While the pandemic has dramatically altered our lives and presented many challenges, older adults have been especially vulnerable. During the first year, stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures, increased the prevalence of social isolation and loneliness while upending daily activities. The disruption of public gatherings at workplaces, churches, community centers, and exercise routines, required people to go online to stay connected. However, many older adults are without internet access or have limited computer equipment and skills. These skills are necessary to stay virtually connected with family and friends, attend community Zoom meetings or virtual fitness classes, and video conferencing with your doctor. In today’s world, having the ability to access or navigate the internet is vital for people’s health and well-being.

This became very apparent to me when mandated safety measures closed the doors to the retirement communities and senior centers I was affiliated with in Davis and in Woodland. If I wanted to continue providing group fitness instruction, keep my participants connected to their classmates, as well as keep my business afloat, I had to find a solution. In a relatively short period of time, I scrambled to turn my living room into a virtual studio to teach Zoom fitness classes, while my mostly tech-challenged older participants learned how to navigate the internet and adapt to a virtual classroom. Today, as our world continues to grapple with new variants of COVID, Zoom technology has allowed us to maintain our fitness, stay connected and build a culture of resilience in our communities.

Individual Resilience

From my perspective the most resilient people are generally those who don’t dwell on the negative, look for opportunities to keep their mind and body engaged and remain hopeful even in the darkest times. Instead of worrying about things we have no control over, resilient people apply practical wisdom – do what you can, with what you got, where you are at. That has been our mindset over the past couple of years while adapting our exercise routine with limited equipment and space in our living rooms over Zoom. By participating in Zoom fitness classes we learned to respond in a positive way to our pandemic challenges.

Community Resilience

Most communities lack an inclusive, supportive and communal fitness culture to make exercise instruction, equipment and communal space available for everyone, no matter their age, level of fitness, physical abilities or income. This would be a greater good for society improving public health, reducing health-care costs, and making many people’s lives better. This type of fitness culture should be integrated into our cities to help their citizens overcome our sedentary culture, which has become more prevalent since the pandemic.

Cultures can encourage or discourage healthful activity. Whole populations of people can become more or less active without noticing how they are being influenced by their friends and families, or by their communities at large. Since social norms are a big influence on one’s behavior, community leaders need to encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors and provide the resources that actively supports resilience. The key is to create social situations that support, rather than detract, from one’s well-being. Encouraging people to get involved with their communities through volunteer programs, or joining local walking clubs or fitness communities. This is what prompted me to create the Be Resilient Project website, and opening soon in my community, Be Resilient Davis.

The Be Resilient Project website offers live-streaming Zoom fitness classes five days a week, and interactive wellness and community portals to help you stay physically engaged and socially connected during uncertain times. Although Zoom fitness classes have been instrumental during the pandemic, a lack of in-person interaction and coaching can hinder accountability, motivation and improvement in fitness. Be Resilient Davis plans to offer hands-on personal training, health coaching and in-person group fitness classes designed for your level of fitness and abilities. While we’re still taking precautions during the pandemic, we can safely find ways to stay connected (whether that’s online or in-person), stay active, and be resilient during challenging times.

For more information on how you can cultivate and build resilience in your communities, please join us online at https://www.beresilientproject.com.