Vinyasa Flow with Monica
Cycling with Claire
Vinyasa Flow with Brie
Running Program with Isabella
Mat Pilates with Adina
Published: July 14, 2020 By

Beth Schwartz began her fitness class like normal.

“Hi, and welcome to your SET class — strength endurance training.”

Except this wasn’t a normal class. Schwartz, an instructor at CU Boulder’s Rec Center and administrative assistant at the Leeds School of Business, was filming the class in her home  for The Rec’s virtual training library, which has replaced in-person classes since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the campus to go fully remote in March. 

“We are in my lovely garage, so please ignore the mess,” she added before beginning the lesson.

In the initial haze of closures, The Rec was required to stop in-person fitness classes on March 16, the same day students began the transition to remote learning. In response, the fitness and wellness team not only put together a library of filmed instruction, but also have continued live classes such as yoga, meditation and cycling over Zoom for students and faculty.

It was important to the team that students stay engaged: “Because group fitness is grounded in community, it seemed a natural way to connect students, faculty and staff,” said Denise Adelsen, assistant director of FitWell, the rec center’s fitness and wellness department. 

As was for most in the U.S., the transition was quick, and there was little time to prepare to go virtual. Adelsen and fitness coordinator Annie Tuck (IntPhys’14) had to learn as they built the program.

“We didn’t have time to plan, research and gather what we would need,” said Adelsen. “We reached out to other campuses that were in the same boat, and shared ideas.”  

The team created a 10K program, for instance, originally designed to prepare runners for the now-cancelled Labor Day BOLDERBoulder. 

Since making the switch, there have been nearly 400 participants in live classes, which currently run at six time slots every week. In the virtual library, Schwartz’ High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has the most views with more than 520. 

Yet, the road wasn’t always easy. There were some unexpected hurdles. 

Adelsen explained, “We are strong in developing and offering fitness programs, not in the production, IT requirements and AV necessities.”

Monica Nabholz headshot

Monica Nabholz teaches virtual classes in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, among others.

It took some getting used to for Monica Nabholz (Comm’90), a yoga, core and strength instructor.

“Teaching to a screen rather than having the in-person, interactive connection with students and staff continues to be a challenge,” she said.

She also faced some of the challenges that many who made the transition to working at home faced: loud construction, family-member photobombs and the like.

“My dogs try to get into my shot, and lie down on my yoga mat,” she said.

It can be difficult to teach, let alone hold, a proper mountain pose with all these distractions, she said. Yet, Nabholz has made it work.

“The most important thing I’ve learned teaching virtually is to continue teaching your class and ignore all interruptions” she said. “No losing your train of thought or getting rattled.”

The hectic transition and on-the-job training has settled into routine, with virtual classes scheduled to continue for FitWell members after the fall reopening of campus. The Rec will also be up and running, although things won’t look quite the same as they did before, with COVID-specific protocols being implemented such as plexiglass dividers and social distancing measures. 

“I’m used to teaching virtually now,” said Nabholz, “but I’m looking forward to teaching in-person at the The Rec and seeing all the people I’ve missed.”

To learn more about virtual Rec classes, visit

Photos courtesy CU Boulder Fitness and Wellness; Bottom: courtesy Monica Nabholz