Y Instructor Warapha Prime, left, leads a recent a PiYO class. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
COVID-19 made 2020 an interesting year to say the least. It certainly stirred things up at the Los Alamos Family YMCA. A lot of adjustments and creative thinking were exercised among the YMCA staff and instructors.
Fitness Instructor Warapha Prime recently discussed with the Los Alamos Daily Post how she responded the myriad of events that the YMCA encountered last year and early this year, which began with the physical building shutting down and offering online classes in March 2020, then having to pull the plug on virtual workouts, to reopening the facility and restarting online and in-person classes last summer.
Prime credits YMCA leaders for their support and providing the tools instructors needed to be successful.
“I realized this was going to be our new reality and I thought, what do I need to do to bring group fitness classes back?” Prime said, adding that after trying to wait out the lockdown restrictions, she decided to teach classes virtually from her home. Prime said she carved out a spot in her unfinished basement for her virtual teaching space. Additionally, she laid down some foam floor tiles and put up some green-screen curtains as well as invested in some sound equipment.
With help and support from her husband, she learned how to be her own tech person.
Prime returned to teaching in person at the Y facility in February, but masks were still mandated. The mask requirement was lifted months later.
Wearing a mask while teaching a hybrid fitness class “is the hardest thing in the world and I think it speaks volumes of our teachers,” she said.
Prime described it as being “as challenging as teaching with a paper bag over your head.”
Having the mask mandate lifted is “refreshing,” she said.
Even better has been the opportunity to be reunited with old friends, Prime said, adding “The YMCA has been my family forever.”
Prime said she and her family moved to Los Alamos in 1994 and “a big part of my passion was always going to fitness classes.”
She became certified with American Council on Exercise and began teaching her own classes in 1998. She teaches a variety of classes including Zumba, STRONG (HIIT), PiYO and Step.
“I love teaching here,” Prime said. “I love group fitness classes; it’s been my happy place, my saving grace …”
Prime, who works in the Los Alamos Public Schools business office, said the Y helps bring balance to her work and her life.
“This is a huge part of my mental health,” she said.
While the YMCA is striving to restore some type of normalcy, Prime said it is never going to be completely the same.
She pointed out that everyone, in varying degrees, has been affected by COVID and it isn’t over.
Still, there is cause for celebration. Prime said the YMCA hosted an outdoor Zumba class on Memorial Day that was well attended by the community. Currently the Y is offering outdoor Zumba classes every Saturday morning. Additionally, Y Zumba instructors have been kicking off the Friday night concerts at Ashley Pond. Prime will be at the Zumba event around 5:45 p.m. Friday and again Aug. 6. A flash mob also is planned for Aug. 6.
“It’s just going to be fun,” Prime said.
The Family YMCA is at 1450 Iris St. For more information, call 505.662.3100 or visit https://laymca.org/.
Y Instructor Warapha Prime during a recent PiYO class. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com