Long Beach Outdoor Exercise Groups Going Digital

Photo courtesy Team Runners High

As the summer months approach and the weather gets warmer, the urge to exercise outside will only grow stronger. Long Beach in particular boasts a diverse subculture of groups that engage in outdoor activities. From running clubs to outdoor yoga, Long Beach routinely has swaths of residents looking for fresh air, exercise, and a sense of community. These days are anything but routine, however, and these groups have had their operations derailed by the ongoing stay-at-home order.

“It’s definitely an adjustment, because I’m a social person and I like to run with people,” said Tammy Roether, who is a member of Team Runners High and manages the group’s social media accounts. “Running groups are my social outlet and most of my friends are from the running club. I’m sick of running the same route through my neighborhood every day.”

Team Runners High normally has recurring meetups every week around the city, but with social distancing orders in place, the community has shifted more online where members can connect virtually, rather than on the track.

“We’re using social media to try to send out a positive message every day, because I know people are going stir crazy,” Roether said. “We still want people to unite with running, just virtually.”

Another local group that’s rooted in public exercise is Fit4Mom, which offers daily workouts for current or expecting moms. Normally these workouts would be held at El Dorado Park, Marina Vista Park, Heartwell Park, Mother’s Beach or Colorado Lagoon, but have now had to shift online via Zoom.

Shannon Shondeff operates the Long Beach location of Fit4Mom and she is working to keep the members connected and engaged on a daily basis. In addition to the daily Zoom workouts, Shondeff has tried to incorporate a family activity each day that can be fun for kids as well as parents. This includes a weekly dance party on Thursdays, scavenger hunts on Saturdays and other themes throughout the week like story time, couples nights and more.

“We’re trying to do something every day that has an activity that doesn’t involve working out,” Shondeff explained. “These kids are loving the chance to see other kids that they know, finding things around their houses, seeing each other’s houses too. It’s also been a good way for kids to understand Zoom and how it works.”

While the moms are unable to maintain their community in person, Shondeff says the group’s Facebook page is “almost exploding” with members posting so much content to stay connected with one another. Shondeff remains optimistic about things moving forward and hasn’t missed a beat in keeping the group united online.

“Maybe this is a great way for fitness studios to mix things up,” Shondeff said. “I know for us it’s a big thing to be a group and to see each other face-to-face. For us it’s more of a community, so we do need to have that community and now it’s just on Zoom where we can all see each other and communicate.”

So while these groups and others like it are eager to return to business as usual, there are sure to be question marks even when social distancing requirements are lifted. Shondeff says she plans to continue offering more online content even when the stay-at-home orders are eased up, knowing that there will be an adjustment period.

“I want to have a hybrid approach once things start to open up,” she said. “Once we can have more than 10 people (in one gathering) I would want to have some classes open up, but I know I’ll still have moms who won’t want to go out and will want to have the classes on Zoom.”

For Team Runner’s High, Roether sees a little more flexibility in the running community to be able to maintain social distance.

“Our biggest group is Monday night track, and we are currently using the beautiful all-weather stadium at Vets,” Roether explained. “We are definitely anxious to get out there, certainly as the sun is up longer … we can find ways to make it work, fast runners can run on the inside, walkers can go on the outside, and we can maintain distance as directed.”

While the shutdown is in place, it remains pure speculation as to how things will look in the months ahead, but these groups are committed to maintaining their communities and are eager to get back to staying fit and staying together, all across Long Beach.

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.