CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 3, 2020) – Jess Kotleski’s words of encouragement for the audience of her livestreamed fitness class here April 2 took on a wider meaning in the context of COVID-19.
“Everyone, you’ve got to be resilient,” Kotleski called out as she began her surprise challenge at the end of the workout. “Life does not hand you roses all the time. Build resiliency! How are you going to react? It’s your mindset: positive.”
Kotleski’s “No Bore, Core and More” class was part of a series of livestreamed fitness classes that Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison Japan, began March 29 after officials had to cancel all in-person classes in response to the virus, said Stefan Thompson, chief of fitness, athletics and aquatics for Camp Zama FMWR.
The first three classes included “Functional Fitness” with Athena Wheeler; “Fit Tabata” with Yuko Palmer; and “Cardio Dance” with Rodney Holloway, Thompson said, and the response was so positive that organizers decided to offer more.
The reaction to Kotleski’s class was overwhelmingly positive as well, with more than 50 comments and 1,500 views. Commenters noted they were tuning in from as far away as Key West, Florida, and Toronto.
Kotleski said she offered to give the class because she thinks the initiative is a great idea.
“I’m so happy that they’re doing this,” Kotleski said. “This is huge. People are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and this gives people hope.”
It is important for people to maintain their health when they are stuck at home, Kotleski said.
“‘Stay at home, stay healthy,’ and you have to have your health,” Kotleski said. “Health is number one. This is not just for your body, but for your mind, and it brings the family together.”
In fact, three members of Kotleski’s audience included her husband and two children at home.
“They’re going to follow along, so this is their [physical training] for today,” Kotleski said.
Kotleski normally offers spin classes on Wednesdays at the Yano Fitness Center, but because most people do not have spin bikes at home, she decided to offer a class that focused on improving core strength.
Thompson said he came up with the idea for the classes after his wife started doing a Zumba video at home with a former instructor and he realized the FMWR program could follow suit.
Soon, the classes became part of a long list of initiatives FMWR’s “Community Immunity Team” began offering. The list includes, but isn’t limited to, a livestreamed Story Time; golf lessons with Dale Jorgenson; the opening up of the (now-closed) golf course for socially distanced walkers; a Story Walk with the book “Corduroy” by Don Freeman posted on the John O. Arnn Elementary School fence; and “Zama’s Got Talent—Online.”
Marenzo Domingo, marketing manager for Camp Zama FMWR, used his phone to livestream Kotleski’s class and said the Community Immunity Team is doing everything they can to enliven the spirits of those who might feel cooped up at home.
The idea is to help people build their mind, body and spirit, Domingo said.
Rick Bosch, director of Camp Zama FMWR, said the organization always wants to offer as many activities to the community as possible, and he is proud of the team’s accomplishments.
“This is a very creative, amazing team,” Bosch said.
In regard to the fitness classes, Thompson said he has a schedule mapped out for the entire month, with classes scheduled April 6, 11, 16, 20, 25 and 30. Offerings also include the daily “Fitness with Athena” posts.