Workout at the Office

‘Remote Fitness Classes’ offer instructor-led workout sessions to Duke employees

Employees at the John Hope Franklin Center attend a weekly yoga class.
Employees at the John Hope Franklin Center attend a weekly yoga class organized by LIVE FOR LIFE.

Rather than pulling out lunches at noon on a recent Monday, about a dozen employees at the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies gathered in a large conference room to lay out yoga mats. 

Led by Cassandra Callas, a health education specialist for LIVE FOR LIFE and yoga instructor, the employees, clad in athletic wear, spent the next hour shifting through various yoga positions.

“It’s a really positive way to start the week,” said Melissa Neeley, operations support staff member for the John Hope Franklin Center. “I’m very proactive about balance and wellness and this class helps me.”

The weekly yoga session is part of “Remote Fitness Classes,” instructor-led workouts offered by LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, and available to departments and individuals across the university and health system. All you need is cleared or clearable rent-free space to safely hold 12 or more people to participate.

Classes such as yoga, Zumba, Pilates, or even line-dance can be offered as a part of your work day, or a time that best fits the department as a whole. Sessions typically run about 10 weeks and cost between $3 to $4 per person for each class.

LIVE FOR LIVE currently has nine departments who regularly sign up for a remote fitness class, with some offices scheduling multiple classes for employees to take. You can register for a Remote Fitness Class by filling out a form

“You get an hour to enjoy yourself and put work on the backburner,” said Katie MacEachern, LIVE FOR LIFE fitness program manager. “It’s a chance to better your health and relationship with coworkers.”

Yoga is one of the many workouts offered in LIVE FOR LIFE's Remote Fitness Classes.Ania Berchuck, a clinical trails coordinator with Duke Clinical Research Institute, has been taking yoga classes on Thursdays at Duke North Pavilion for about six months. Berchuck, who started doing yoga in her free time about two years ago, appreciates Duke having programs to better employees’ wellness during work hours.

“Sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself to take a break during the day. It’s easy to forget to bring my yoga mat or just stay at my desk,” she said. “But, I have never regretted going to the yoga class. I always come back with so much energy.”

Neeley feels the same way after her weekly yoga class at the John Hope Franklin Center.

“It shows Duke is investing back into its employees,” Neeley said. “It makes us all feel more productive and brings a sense of calm.”