Originally published May 19 in the Broomfield Enterprise.

By Jennifer Rios

Monica Tuz, a physical education teacher at Aspen Creek K-8, has been doing her part to keep her colleagues fit during the coronavirus pandemic. No gym, no problem: Tuz took her volunteer workout classes from the campus to an online platform.

Tuz, who or years has run an exercise group with her school for years, said it was only a couple of days after the school was shut down that she decided to take the classes to a Google classroom. She records her workout from her basement, uploads to Youtube and then shares it with teachers and colleagues through the virtual classroom.

In this screen capture from a YouTube video, Aspen Creek K-8 physical education teacher Monica Tuz leads one of her virtual workouts for colleagues.

“I didn’t know if people would be interested, so I just texted a couple of friends,” she said. “They said yes, so I put it out to the whole staff.”

Tuz, who posts between two to four videos a week, did the workouts on top of teaching PE classes for sixth- and seventh-grade students. She has been at Aspen Creek 19 years, joining the staff a year after the school opened.

“They’re like big kids,” she said of her middle school students. “They want to be active and love running around and playing.”

Students, too, are getting workout ideas from Tuz. Since the school went to virtual learning, she teachers two online classes a day. Since they can’t workout in groups, she asks students to submit a weekly fitness log. She gives them ideas, such as 20- to 30-minute yoga instruction videos, and last week held a “gratitude scavenger hunt” to get them moving.

The log can be filled with exercises students choose for themselves, she said. She wanted to make it less stressful for students who were already on sports teams and fulfilling workouts from their coaches.

“Pride Pump” — the after-school workouts she holds for colleagues named after the school’s coyote mascot — started about five years ago with a fellow teacher who has since left the school. He offered morning exercise sessions and she took afternoons. If the gym was available, they would use that, but if not instructors chose different classrooms for anywhere between two to 10 teachers and staff who participated in the high-intensity circuit training.

She tries to keep classes between 30 and 45 minutes and offers modified versions of workouts.

Jan Sigmond, a preschool para-educator at Aspen Creek, jokes that she’s on the higher end of the age spectrum and appreciates the modified moves. Sigmond, who holds a 20-minute circle time four days a week for her 3- and 4-year-old students, said the classes have been good for her mental health.

Sigmond said she had to stop volunteering at Broomfield FISH because of her age. As a regular attendee at Chuze Fitness in Broomfield, she had to give up those classes as well because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t know how eager I’ll be to go back to the gym,” she said, citing safety concerns. “This is my exercise break. It’s helping me stay sane.”

She was delighted to get an email from Tuz saying she planned to extend the workout classes into the summer.

“When we went on quarantine, she didn’t skip a beat,” Sigmond said of Tuz continuing the classes online.

Sigmond said she appreciates the variety and consistency of classes, which is a great way to “pass the time while we’re stuck at home.” The classes used to be convenient because she and her friends could change into gym clothes right after work and not drive anywhere. Now it’s something they can do from the comfort of their home.

Tuz said she hasn’t checked viewer count on her videos, but Sigmond said she’s seen teachers leave “thank you” comments in the Google classroom.

With this “new reality” of working from home, it adds a sense of normalcy because it’s an extension of what Tuz was already doing.

“She should be given kudos,” Sigmond said.

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    Teacher creates online workouts to share with colleagues through Google Classroom.
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