Putting the Zoom in Zumba: How gyms are adapting

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 20, 2020 6:23 PM CT | Published: March 19, 2020 7:54 PM CT

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David Quarles IV is a jewelry designer and interior stylist. He’s also a zumba instructor, so at least three days a week he’s teaching classes at places including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (to hospital and ALSAC employees), at Jack Robinson Gallery, mind/body HAUS and Health Sciences Park. 

Quarles began to host Zumba classes online, to be broadcast from his home gym, on Thursday, March 19. He is using Zoom, videoconferencing software that allows participants to see and hear one another. 

“The community my students have created is like no other,” he said. “And because we’ve all become like family and treat each class as a weekly reunion, making sure that we had an option to continue and stay connected was paramount. Too, with all of the anxiety around the unknown of the COVID-19 situation as of now, we all need an outlet for wellness and self-care.”

A number of local workout businesses are turning to the internet, just like Quarles, to give Memphians a needed escape physically and mentally as coronavirus keeps people indoors. 

Zumba is a dance workout. In his classes, Quarles includes music ranging from Brazlilian funk to Afrobeats. 

The response has been so good, Quarles said, that he’ll be adding more classes next week. And people from other states plan to participate in Quarles’ classes.

Recess, a gym located on Flicker Street, moved from in-person classes to completely online classes on Monday, March 16.

The gym had already offered online self-guided and remote programs.

“With the coronavirus outbreak, we saw the urgent need to deliver the gym experience into the homes of our community smoothly and in a way that felt personal,” said instructor Halle B. Meadows. “We even hang out before and after class to connect.”

The Recess classes are also held via Zoom, which means that a coach can give feedback on techniques. 

In addition to the already daily occurring “steel mace flow” class (a mace is a type of club), Recess added a morning “mindfulness and stretching” class daily and an afternoon movement class after the lunch hour. It plans to add meal prep classes. 

Recess is including online programs for those who want to workout individually, a private Facebook group for members to access recorded versions of the daily classes and 20-minute check-in calls to talk about any challenges in transitioning to the social distancing lifestyle. 

Recess owner Brooks Meadows said that they’re making a big push to teach people how to navigate the whole health spectrum as “their habits are getting flipped upside down.”

“Health and wellness is much more than the physical activities that we do,” Halle Meadows said. “Our coaching has always focused on mindfulness both inside and outside the gym. Now more than ever, prioritizing our mental and emotional health is as important as exercise.”

Evergreen Yoga Center has paused classes this week and will begin offering online classes next week, also via Zoom. Owner Leah Nichols said she is excited about it.

“The students will be able to see me, and I will be able to see them, just like an in-person class,” she said. “All of our teachers are trained in a method (Iyengar method, with extensive training) that enables us to watch their form and tailor the instruction for each person — from the basic beginner to the most experienced practitioner.”

Nichols said they are practicing physical distance, but social connection


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Elle Perry

Elle Perry

A native Memphian, Elle Perry has earned graduate degrees from the University of Memphis and Maryland Institute College of Art. She’s written for publications including the Memphis Business Journal, Memphis Flyer and High Ground News, and previously served as coordinator of The Teen Appeal.