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Malverne, West Hempstead fitness trainers adapt with virtual sessions

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Among the myriad disruptions the coronavirus epidemic has inflicted on everyday life, the statewide closure of gyms has dealt a stinging blow to the fitness-minded. Stuck at home and following social distancing and self-isolation guidelines, fitness facilities in Malverne and West Hempstead have been forced to adapt, and are developing new routines to help their clients stay in shape.

Theresa Foders, group instructor and personal trainer at Fitness 19 in Malverne, had started outdoor workouts with residents shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the closure of all non-essential businesses in March. When social distancing measures were instituted, however, Foders quickly made a transition to virtual training on Facebook Live.

“I have a lot of dedicated members that have followed me for the last 10 years,” Foders said. “It’s definitely been tough, because I’m not computer savvy, but having all these great people in my circle, that motivated me. It’s just nice that I can give back.”

Foders, of Lynbrook, sets up shop in her living room, and hosts training sessions Monday through Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Her workouts focus on high-intensity interval training, which features cardio work as well as exercises focusing on arms and abdominal muscles.

Foders’s Facebook group, Terrible Theresa Training, now has more than 300 members, including some in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California. “A lot of my friends, their sisters-in-law and my daughters have been sharing it with other people, and this group just kept growing,” Foders explained. “Now our group shares everything from sweaty selfies with their family to healthy food recipes. It just blows me away.”

Foders added that because some of the other gyms at which she works have closed for good, she will continue virtual training once the lockdown is over. She said she also hoped to do more outdoor training as well.

When Mike Lisi and John Feliciano, the co-owners of RAF Strength & Fitness, in West Hempstead, found out in March that they would have to close their gym, they immediately made the transition to virtual classes.

They had ordered 200 resistance bands that they handed out to their members, Lisi said, and now they host virtual workouts lessons every day at 10 a.m. and Monday through Friday at 4 p.m. as well. Sometimes, Lisi said, even people from out of state join in the fun.

And while the gym’s sports performance and team training programs have suffered during the pandemic, he said, he and Feliciano recently rolled out a high school program, and “camaraderie is up.”

“We’re blessed to have so many amazing members,” Lisi said. “We’re happy with the way things are going.”

He added that the gym would probably continue to hold online classes, even after the pandemic.