By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – With many gyms and fitness centers temporarily closed, people may be looking for new ways to stay active during the coronavirus outbreak.
Luckily, there’s a group of Lopers you can learn from.
Equipped with smartphones and everyday household items, University of Nebraska at Kearney students are showing people how to maintain their fitness while they’re stuck at home.
The idea came from exercise science professor Greg Brown, who usually challenges his students to participate in the UNK Fun 5K for extra credit. Since that event was canceled by the ongoing pandemic, and many students are no longer in Kearney as they finish the semester through remote learning, Brown offered an alternative for two of his classes – create home workout videos that can be shared on the UNK Community Wellness Program’s social media channels.
The extra credit assignment gives students an opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world scenario while providing a public service.
Plus, Brown said, it forces many of them to step outside their comfort zone and think creatively about situations they may encounter as future health and fitness professionals.
“In the future, they might be prescribing home exercise programs, and a lot of people don’t have this equipment at home,” he said.
Each video features exercises that can be performed without specialized equipment. For instance, UNK senior Jenna Oberhauser recommends using a jug of laundry detergent if you don’t have weights.
In her video, Oberhauser, an exercise science major with a health sciences minor, leads a total body workout from the living room of the Kearney house she shares with three other UNK students. Sporting black leggings and a UNK Learning Commons T-shirt, the Genoa native walks viewers through a variety of exercises – push-ups, bodyweight squats, lunges, Russian twists – while explaining the specific benefits and identifying the muscle groups she’s targeting.
“This is more than just a workout video,” said Oberhauser, who plans to enroll in a physician assistant program after graduating from UNK in May. “We’re using what we learned in class and putting that out there for the public to see. It’s awesome that it can be shared with others so they can stay physically active while they’re at home.”
“Getting physically active and releasing endorphins is definitely good for people right now,” she added.
Because the workouts are only 10 to 12 minutes long, they can be performed by both regular gymgoers and people with a newfound focus on healthy living.
“Being physically active really can help boost the immune system, which is important with this pandemic,” Brown said.
Hunter Kraus, a UNK sophomore from Taylor, understands firsthand the importance of home workouts right now. The exercise science major and athletic training minor is also a member of the Loper football team.
“Being part of the football team, we’re used to always lifting in gyms and having our workouts given to us,” he said. “With everything going on, we’re unable to even get workouts from our coaches. It’s up to us to keep ourselves in shape so we don’t fall behind.”
Kraus’ workout focuses on core muscles while he offers tips and words of encouragement for those watching on the internet.
“It’s important for us to keep our bodies healthy and stay strong while we’re social distancing,” said Kraus, who called the video assignment a “great experience.”
“This was definitely a fun one,” he said.
Brown is equally pleased with the end result.
“I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the students,” the UNK professor said. “We have amazing students and they’ve done a great job with it.”