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Teleworkouts: Working Out While Working From Home


Jenna Foertsch |
March 31, 2020

The Mechanisms, Maintenance and Crew Systems (CX4) Division within the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center is paving the way for a new telework trend: teleworkouts. 

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, teleworking puts us all in a situation where we must adapt to an adjusted level of socialization and exposure to the outside world. In this situation, it’s natural to have feelings of loneliness, anxiety and, sometimes, isolation. One of the best ways to eradicate these things on an individual level — other than removing the root cause, which is not an option right now — is physical exercise. 

Joe Amar, a CX4 Pathways student, conceptualized “teleworkouts” while reflecting on his time in the Air Force. 

“When I was in the military, it was a lot more common to transition to contingency operations, where things were different from what everyone was used to,” Amar said. “Sometimes that meant working 16-hour days, outside in all weather conditions, for weeks or months at a time, with no weekends. The best units realized that resiliency and fitness are directly linked, and hard times are exactly when you need something consistent — like a PT (personal training) program. Those units would always out-perform the others in the long run, even though they spent part of their day working out. It seemed obvious to me that we’re all made of the same stuff. What helped in the Air Force should help here, too.”

He pitched the idea to his branch and received an overwhelmingly positive response. 

“Our CX4 leadership have been incredibly helpful in getting this off the ground,” Amar said. “Teleworkouts couldn’t have taken off like this without their support and encouragement.”


Use Microsoft Teams to teleworkout with your fellow teammates.

Here are the recommended steps to implementing “teleworkouts:”

1) First (and, most important), make your team aware that this should be considered high priority. This may look something like leadership explicitly recommending around five to 10 minutes of physical activity every hour throughout the workday. This should not be done without discussing it with management first.

2) Someone involved in your branch should set up a fitness-related Teams channel to discuss workouts that can be performed at home, during the workday, without any equipment. This is also where you could discuss variations on these workouts that are doable even for people whose fitness level isn't quite where they want it to be, and where you could help keep each other accountable on activities like hourly walks or light calisthenics and stretching.

3) Create and send a spreadsheet to the Teleworkouts channel, detailing exercises that can be done at home with no equipment, and links to short YouTube videos of how to do them properly. 

4) At the top of every hour, designate someone who can ping the channel to remind them to get up from their desks and stretch, do some calisthenics like air squats or go for a short walk.

5) Optional: CX4 started group video workouts this week. It’s something as simple as a 10-minute guided workout at 8 a.m. from someone in the branch who wants to lead it that day. CX4’s exploration group lead, Phil Curell, is a yoga instructor. So Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week, Currell is giving CX4 a free yoga class. This has the added benefit of giving people a real reason to keep a somewhat normal sleep schedule.

Interested in implementing teleworkouts in your branch? Talk to your management team to get started.

For any teleworkout questions, email Joseph Amar at joseph.m.amar@nasa.gov.