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Covid Is Making A Comeback. Is Fitness By Zoom Coming Back?

September 02, 2023 4 min read 3 Comments

Covid Is Making A Comeback. Is Fitness By Zoom Coming Back?

The Auntibodies on Zoom, sisters from top left to bottom right: Debbie, Linda, Susie, and Chris. (picture of 'Jareldo' at the end of the story).


*Tips for Zoom class.

*Why their instructor is good at this.

*The technology is manageable.


By Ray Glier

Is Zoom’s business partner, the virus known as Covid, getting back in the game?

You have seen the Wall Street dread about Zoom’s value, which has ebbed. But as Covid cases spike does it mean more fitness classes are coming to a computer/TV screen near you?

Most gyms likely won’t close, but people might decide on their own to sweat in their homes, instead of the gym. It’s all personal choice—to Zoom or not to Zoom.

One group never quit the Zoom hookup for fitness, even when the gyms re-opened.

They call themselves Jareldo and the Auntibodies. And we can learn from them if Covid revs up and turns off some lights and locks some gym doors, and disrupts the fitness routine of millions, not just older people.

Jared Keisling, 37, is a fitness trainer in Phoenixville, Pa. In April 2020, when Covid tightened its grip, he started leading classes with his mom, Chris Keisling, 67, and her three sisters, Susie, 81, who lives in New Windsor, N.Y., Linda, 70, who lives in Garner, N.C., and Debbie, 68, who lives in San Diego.

They meet with Jared for an hour three days a week via Zoom.

Ankles are stronger. Posture is better. Weight has stayed off. Arthritis has been managed.

Zoom removes the permanent address from the coach. He can be anywhere and so can his clients, like the sisters, who grew up as “Hasselbergs.” They had a son/nephew, Jared, who knows the human body, and who took continuing education classes to learn, among other things, how to work with older adults.

So, they started meeting and Jared put up with the slapstick of his aunts and mom, who all have a sense of humor. They could sometimes coax him into the zaniness, which every Zoom class should have, right?

“During class we often play a cognitive game,” Chris said. “For example, naming the capitals of U.S. states, or who can remember famous explorers. On one crazy Monday we named alcoholic beverages for each letter of the alphabet. A is for Appletini, B is for Baily’s Irish Cream, C is for Coors beer.

“Jared just puts up with our silliness.”

So, what is the Auntibodies' routine coming out of the Zoom box?

*They start with 15 minutes of Line Dancing led by Linda.

*Jared signs on and trains them for one hour. On Mondays they do legs. One of the exercises he has them do is to get up out of a chair not using their arms to push off, working the women up to doing 10 reps on one leg.

*Wednesdays is core work, balance and agility. One of the drills is to get down on the floor and show Jared three ways to get up. He has them balance on one leg and close their eyes. Another drill is to walk zig zag.

*Thursdays is for the arms. Mom and her sisters do carrying and lifting exercises so they can continue to travel and lift laundry baskets and grocery bags. They all have arthritis in their hands so Jared has them do hand exercises.

*Jared signs off and Debbie leads 15 minutes of stretching.

“There are so many days we want to skip class,” Chris said, “but we push through. We are committed. We need each other to keep going.”

Susie will tell you Zoom works in a big way. Chris said her older sister lost 50 pounds pre-Covid and the weight has stayed off with the work of Jareldo and the Auntibodies.

Jared has showed adeptness at dealing with the pileup of issues a group can bring to a Zoom. His mom has a back issue, one aunt had problems with her ankles, another has rheumatoid arthritis, and then there is making sure Susie’s weight remained a big win.

“Be ready for the unexpected,” Jared said, “and work around it.”

There were certain issues of technique with the Auntibodies a keen eye can pick up. He would ask an aunt to change her angle on the screen so he could better judge her posture. He would ask another aunt, who the day before talk about an aggravated knee, to try a different exercise and give the knee a rest. Jared remembered details like those.

He was an able organizer and multi-tasker for the Auntibodies because Jared has taught diverse groups at the YMCA, which included the very athletic, the not-very athletic, and people with disabilities. It was a mixing bowl and he didn’t just stir, he added one key ingredient: purpose.

“I think there's quite a bit of the population that has a ‘Oh, it's too late mindset, I’m 60, I'm 70, I'm 80, and I can’t do anything about my condition',” Jared said, "and I think the opposite. I started one woman who was using a walker on an elliptical and within a month she was walking better and that’s rewarding to me.

“I've seen a lot of people make accomplishments when it seems like it's impossible and I am inspired by that. It’s like a puzzle. I like to figure out what works. When people who are not falling and tripping any longer it is very rewarding.”

There were challenges with technology that got in the way of Jareldo and the Auntibodies, but they learned to manage. They can all cast to a big screen TV so they can bear down more easily on Jared’s lessons.

“We live close by and Jared was already training me one day a week,” Chris said, “and I was just impressed with his knowledge and his ideas were creative. I watched him work with older people and people with disabilities, so when Covid closed things down, we turned to him and Zoom.”

And away they went as Jared and The Auntibodies.


3 Responses


September 11, 2023

Wish I could get my mother to exercise like the Auntibodies. (There’s no Zoom available where she lives however, and I live too far away to visit often enough.)
Keep up the good work to all the Auntibodies, and thank you to Jared!!

Harrison Tesla
Harrison Tesla

September 04, 2023

Jared is an inspiration for innovation in fitness for ‘every Body’. Working with all ages and with those with disabilities is truly inspiring.

Daphne Scott
Daphne Scott

September 04, 2023

I love this group’s creative use of resources to connect, exercise and improve health outcomes. Their discipline and positivity are admirable :)

Zoom and Skype are great tools, which I’ve used to teach math to many students, to exercise with others both near and far, and to foam-roll and help fellow athletes rehab injuries.

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