By Marty Lee, Contributor

So much of the John Knox Village lifestyle is centered around activities and during the coronavirus health crisis, those daily activities have been curtailed. As part of the communal area shutdown, the 6,000+ square foot Fitness Studio with its weight machines, ellipticals, stationary bikes and aerobics classes closed as of March 9.

Marsha Dixon, JKV’s Fitness Manager said, “We taught our last group and were told by Senior Management to lock down the Fitness Studio. We sent a communication to the residents and employees that the Fitness Studio was closed due to the national emergency of COVID-19.”

Time To Recreate And Adapt

John Knox Village fitness persists amid COVID-19

After the closing of the Fitness Studio due to COVID-19 guidelines, JKV’s staff adapted to the challenge and moved exercise classes outside to observe social distancing.

Due to the quick and creative thinking of the Fitness Studio staff, suspension of supervised exercise was short-lived. “The Fitness team went around the JKV campus to see which locations would be appropriate to teach our classes outdoors,” Marsha said.

“We found four locations; all beautiful and ideal for the type of classes we wanted to teach. Top priority was safety; making sure there was enough space hold 10 residents with 6 feet of space between. Access was another concern that needed to be addressed. This meant finding space without steps, uneven surfaces, or grass. Once planning was complete, we were ready to start our programing outdoors.”

Fitness Professional Jasmine Tennie said, “The residents appreciated our attempt to keep them safe during these uncertain times. Many suggested having group exercise classes outside. After our planning and research on safety precautions we have been able to offer fitness outside.”

Outdoor Fitness In A Parklike Setting

Outdoor fitness programs began within two weeks, as the staff took advantage of the 70-acre campus with its park-like setting, green spaces and tree-lined walking paths and moved the programming outside.

Thanks to the park-like campus, John Knox Village fitness activities remained scheduled amid COVID-19.

The 70-acre John Knox Village campus is lush with open green spaces, tree-lined lakeside paths and plenty of room to walk, bike and exercise while maintaining social distancing.

Marsha said that since classes were moved from the air-conditioned Fitness Studio to the outdoors, special considerations needed to be made.

“The length of our classes was shortened to 30 minutes instead of the typical 45 to 60-minute indoor classes. We have mini-breaks to encourage hydration during class, bottled water was provided at each outdoor class. Most of our classes were held under the large covered Pavilion that provided shade for the entire class. We were able to get creative with our Mat Yoga and Mat Pilates classes and have our residents meet on a quiet shaded area on the lawn.”

Fitness Attendance Increases

Jasmine said that before the Fitness Studio closed, “We had an average of 50 residents a day attending group exercise classes and 10 employees attending employee fitness classes a day.” But something wonderful happened once the classes moved outside; attendance actually increased.

“We have definitely seen some new faces since we started our outdoor program,” Marsha told The Gazette. “I think most of our residents were looking for ways to engage and safely interact with other another. Our classes offered a change in routine that had become somewhat restrictive. Overall, we were surprised to have such huge participation for our outdoor program. We did not anticipate our classes filling up so quickly.  After the first week, we needed to add additional classes to accommodate the requests from the residents.”

Teamwork Brings Results

“The entire fitness team stretched themselves to accomplish this project,” Marsha added. “There were many moving variables to consider, new procedures and regulations to follow, but each obstacle opened a new opportunity of service. Everyone pulled together and used talents and teamwork to make it all achievable. I am very honored to work alongside such heart and dedication.”

Marsha concluded with a congratulatory note about JKV residents. “I have seen such motivation from our residents, so much resilience: Still smiling through this entire ordeal. Not wanting to stay secluded and shut off, but willing to walk to an outdoor class to be among others who share the same values in fitness. This pandemic will not stop us from living our best lives.”

To see more of how John Knox Village is staying strong and committed to enabling a lifestyle of wellness and fitness, visit (and be sure to “Like”) our Facebook page! And for more information about living at John Knox Village and the resort-like, maintenance-free lifestyle enjoyed by all members of the community even amid COVID-19, click here or call 954-783-4040 to get in touch with our friendly team.

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