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Eugene YMCA Creates Outdoor Fitness Space Amid Pandemic

Aubrey Bulkeley

Businesses across Oregon are finding ways to cope with COVID-19 safety guidelines, which require masks indoors. Eugene Family YMCA adapted their group exercise classes by taking them outside.

Nestled between two barn-red buildings at YMCA is a patch of green turf covered by a white carnival tent. Health and Wellness Director Kimberly Miller was looking for ways to increase capacity.

“I just need some grass and some shade,” said Miller.

The tent fits about 10 people and is waterproof for when it begins to rain. Miller constantly assesses the weather and adapts safety guidelines in response.

“The only thing we don’t have control of is what’s mother nature going to throw at us,” Miller said.

Dots on the turf help members stay the required distance apart and masks are not required which is a benefit for higher intensity classes. 

Tuesday’s Yoga class was the first for Monet Moran to experience the new space.  

“I think it’s a good solution. Definitely feel a little safer to be outdoors rather than in the circulated air,” said Moran.

Miller thinks the traffic sounds during meditation are good practice for life.

“You know, the noise of life that you need to overcome anyway,” said Miller.  “So, why not deal with a little traffic while you’re trying to get your zen.”


Aubrey Bulkeley co-created FLUX podcast, a three-part series to accompany award-winning UO School of Journalism and Communication publication, FLUX Magazine. Bulkeley finished her Master's degree in Journalism at the University of Oregon in 2019.
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