FULTON — For those who are finding it challenging to maintain their fitness during the winter months and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fulton Public Library is offering one free and easy way to get moving.
Family Fitness video workouts are available virtually on the library’s Facebook page, and some have been uploaded to YouTube.
The workouts are free, require no special equipment, and can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels.
Oswego resident Susan Mayer, a fitness instructor who leads tai chi classes at the Fulton Family YMCA, records the workout videos at the Fulton Public Library.
“I was doing children’s dance and tai chi classes at the library, and then COVID happened,” said Mayer, 50. “The library had to close. Caroline (Chatterton, the library director) reached out to me and said ‘Let’s do them via Zoom.”
“The transition from in-person classes to virtual was a natural progression since everything was going virtual,” Chatterton said. “Ever since then we have been adding on different classes and keeping a variety for the viewers.”
For a while, people could watch and join the workouts live. Now, the workouts are recorded and uploaded to the library’s Facebook page and YouTube.
Mayer stops by the library each month to record four workouts.
“We film a month’s worth of classes and they air weekly,” she said. “You could go back and access them.”
The workouts are important for a couple of reasons. First, they give people a chance, right in their own homes, to get moving and exercise safely. Second, Mayer and Chatterton agree that filming them at the library reminds viewers that the library is still there for them, able to assist and provide a variety of services.
Mayer said Chatterton told her, “It’s very important that people know the library is still here. They’re going to see you and know that we’re still there for them.”
Bringing a smile and a wealth of knowledge to each workout, Mayer motivates viewers to get on their feet and join in the fun.
“I get out there on camera and I’m giving a positive message, telling people ‘you’re going to be OK.’ This is something you can do for yourself and with your family,” she said. “It’s more than just fitness. I know that families need activities that are low cost, or no cost, and ways to socialize.”
Mayer has a master’s degree in counseling services and works as a service provider in Oswego County. She said her messages during the workout videos offer encouragement, comfort, and support.
“That’s how I’ve always approached fitness, that it’s not just physical exercise. We need this in order to feel strong and confident and for our well-being. It very much helps the whole person,” she said.
The workouts last 15 to 20 minutes and range from walking to pilates to kick boxing and more. Activities are done to music.
“We had to find music that was not copyrighted because the event was recorded and we were posting,” she said.
One recent workout was a “Winter Walk.” Mayer appears in front of library books and proceeds with the story of the day — walking, marching, and stretching for about 20 minutes. She varies the routine to keep the viewers’ interest.
“If you walk with me for 15 minutes, that’s one mile,” Mayer said. “You can watch it again and go two miles.”
During the summer, she led viewers in “Beach Ball Pilates” and then “Pumpkin Pilates” in the fall (using a plastic pumpkin filled with fruit or candy, anything that provides a little bit of resistance).
Another workout included “souper” strength training, done while holding 15-ounce soup or vegetable cans. “After 20 minutes of doing exercises with soup cans, I was getting sore. I would have to put down my cans and take a little rest,” she said. “Even though it seems like you’re only exercising with one-pound weights with things you have around your house, it makes a difference.”
At Christmas time, she led the group through a “Jingle Bell Jam” dance.
The workouts can also help viewers whose mobility is limited.
“I have a chair behind me and I try to give a seated option (such as tai chair, seated pilates) for all the exercises,” Mayer said. “It can also help if you want some ideas to do at your desk.”
Feedback has been positive, she said.
“I have viewers. I’ve had children as young as 2 and my oldest student is 89. People have tuned in with their children. It’s been positive. Someone came up to me in the store and said, ‘You’re a lot of fun.’”
Chatterton noted that one library patron had recently had surgery done and she let them know that the class was a great way to get her moving again.
Mayer said she once considered becoming a librarian because of her love of the library. Her chatter during the workouts includes reminders to read and take advantage of the many resources and services available through the Fulton Public Library. She praised Chatterton for all she has done to keep families connected to the library, including the workout videos.
The key to each workout video is simply to get up off the couch and get moving.
“I start every class telling viewers to put on their sneakers and stand up. You want to get up and move the body,” Mayer said. “All tai chi is very much into loosening up the joints and mobility, flexibility, and balance. The message of tai chi is achieving balance, that’s physical and emotional.”
Chatterton said the video workouts will probably continue indefinitely even after the library reopens to benefit those that are homebound or who have mobility or transportation issues.
Everyone can benefit from them, and Mayer is the ideal person to lead them.
“She definitely has a very sunny disposition that lends itself to doing these workout videos,” Chatterton said. “She puts a smile on my face.”