When presented with limited options, people –– especially gym-starved Bobcats –– find creative ways to overcome the danger of becoming a full-time couch potato. 

As many Ohio University classes have adapted, in-person fitness classes have been repurposed into Physical Activity & Wellness courses, or PAW classes. A series of different fitness classes adapted to a virtual setting, PAW classes were originally created during the spring semester of last year, when COVID-19 forced all classes, including fitness, to go virtual. 

With similarities to an in-person fitness class, PAW classes allow students to stay connected and work out virtually, all while completing various assignments and tests given to them by their instructors.  

“Just as in-person courses were conducted, students participated in review of supportive content... and then test their knowledge in weekly quiz assessments and a cumulative final exam,” Annie Machamer, an OU physical activity & wellness coordinator, said in an email. “Students are guided by the course instructor through weekly physical activity assignments to help develop skill/performance in the specific area of Physical Activity & Wellness. The only differing assignments that have been added in the virtual format is a weekly physical activity log to track minutes spent per week being active, as well as a reflection on weekly movement participation and future goals.”

Despite the lack of a physical learning environment, PAW classes incorporate a variety of different subjects, which include yoga, jogging, weight training, exercise & conditioning, and circuit training. With having more time to prepare for virtual classes as compared to the previous spring semester, instructors and students have more structure than before. 

“Last semester during the switch they were not engaging, and the assignments were repetitive,” Connor McKelley, a PAW instructor, said in an email. “This semester they have been better organized and the assignments are good.”

McKelley is a graduate student and is working toward degrees in sports science and coaching. He also currently teaches circuit training and yoga courses. He has been teaching PAW classes for two years. 

Despite the uncertainty that was initially prevalent with PAW classes, students are adjusting and even enjoying the switch to online learning. Even as campus slowly fills back up with students, students feel OU’s dedication to helping their students complete their fitness classes effectively in an online setting remains. 

“I took yoga last semester, it started after spring break when we were sent home,” Kara Lee, a junior studying exercise physiology and psychology, said in a message. “It was my first PAW class, three days a week [and] had 30 students total. I thought it was pretty easy to do all of the exercise at home!”

For more information on PAW courses, visit the website.