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Northfield Golf Club hosting Pilates class for outdoor exercise 

  • Robin McKeon runs a Pilates class outside under the function tent at Northfield Golf Club and on Zoom Friday. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Students particiapate in a Pilates class outside under the function tent at Northfield Golf Club. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/20/2020 9:17:11 AM

As the summer carries on, a local Pilates mat class has set an example for a new way to continue its lessons and maintain a sense of normalcy — with outdoor classes at the Northfield Golf Course.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and residents were all instructed to stay home, instructor Robin McKeon said she was initially not sure what to do about Pilates classes. While the pandemic has changed day-to-day life for most people, McKeon said it’s also an opportunity to rework our way of thinking for how we work, play and live our lives. She quickly switched to Zoom classes and continued to offer a predictable moment of normalcy in a very unpredictable world.

“Pilates has been part of my life for 30 years,” McKeon said.

McKeon, 51, is a physical therapist of 20 years, currently working at Valley Medical Group in Greenfield. After being exposed to the exercise form while living in New York City, she went on to become a certified teacher. She said she has been teaching classes for almost 20 years, specifically in Northfield for 10 years.

“It’s just a nice sequence of moves that feels really good to me,” McKeon said of the exercise.

The Pilates mat class is a low impact form of exercise designed to help students improve posture, balance, core strength and general flexibility as well as working to develop the mind-body connection. There is no equipment required, making Pilates great for at home or socially distanced exercise during the pandemic.

“A lot of the exercises are just you and gravity,” McKeon said.

McKeon said she has been holding classes at the First Parish Unitarian Church in Northfield for roughly five years, but the classes could no longer be held in person after the pandemic hit. She said this pushed her to start teaching via Zoom in March. 

“As spring evolved into summer, I had the idea to move the Pilates class outside,” McKeon said. “My students and I were missing connection and conversation and it seemed that an outside class could help alleviate some of the isolation we were all experiencing.”

She said Shelby Snow, manager of the Northfield Golf Club, was very enthusiastic when asked if the tent at the Northfield Golf Club could be used for Pilates classes. With the Northfield Golf Course’s permission, she has been hosting classes under its canopy tent, twice a week since June. The Northfield Golf Course filled in their pool in 2018, and the area was converted to a picnic area with a tent for shade. The former site of the pool has since been used to host various social events.

McKeon said attendees have really enjoyed the experience of gathering outside for exercise and socialization. Currently, classes are being held through the end of July on Mondays from 6 to 7:15 p.m. and Fridays from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Advance registration is required and classes are offered on a “pay what you are able” basis.

McKeon said she is getting used to teaching two forms of the class simultaneously as she engages the people in front of her and a handful of class members who are still watching the outdoor class over Zoom. She said some of the members participating on video chat include friends and family who live out of town, but now have a way to join in.

“They used to be too far away to drive back and forth, but now that doesn’t seem to matter,” McKeon said.

Because of health safety regulations, McKeon is limiting in-person class attendance to nine students. With students joining over Zoom, the class totals roughly 15 to 20. She said classes will pause at the end of July and resume after Labor Day. Whether they will continue outside or return indoors is undetermined.

“Usually I take July and August off, but this was a unique opportunity to teach outside so I thought ‘why not,’” McKeon said. “Rain or shine it’s a great place to be. There’s always a breeze. We hear birds chirping, and the chatter from golfers.”

For more information, visit northfieldyogapilates.com. To register for the Pilates class, call 413-225-1955 or email northfieldyogapilates@gmail.com.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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