Students unwind with Zoom Pilates class amid pandemic stress

Written By Logan Garvey

Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a club well-known on campus for bringing positivity to women of all ages. Through the pandemic, many events have brought stress for people on a global scale. On Friday, SWSG invited students to participate in a Zoom pilates event to create mindfulness and act as a mental health check amid the stressful uncertainty of 2020. 

“With COVID and everything with classes and it being really stressful at the beginning of each semester, we wanted to have something that people could go to and sort of let out their energy, destress a little bit, and have a little bit of a smoother semester afterward,” said Serena Daywalt, a senior psychology major who acts as the Events and Lead Advocate Coordinator for SWSG. 

The event was held on September 25 from 7 to 8 p.m. on Zoom and was available to all Point Park students. Sophomore dance major Emily Spencer led the event as the pilates instructor for the evening. She said she was excited to interact with new faces from around campus to show them the difference between pilates and yoga.

“Pilates has more upbeat music and you have more static breathing than deep breathing,”  Spencer said. “Yoga is very relaxing where pilates is more like a workout, but last night during class I kind of did a little combo of some yoga and then we did some exercises. My roommate wanted to do Shavasana, which is where you relax at the end, so I did a little meditation.”

The event allowed students to blow off steam from the beginning of the new semester. With all of the new changes being made during the pandemic, freshman psychology major and SWSG mentor Marley Parker was happy to be given the opportunity to get back a sense of normalcy, even if just for an hour.

“I personally don’t feel comfortable exercising in a gym, or studio. I’m trying to do my part in stopping the spread of COVID by staying in my room as much as possible, wearing a mask everywhere, social distancing if I’m sitting with more than one person trying to eat outside,” said Parker. “But, I also want to try and have as much normalcy as possible. Events like this make life feel kind of normal. I miss working out with a live instructor and other people, so this event was something I knew I wanted to do. Not only to support SWSG but to also participate in some normal campus activities.”

With more things moving online, it can be difficult to exercise, especially with gyms being closed for a long time in previous months. Junior sports, arts, entertainment, and management (SAEM) major Maryann Mandic hopes to see more university events offering online options. 

“I would love for another pilates event to happen or any other Zoom event,” Mandic said. “It gives us a chance to still do things we would normally do if there was not a pandemic.”

Due to University, State, and CDC guidelines, Student Activities, Involvement, and Leadership (SAIL) sent out an email to student leaders listing the new normal for how events should be held. The email created new guidelines including that everyone is required to wear masks, food is not allowed to be served unless it is prepackaged, and encouraged that events are made as virtual as possible. Senior education major and chapter director Kasey Newman feels that it can be difficult to engage everyone in online events, but that it is important to go with the flow and have good communication throughout. 

“As someone who is on both sides, I definitely know there is a difference between hosting and participating in a virtual meeting. They are two different experiences that I am grateful to have. It has helped me to build sympathy and empathy for my professors,” Newman said. “It can be hard if you can’t see the other people to tell if they are engaged or not.”

Despite there being difficult changes, SWSG members feel the club is handling the adjustments well and is thriving. 

“I want to see SWSG thrive as much as possible. This semester is definitely a challenge, but we are hitting it head-on,” Daywalt said. “We are working with it as best as we can, we are adapting, and I want to see us fully adapt and still have our usual community, fun, engaging experience even though we aren’t all together.”

Members of the club have used this time of new changes and flipped it to become a positive outcome, and Newman said she cannot thank everyone enough for all that they have done so far this semester.

“The shining moments I can’t take credit for, I give it off to the people who make it happen. I can’t be any prouder of them. There’s been a lot of shining moments in SWSG but they’ve all been from my executive board. I don’t know if I have told them enough how proud of them that I am for what they have done in these four weeks,” Newman said. “I can’t be any happier with how things are turning out right now for SWSG. With everything going on, I can’t ask for much more. The new members have this light in them that is amazing. They all want to empower women and mentor girls. I’m really proud.”