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Among the many operational changes community rec centers have had to undergo recently has been making fitness classes compliant to safety and social distancing guidelines. Faced with this same challenge, the Powel Crosley, Jr. YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, took its cycling classes to an unusual spot under normal circumstances: the pool deck.

“With the ever-changing COVID-19 safety guidelines, we decided putting cycling classes outside on the pool deck allowed for greater spacing and safety precautions for our members,” said Kaytlynd Lainhart, the senior program director at the Powel Crosley Y. “If we had kept cycling inside, we would have had to limit class sizes.”

Since the Powel Crosley Y has ample space in its pool area, using the pool deck for cycling classes made the most sense. Despite the drastic change in scenery, members haven’t been deterred from participating.

“So far, we have had full capacity in classes since opening them up,” shared Lainhart. “I have seen many of our members seeming more connected to each other because they have so greatly missed socializing while everything has been closed.”

Following the popularity of the outdoor cycling classes, the Powel Crosley Y is considering moving more of its bikes to the pool deck to accommodate higher participation. To drive more traffic to these classes, Lainhart and her team have been heavily marketing these new-look classes to members.

“We have been utilizing Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to get the word out,” said Lainhart. “We have done Facebook Live videos during classes, and had members help advertise the class in a photo or video. All group exercise classes are featured in our newsletter as well.”

While the classes have been well-received, there are inherent challenges to moving an indoor class to an outdoor pool deck, beyond the threat of varying weather conditions.

“Getting the bikes outside was a little hard,” said Lainhart. “We got brand new bikes this year and I was nervous moving them around so much. We want to keep them in good, quality condition.”

The rewards have far outweighed any risks, however, as the Powel Crosley Y’s cycling classes have been a major boost for program participation.

“Our members have loved the outdoor cycling experience,” shared Lainhart. “They reported feeling more energized and vocal in the outdoor class setting in comparison to their usual indoor experience.”

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Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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