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WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio | Columbus News, Weather & Sports |

Local fitness groups push forward while addressing challenges of COVID-19

Fitness may look different right now but it’s still important to many.

Fitness may look different right now but it’s still important to many.

10TV talked with several fitness groups finding a way to meet during the pandemic.

“Not everybody is interested in going to gyms, not everybody has the money to do those kinds of things and so we provide a space for everybody to show up as they are,” said Satkartar Khalsa, a co-founder and co-leader of November Project Columbus.

The November Project started in Boston as a challenge for friends to get out and get together each week no matter what the conditions.

It was opened up to the public and has spread nationwide, including to right here in Columbus.

Now, the group faces the new challenge of COVID-19.

Before the pandemic struck, anywhere from 50 to 80 people would meet behind COSI for circuit strength training mixed with some running and stairs, Khalsa said.

In the midst of the pandemic, the November Project Columbus continues to meet but on Zoom, in order to hold on to their community.

“One of the reasons that people continue to come back to us is because we are a community and we do uplift each other, even in the hardest times,” Khalsa said.

In some ways, Khalsa explained, utilizing Zoom has opened November Project Columbus up to more opportunities, such as post-workout coffee hour and even discussions about how fitness can contribute to racism and what they could do as a group to move forward.

“The reason I started this group was never solely based around fitness,” Khalsa said.

And there’s more to be said about that, according to Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner for Columbus Public Health, who told 10TV that working out in a group can benefit one’s overall health.

“It’s your support group, you know, Dr. Roberts said. “So, working out in Zoom groups and classes and things like that, I think are very beneficial because you need that support, you need that comradery and you’re getting it in a very safe manner.”

While Dr. Roberts cautions in-person group workouts, some have used the state health guidelines to find a way to come together.

“We want to be together. We want to be physically together,” said Lisa Dillahunt. “We want to be training together and we had to find a way to handle that.”

Dillahunt is a co-founder and running coach for Love2Reach, Columbus Running Company’s charity run and walk program.

At the beginning of the stay-at-home order, Love2Reach (L2R) met on Zoom before heading out for their runs and walks each week, Dillahunt said. Now, Dillahunt explained, the group must RSVP ahead of time.

People are then divided into smaller groups of 10 or less with different start times, running six feet apart and on different trails.

“At the beginning of the announcements we all have masks on,” she said. “As we go out to run, most people take the mask off – they have it available to them if they have to be close to people but you still get to see some people.”

The adjustments have allowed them to maintain their community without compromising safety, Dillahunt explained.

Along with the workouts, L2R has also had to face challenges fundraising, like many charity groups this year, Dillahunt said.

100 percent of the money raised by L2R goes to the charity they serve, she said. In fact, in seven years, the run and walk group has raised over $192,000 for local charities.

This year, the chosen charity is Direction for Youth and Families, but L2R has only been able to raise about a quarter of what they typically would at this point in the season, Dillahunt said.

With most running events now virtual, L2R continues to raise funds and train, taking health updates into consideration for any needed adjustments.

Regardless of the kind of workout, if it can be done safely, Dr. Roberts recommends getting outside in some way.

“I think there’s a lot of benefits for just being outside. I mean, nature is very therapeutic, sunshine is very good for all of us and fresh air is always good,” she said. “So there are many benefits to working out outside that we should all take into consideration right about now.”

To learn more about the L2R charity walk and run group, click here

To learn more about November Project Columbus, click here