IMHO: Online exercise options provide stress relief from virus

  • Amy Bray, of Hanover, takes time out of her first day of working remotely as a patent attorney for Adimab for a workout in the parking lot of Wellspring Worship Center in West Lebanon, N.H., Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Bray’s kids, Virginia, 9, middle, and Charlie, 5, right, are home from the Ray School during the closure due to COVID-19 and came along for a bike and scooter ride. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Greg Fennell. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 3/21/2020 8:04:26 PM
Modified: 3/21/2020 8:04:24 PM

You think you’re going stir crazy? Try being someone who needs activity as routine.

Ever since I took this job, I’ve insisted to my superiors that my mornings are untouchable. I require time to go to the gym and put in a shift — one or two hours of aerobic activity, weightlifting, hitting a heavy bag, stretching, running in the pool or any combination of the bunch. It’s as much a physical need as a mental health requirement. My bosses have uniformly been good about it.

But now the gym is closed. The missus is home from her job. We’re staring at each other cross-eyed trying to find things to do. We’re both being encouraged to work away from the office as much as possible, all because of a virus no one can see and some of us may never encounter.

It’s more than a little stressful.

“My stress level is probably medium,” Joanna Graber confessed last week. “I love my job. I exercise in four or five classes a week. It’s socializing. Exercise, in anything you’re doing, is a stress reliever. It makes you feel good, and it restricts you from anything that’s going on. But I don’t have that right now.”

As the group fitness coordinator of Lebanon’s Carter Community Building Association, Graber’s life revolves around getting people moving. That goes for CCBA fitness class clients as well as her family.

She and others in the Upper Valley exercise world have had to get creative. And the conduit appears to be at your fingertips.

“It’s always online,” Graber said. “You can type in ‘exercise routine,’ ‘tabata,’ ‘kickboxing,’ ‘exercises for arms.’ These can be body-weight exercises. We’ve been running this staff-member fitness challenge; we’re in week seven (of eight). I send out weekly emails and had a new one this morning: Go for a walk, go bike riding, kick a ball, do some stretches. …

“We still have to keep moving because, one, you’ll feel better when you exercise; two, you’ll feel terrible if you don’t exercise; and three, you’ll get feel-good endorphins that pump into your body from your brain that make us feel better. … You feel good and stop worrying about what’s going on.”

Kati Lary Jopek frequently employs social media in her job as Mascoma Valley Parks and Recreation’s regional coordinator. She’s been busy locating online workout opportunities — beginning with yoga classes and a free option offered by a national workout chain — and posting them on the department’s Facebook page.

“It kind of got started when I read an interesting article on the National Recreation and Parks Association website,” she explained. “It just had really great advice for recreation professionals on how they can help their communities during this time, to focus on health and well-being. I took that as an opportunity to use social media platforms … to do research and share links for at-home classes that could be done.”

One of Lary Jopek’s first finds helped address the cancellation of a popular three-days-a-week chair yoga class that had been drawing 20-25 seniors every session.

“We wanted to offer some links and ways to continue at-home practice,” she said. “Yoga was the first thing we’d try to offer and share information about.”

Where Lary Jopek went to the internet to find help, Ken Bladyka followed the same route to provide it.

Bladyka has run his Okinawan Karate Academy in Lebanon for 25 years, and none of them have been like the current one. When an industry group to which he belongs suggested putting lessons online, Bladyka and his three assistants got to work.

Bladyka oversees roughly 300 students, split 80%-20% between children and adults. With his facility closed during the outbreak, OKA has gone from being a martial arts gym to a video studio.

“It’s a very steep and rapid learning curve,” Bladyka confessed in a phone interview. “I do have three team members, and collectively the four of us really have been able to put it together. Both of my lead instructors are performers — one’s an actor and one’s a musician — so they’re really good in front a camera and are great karate teachers.

“One is editing video. One is doing a lot of tech setup with remote mics and a mixer. I bought a webcam; we rapidly collected the equipment for it. We decided to use Zoom (a free web conferencing site) and a lot of YouTube, and we’re doing both live-streaming and prerecorded training videos.”

The goal, Bladyka said, is to enable his students to not only stay physically active but to also continue their martial arts advancement.

“We plan to support our students to keep two- or three-times-a-week routines and have parents document this and continue with advancement when it comes time for their technical reviews,” Bladyka said. “They will be able to submit videos and continue to advance in their karate, not just tread water but keep the process moving forward.”

The snow is almost gone. The temperatures are slowly getting warmer. The kids are home. The options are out there, and they’re plentiful. Get moving together.

I can’t stress getting de-stressed enough.

“Any movement,” Graber said, “is going to make you feel better than just sitting around.”

Greg Fennell can be reached, when he gets off his treadmill, at or 603-727-3226.

Sign up for our free email updates
Valley News Daily Headlines
Valley News Contests and Promotions
Valley News Extra Time
Valley News Breaking News

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy