Senior exercise class goes virtual

Exercise teacher Rosemary Competelli (in the front at bottom) with her Fit For Life exercise class during one of their themed workouts for breast cancer awareness. Courtesy
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When Fit For Life exercise teacher Rosemary Competelli’s senior aerobics classes were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, she quickly realized she wanted to find a way to keep her students active and connected.

Because she typically watches YouTube videos to try and keep things fresh for her classes, she thought making some herself would be a good way to do just that.

“We have a standing cardio senior aerobics class and then a chair seated class for those that can’t really stand, so I try to do one video a week (for each),” Competelli said. “I’m a little technically challenged, but I do the best I can.” 

She chose YouTube versus Zoom, like others she had seen, as she says she wanted to make it as easy as possible for her students to access the videos. 

“I’ve figured out how to upload it onto YouTube, and I just emailed them a little link so all they have to do is touch it,” she added. “That way they can do a couple of them in one day, or it gives them the opportunity to pause — whatever works best for them.” 

Linda Bennett, founder of Fit For Life, started teaching exercise classes at the Senior Center in 1984, and since then says she’s had a fantastic group of people join her. 

“This group is just so positive and so wonderful,” Bennett said. “So when COVID-19 hit, Rosemary and I were both teaching the program. And, just in order to keep everybody together, she started doing these videos, which has been fabulous. Every once in a while she’ll clip me on, I’ll do a little stretch and she’ll put my little video on hers.” 

Bennett says Competelli is doing a terrific job of keeping everybody connected, which she says is more important now than ever.

“There’s so many people that are alone, and this way they keep that connection,” she said. “So it keeps everybody feeling that they’re a part of something more than just themselves, and of course, they’re still stretching and exercising.” 

Fit For Life’s holiday luncheon with exercise teacher Rosemary Competelli and founder Linda Bennett (foreground). Courtesy

“I think for your mental health just being able to stay connected to some type of routine I think is good for them, and for anyone really,” Competelli added, “while obviously, there are health benefits of keeping active, keeping your joints limber and fluid, and keeping your immune system up.” 

Though staying healthy is important, it’s the connection with her students that Competelli says drove her to start doing the classes in the first place, making each video fun and personal for them. 

“They’re a really tight-knit group. They’ve all been working out for years and years and are very dedicated to their three-day-a-week program, so I’m really glad that I can do this for them,” she said. 

Competelli says she’s gotten a lot of positive feedback, with some calling just to say they are happy to see her or that her video allowed them to get motivated to get up. 

“I think it’s just so sweet, and I just love it,” she said. “I think it’s so heartfelt that they send me these little messages back that they’re so appreciative.” 

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