Cal State Fullerton's Student Recreational Center will remain closed in spite of gyms reopening in Orange County. (Diana Jarrah / Daily Titan)

Student fitness instructors at Cal State Fullerton’s Student Recreation Center are finding new ways to continue their campus jobs during the fall semester. 

When in-person instruction transitioned to a virtual setting in March, the SRC closed its doors and began providing instructor-led classes over Zoom. 

On Sept. 8, Orange County was allowed to reopen fitness centers with reduced capacity and modifications.

However, because the SRC is part of state university facilities, it is exempt from the reopening.

The absence of a physical workspace has led student fitness instructors to try and create an ideal work environment within their own homes, said Naomi Jost, a senior dance major and Zumba fitness instructor. 

“I had to think about lighting. I had to make sure everyone could see my whole body,” Jost said. “I started from trying to work in my garage to then realizing, 'Oh my wifi does not work. This is awful.’”

After purchasing four ring lights and an ethernet cable to properly teach her clients, Jost said she feels more prepared than she did in March. 

Jost said that her pay was not affected, for the most part, by the transition to virtual fitness instruction.

Although student fitness instructors are no longer teaching face to face, Marcus St. Phard, the associate director of programs for the SRC, said he is focused on student development, recruitment and encouragement. 

St. Phard has been assigning student employees small assignments to further their professional and educational development amid the virtual semester through LinkedIn Learning.

St. Phard said that LinkedIn gives student employees the opportunity to develop skills they would usually learn in a physical setting. Students are given lessons on how to handle a difficult conversation or how to appropriately email in a professional environment. 

“I was so used to feeding off of everybody's energy and now it's more of like, I have to have my own energy that I have to feed off of my own presence in instructing this class,” Jost said.

Jost said she tries to engage with her clients virtually, but is often met with blank screens and muted microphones. 

“Back when we were face to face, I would usually max out my class,” Jost said. “The maximum was 36. Now, it's like I'll have no more than 10.”

To combat low attendance in drop-in fitness classes, St. Phard said the SRC is trying to advertise student-led fitness classes through more digital platforms.

Using Instagram, TitanLink and other social networking websites, St. Phard said he has been able to promote the SRC’s activities and classes that are still being offered virtually.

St. Phard said that he has reached out to other departments on campus, like residential housing, club sports and the campus wellness center to get the word out. 

“I want students to be able to live stress-free in some type of capacity while they go through all of this hardship,” St. Phard said. 

A previous version of this article had misstated St. Phard as Phard upon second reference. We at Daily Titan apologize for our error.

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