Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the need for safety precautions such as face coverings, limited group gatherings and social distancing to be put in place both on and off post.
Because of that, several fitness and recreational activities had to cancel in-person gatherings for several months, but, as time has gone on, several organizations have found ways to resume activities while abiding by the restrictions.
Youth camps While most of the annual camps sponsored by Child and Youth Services’ Youth Sports and Fitness Program were unable to continue because of the inability to social distance, Patrick Shelton, CYS Youth Sports and Fitness director, said two have been able to resume. “Two camps were all that were approved,” Shelton said. “Rather than have nothing, it’s something.”
The Summer Youth Baseball Camps, for ages 5-14, were July 20-23 and July 27-30 at Doniphan Field.
During the camps, face coverings were required by all participants, parents and staff, and participants were encouraged to bring their own water bottles and necessary equipment, Shelton said.
The next camps are the 2020 Fitness Camps for ages 5-14 Aug. 24-27 and Aug. 31 through Sept. 3 at Normandy Field. Age groups will be split up into 5-8 years old from 9-10 a.m.; 9-10 years old from 10:30-11:30 a.m.; and 11-14 years old from noon to 1 p.m.
“Fitness, there is less touching equipment, and there is less risk there as well because we can distance a little bit more with that,” Shelton said. “They need this. It’s important for a body to be able to grow and do healthy things and get active.”
Water aerobics Water aerobics is the first class that has started back up since Gruber Fitness Center and Harney Sports Complex reopened in June.
The class, which is from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Harney Pool, re-started Aug. 10.
“I put a request in to the Garrison about seven weeks ago and just laid out that we’re in chlorine, so it kills germs, and we can separate in the class,” said Julie Keller, water aerobics instructor. “Plus, everything that we use goes right into the chlorine and is sanitized almost immediately.”
The class is limited to 13 people on a first-come, first-served basis, and includes weight training, sidesteps and more.
“Hopefully, this opens the doors for some of the other classes to get started, too,” Keller said. “I hope that the gym can go back to normal functioning times, and then all the instructors that work different jobs and have different classes can go back.
“I missed not only the exercise, but just being with these people,” she said. “It’s a mental health thing. …We got so involved in each other’s personal lives that we miss seeing each other and seeing how people are doing.”
Class participant Janna Ross said she’s glad the class is available again.
“It’s perfect for stress relief, and it’s perfect for connecting,” Ross said. “It gives us everything we need right now to defend ourselves against COVID-19, like giving us our opportunity to connect with people, connect with our body and just stay strong in a positive environment.
“I’m only here because it feels safe. I trust everything they do here because they do it to the highest standards,” she said. “I have complete confidence in how everybody is (following the safety guidelines) with integrity.”
Stroller Strong Moms Leavenworth, also known as Sweat Like A Mother, started meeting up again in early July, limiting classes to 12 moms with no children. Now, up to 20 moms can join the classes, and their children can join as long as they stay near their moms and everyone remains six feet apart, said Jessica Hamel, SLAM Leavenworth manager.
“For all of us, this is part of our routine. The social aspect and exercise is important,” Hamel said. “It can’t combat mental health disorders, but it certainly can help in the isolation. “The moms that are part of our group don’t like to be isolated, so being together even though we’re separate became a strong saying,” she said. “We don’t mind being separate if we’re together.”
Julie Dempsey, wife of School of Advanced Military Studies student Lt. Col. Chris Dempsey, and mom of three, agreed that the program helps with mental health.
“It’s great for me personally to get out of the house,” Dempsey said. “Quarantining, you’re in your house, you’re in your four walls, and it’s depressing. … This has improved my mental health a ton.”
Audrey Ayers, wife of SAMS student Lt. Col. Chuck Ayers, and mom of four, said getting together as a group has multiple benefits.
“I can do the workout online and from home, but I will not do the hard part,” Ayers said. “Being in-person holds you accountable for the workout.
“And, by (Dempsey and I) being with our husbands having so much time in (the military), we’re just able to build up and encourage people and give back to the younger spouses,” she said. “I went through 9-11 with my husband in the military, so I remember what it’s like to be a young spouse and have something world-changing happening. … This is my time to come back with some younger spouses with little ones and just say, ‘It’s going to be OK. You’re not alone. We can do this. You’re going to make it.’”