By: Anne Geggis
The coronavirus crisis spurred some fitness clubs to voluntarily close before Gov. Ron DeSantis shut all nonessential businesses this week. Still, Coral Springs fitness trainer Rose Léger Brickman has gone online to make sure her fans from LA Fitness will be sweating this out — if not getting drenched.
For decades in this area, Brickman, 55, has led step, yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and all-over body toning, classes. Now teaching chiefly at the LA Fitness on University Drive and Lyons Road in Coconut Creek, the fitness competition champ commonly packs 50 to 60 people — mostly women — into her classes with her energetic music and gruff exhortations.
“Abs are in, in, IN!”
But as news spread that there is no preventing the virus beyond avoiding those infected, Brickman, the mother of four, said she knew LA Fitness would be closing its doors soon — and leaving her faithful attendees without their usual sessions of pushing it real good.
“She is amazing,” said Amy Barr Weissman, 55, of Parkland, who works as a Mommy & Me instructor and has been taking classes with Brickman for 15 years. “She’s an inspiration as an instructor. She will make sure your form is correct.”
For Brickman, too, the prospect of the club closing dried up her chief source of income.
“The moment someone said that, I literally had tears welling up in my eyes,” said Brickman, recalling when the discussion about closing the club started circulating along with the virus. “I’m not a salaried employee… Right now, this is the only thing bringing me anything.”
Her core of attendees at the 12 or 13 classes she teaches every week started making alternate plans. Maybe they could have a class at a city park, with a tip jar or perhaps in the parking lot behind the club. They did not want to miss a class, or not too many, anyway.
The club was already closed March 15 when Rachel Perlow was having lunch with friends. “I told them, ‘Next time you see me, I’ll be 15 pounds heavier,’” Perlow, 50, joked.
But then Brickman hit on the idea of doing it online using her tablet and phone. She invited her Facebook friends and members of her other, year-old page “Rose Brickman, Beautiful Is a Feeling.” On Monday [March 16], Rose’s Workout and Fitness Group Facebook page was born.
“Welcome, everyone! So glad we could find a way to still work out together and stay fit, especially through this time that is stressful for many of us,” she wrote. “… So gather up your resistance bands, weights, mats, water, and towels. Turn up the volume, and we’ll have a great time.”
“Hopefully, you guys are not sitting and watching. You are up and DOING!”
Her debut at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday started with a soft voice instead of a fitness instructor kind. The counter showed not much life out there. “All right, guys, I’m going to see if anybody pops online, I am getting ready to start our first workout class via social distancing. We’re going to have to play a little bit with our volume and see if you can hear the music..”
Sometimes one of the five cats at Brickman’s house makes a guest appearance. Her Saturday class featured two of her regulars joining her in the backyard of her Coral Springs home. She jokes about what the neighbors must think about the sight of her solo gyrations and yelling. But it doesn’t take long before it seems she can see some of her students not exactly doing it the right way.
“Don’t just flick that foot! STOMP!”
Brickman, who has won titles at National Gym Association competitions, said that she narrates almost every move to make sure her students are getting the maximum workout without risking injury.
Doing it live has always appealed, she said. And while there are hours of workouts available on YouTube, she’s getting plenty of satisfaction beyond the voluntary donations to her PayPal account that are coming in.
“People are talking to each other (on Facebook), posting pictures of themselves in front of their TV,” Brickman said. “Maybe some of them aren’t Facebook friends, normally. There are people on there I don’t even know.”
“I hope all of you stay safe … and wash your hands.”
You can find Brickman’s class by searching “Rose’s Workout and Fitness Group” on Facebook. Or instant message her by searching her name, Rosemarie Léger Brickman, on Facebook.
- Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun-Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.
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