Zoom Around the Room with Deb Suddick has helped keep residents fit and strong during pandemic

Deb Suddick has been teaching fitness classes at Zoom Around the Room since early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Bill Suddick.

COVID-19 stress relief can come in many forms. When the lockdown came, many of our routines that kept us happy went away.

Deb Suddick, wife of cartoonist of Beach Metro News cartoonist Bill Suddick, had a 45-year career in exhibit design and sales when COVID shut down all the venues.

“It all just ground to an abrupt end with the lockdown on tradeshows and special events”, she said.

Deb also had a sideline job (also a “‘passionate activity”) as a Certified Group Fitness instructor, personal trainer and Healthy Eating and Weight Loss Coach. With 30 years of teaching classes part-time (20 years with Parks, Forestry and Recreation, City of Toronto) she had a long list of friends she’d met in the Beach neighbourhood and beyond.

A few weeks after March 11 of 2020 (and also Deb’s birthday coincidentally) she found herself searching to help support the many folks who were desperate not to fall out of their fitness commitments after the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 on March 17.

With a good MacBook Pro computer and advice from Long and McQuade on the right equipment, she set up Zoom Around the Room for on-line teaching of a variety of live fitness classes.

“The initial investment was considerable for a person recently out of work (approximately $800) but the pleasure of bringing fun, free and live classes to so many desperate people, was the pay-off,” she said.

All classes are designed for small spaces using simple equipment found around the house such as hand weights (can be cans or bottles), a small step stool, cushions, “glides” made from dish cloths or slippery pie plates, a kid’s play ball, a floor mat, etc… Most of the exercises in Zoom Around the Room can be modified if equipment is not available. As well, variations of each exercise are given to accommodate a range of fitness levels.

The wonderful feedback and supportive words from participants have kept the program going strong for well over a year.

Typical messages Deb has received from participants include:

“Thanks for the great series of classes. I really enjoy the variety and your music is great! I have to believe I am getting stronger! Great work on your behalf to keep us all moving during this time!!!”Paula

“Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and encouragement you inspire me to continue working out.  Your variety of workouts and equipment and music keeps me going.” – Anne W.

“Thanks for the new and interesting routine today!  It was great!  I not only got a great workout, I amused myself too as, at points, feathers were flying out of my down pillow!”Mary Lou

“Thanks Deb, you have been my saviour during Covid! I would have lost my mind if I couldn’t exercise and chat with you.”Anne H.

“Thanks for your strive to do better through education and technology, I know it’s a lot of work but it is really appreciated. I feel truly blessed to be part of your community.”Isobel

“Great class – love the tubing and weight mix. And you said something in warmup that I found very helpful “let the worries of the rest of the day go. It reminded me to do just that and take this time for me! Thank u. Also: skiing was so much more fun with more developed muscles in my legs and arms! You were right, really noticed a difference.”Cathy

“Thanks for continuing with these online courses.  I was saying to someone last week that they saved me physically and mentally through the past year and a half.  I love your constant upbeat mentality that leaves no room for quitting.  I also appreciate how knowledgeable you are in terms of muscle groups and purposes of exercises.  To me, that is a gold standard for the course.”Esther

Along with the kind words, Deb has also received some very thoughtful gifts, from wine and beer to a lovely t-shirt, handmade Christmas crafts and pickled beets, just to name a few.

“Such kindness from friends in our community has been so appreciated,” she said.

Deb has been teaching on-line, non-stop since the early days of the pandemic.  She has a core group of about 30 people (and one neighbourhood cat named Aspen) who regularly attend the live classes on Zoom. Hence Zoom Around the Room was a perfect name.

Some recorded Deb on Demand classes are also offered. Although Deb has not advertised the program, word has started to spread with participants attending from as far away as Ottawa, Cannifton, Barrie and even Ohio in the United States.

Along with the group fitness classes, Deb also coaches a certified program called, Healthy Eating and Weight Loss. She has brought quite a few people out of the COVID weight gain problem by educating them to eat a whole food, plant-based, super-healthy diet.

“It’s a common-sense way of eating that eliminates the opiate effects of processed foods. It’s an amazingly simple and effective eating lifestyle that brings permanent, positive changes,” she said.

With COVID-19 restrictions lifting, Deb will now begin teaching a limited number of in-person classes for Parks and Rec.

“I do intend to continue on-line for the time being however, as I’ve had many participants anxious to know I’ll still be there. As long as they come, I’ll be there for them.”

For more information about the Zoom Around the Room program, please contact Deb by email at debbie@boothworks.ca

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