attleboro YMCA, fitness classes are being offered via Zoom, group fitness instructor/personal trainer Lisa Hooker said.

“It brings a sense of normalcy. From my perspective, seeing those same faces who I haven’t seen in over a month smiling and being able to interact with them has been amazing,” she said.

Attleboro YMCA offers four classes per day on weekdays and offers balance and flex (a yoga/Pilates combination class), family fitness classes, high intensity training, strength training and meditation.

Hooker said she is having fun coming up with workouts and videotaping them for the Y’s fitness page.


Teaching online yoga classes on Facebook Live has been a brand new experience for Firefly Yoga, which has studios in Foxboro and Westwood.

But instructor Tricia Cunniff said “we’ve gotten a lot of great responses out of it, so we’re thinking how we could use it going forward.”

Firefly offers gentle yoga, flow and other classes on a pay-as-you-can basis.

For now, Cunniff is making sure to maintain her own well being while home with a newborn baby, two dogs and a husband. So she tries to make sure one of her first priorities of the day is yoga.

“During this time of crisis,” Cunniff said, “it’s so important to carve out time for yourself and try to maintain some sort of level-headed balance at home.”

Patriot workout

New Hampshire-based Planet Fitness has launched “Home Work-Ins,” a series of free fitness classes for all levels. They are led by different hosts each day with special guests over the last couple of weeks, including New England Patriot receiver Julian Edelman. Workouts are done live on the Planet Fitness Facebook page and are available on its YouTube channel for those who can’t participate live.

Instructor Karen Arabian has been at Answer is Fitness in North Attleboro since 2005 teaching classes seven days a week.

During the COVID-19 quarantine she says, “The struggle to work out at home is tough for all of us. I never thought we would be in this situation.”

So, she has been posting live workouts on the facility’s Facebook page two days a week. “They’re getting strength, cardio and core,” Arabian said.

“I have built strong relationships with my clients,” she said. “We are one big family. Not only am I doing these workout videos for them, but I’m doing this for me as well. They keep me motivated to continue on.”

America’s Best Defense martial arts schools in North Attleboro, Mansfield and Franklin have virtual classes on Mondays and Wednesdays on their Facebook Live page.

And on Fridays they do Sensei Connect to allow instructors to catch up with their students.

“We pride ourselves on being interactive with our families,” instructor Rob Howard said. “It encourages us to keep doing what we’re doing.”

“Fitness is a huge part of what we do,” Howard said. “But I really think it’s the sense of community. It’s more than just kicking and punching. We teach children respect, discipline and integrity. By teaching those things at every single class leaves them with a positive mental attitude.”

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