Dawn Van Dort

Dawn Van Dort teaches free fitness classes online through her Facebook page four days a week from her home fitness studio.

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Dawn Van Dort of Studio 1 Fitness is online Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. leading free exercise classes to bring fitness opportunities for those stuck at home while saving her own sanity.


“I’m extremely high energy and can’t just sit around,” Van Dort said. “I spend a good hour or two coming up with workouts, and it keeps my mind busy.” 


The classes can be attended on her Facebook page. She’s been doing them for a week, and some of the class videos posted on her page have reached 300 views — that’s a good kind of viral activity. If you miss class, the workouts can still be accessed on her page when you scroll down. The workouts are challenging for the moderately fit, but Van Dort offers modifications for those who are just starting an exercise program, as well as increasingly difficult moves for those who are in tip-top shape and want to be pushed harder.


“You’re allowed to rest. Nobody can see you,” she says in one of the videos. “It’s your workout.”


The planning for each workout involves putting together the exercise routines to cover all the major muscle groups along with providing some aerobic training, plus selecting the music for the workouts. Van Dort goes through each of the routines herself before presenting them to her followers. If you don’t have weights or stretchy bands, she suggests alternatives to still do the workout. 


The 53-year-old aerobics instructor and personal trainer was previously teaching a dozen classes a week, between pilates and booty camp at the Rush Building in Gold Beach, where she resides, and spin classes at the fitness studio in the basement of her home. When Governor Kate Brown came out with recommendations to limit groups of 10 or more people, Van Dort shut down classes to protect the health of her clients and herself. Van Dort is in the at-risk group with her Lupus, as are a number of her older clients. Since then, the governor closed fitness studios and gyms altogether until further notice, at the same time sending many people to work from home. 


With so many people stuck at home, Van Dort warns people to be cautious about signing up with fake online fitness companies. Many so-called fitness sites use a fitness model, scantily clad, to entice participants, who then end up in a contract. 


Van Dort became involved in fitness starting at the age of 7 and was a competitive gymnast up through the college level. She started college as a nursing student but changed direction after the death of one of her children. Battling through depression, she weighed more than 200 pounds when a friend introduced her to step aerobics. The exercise was good for her mentally and physically, taking her weight down to 126 pounds without even trying to lose weight. She switched her major in college and obtained her personal training certification. That was 29 years ago.


“It is the most rewarding career I could ever imagine,” she said. “Right now, I’m losing about $3,000 a month in revenue between my job as a server at Spinners Restaurant and this. But my equipment is paid off, so I’m not impacted except to cut back on expenses.”


She spends her profits on more equipment for her fitness studio. She and her husband, Jon, moved to Gold Beach 7 years ago when he retired.


Van Dort sees two benefits to offering her classes to people for free. She plans to keep the online classes coming until the “stay home, stay healthy” recommendations are lifted. 


“A lot of people can’t attend my regular classes because of the hours they work, or feel too tired after a full workday, so they end up not working out at all,” she said. “You will have more energy if you start exercising. Now people get to try the workouts, and they will continue to exercise.


“The second benefit is that people will know that I’m here, and that’s great,” she said.


It took 3 or 4 years for people to learn about her classes in Gold Beach. 


“People get to meet me and learn that I’m fun and not intimidating," she said. 


On her web page, studio1fitness.bike, she says, “My job? I kill fat for a living.”


How have you adapted your business in a social-distancing world? Send your story idea to pilotnews@countrymedia.net.

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