Be Fit Pitt offers live workout classes on Zoom


Be Fit Pitt instructors lead an Awakening Morning Yoga class in a Zoom webinar last Friday. Zoom Screenshot

By Amanda Zelnis, Staff Writer

Working out and staying active has many physical, mental and emotional benefits. With free daily workouts on Zoom, Be Fit Pitt is taking the hassle out of planning the sweat session.

When Pitt students, faculty and staff were still settling into online classes and work due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in April, Be Fit Pitt began streaming three to four free workouts per day to help keep the Pitt community moving and healthy. Since then, the program has led more than 400 livestream workouts that are open to all students, staff and faculty.

Be Fit Pitt is a wellness programming group powered by the Pitt Healthy Lifestyle Institute that offers a variety of virtual workouts. Class offerings vary from yoga to pilates to full-body workouts. They range from 15 to 45 minutes in length and are offered in the morning, afternoon or evening. Pitt community members can find all of the scheduled virtual classes as well as the registration information on the Pittwire Live Calendar.

Renee Rogers, an associate professor of health and physical activity and the institute’s programming director, said the virtual workout format has allowed Be Fit Pitt to engage more members of the Pitt community.

“With a virtual workout, [participants] can join within five minutes of finishing a Zoom meeting or academic class,” Rogers said. “Additionally, many have reported that our virtual offerings allow for participation in classes that they would not or have never done before because they do not feel comfortable exercising in front of other people.”

Workouts are streamed in a webinar format on Zoom where only the four instructors are visible on the screen, not participants. All instructors are either trained professionals or graduate students at the University. One of the instructors provides the verbal instructions while the other three instructors demonstrate different versions of the exercise for all different skill levels and fitness needs.

Rogers said people often are stuck in a “no pain no gain” mindset, where they think looking perfect during a workout is the only way for their time to count. But, she said having the three instructors showing different intensity levels helps to break down this misconception.

“The goal is to move more and in a way that is safe and makes you feel good, no matter who you choose to follow,” Rogers said.

Jesse Bueno, one of the yoga instructors who teaches virtual classes throughout the week, said he started practicing yoga frequently in his 20s because it gave him a euphoric feeling everytime he left the class. He said yoga, along with all of the other virtual workouts, have many benefits that Pitt students, faculty and staff should take advantage of.

“[The classes] make you more aware of where you are emotionally and physically. Sometimes as humans we run ourselves to the ground. We keep going and going and going until we get sick,” Bueno said. “Yoga is an outlet where we can say to ourselves, ‘OK, I need to rest today’ — take maybe a minute and just let go of the craziness.”

Rogers echoed the sentiment that working out is very beneficial to the daily lives of Pitt community members, especially during COVID-19 times. She said regular exercise can lead to improvements in cognition, academic performance, processing speed, memory and attention, along with a number of other health benefits.

“It is also well established that exercise can help maintain immune function and promote resistance to and reduce risk of infection — all very important right now,” Rogers said. “Lastly, periods of activity can have mood-enhancing and stress-relieving effects along with promoting emotional well-being.”

Be Fit Pitt also allows participants to sign up to have their virtual workout frequency tracked. A leaderboard is posted at the beginning and end of each week showing who is at the top of the competition. Andrea Johnson, an administrative assistant in the School of Social Work, said she is working toward becoming the top of the leaderboard.

Johnson said she has participated in approximately 148 virtual classes to date, making her a well-seasoned veteran in the Be Fit Pitt virtual workout class realm.

“Dr. Rogers and her fitness crew have put together well-planned out and very engaging classes,” Johnson said. “My goal is to be No. 1 on the leaderboard, and you should try too!”