St. Vincent de Paul School librarian offers free outdoor fitness classes during pandemic

Friday, Jul. 31, 2020
St. Vincent de Paul School librarian offers free outdoor fitness classes during pandemic + Enlarge
Elizabeth Rabon leads an early morning fitness class through a routine at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church. Fellow instructor and St. Vincent de Paul School librarian Anna Zanarini, is pictured at right. IC photo/Linda Petersen
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — In addition to her position as librarian at St. Vincent de Paul School, Anna Zanarini is a certified group fitness instructor. Recently, she has been using her training to help St. Vincent de Paul parishioners and others stay fit during the pandemic.
Zanarini normally teaches evening fitness classes each week at Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center. Sidelined by an injury in December, she had expected to resume her classes in March but then COVID-19 hit and the facility was shut down. For several weeks, along with another instructor, she taught classes using an online platform. Then, when the weather improved, she began holding the free classes outside and in person.
“Group fitness is all about the camaraderie,” she said.”It’s not the same in front of a screen as it is in person.”
 In late-May, deciding that she could offer service to St. Vincent de Paul parishioners, she got permission from Fr. John Norman, pastor, to hold the classes in the church/school north parking lot. 
“I enjoy it, and I feel it’s one thing I can share with others,” she said. “If I can share it with others and make them happy, sharing that sense of community, that’s what’s important to me.”
The parking lot is large enough to accommodate even a large group while maintaining the social distancing recommendation for 10 feet apart for exercising.
Zanarini teaches two classes each week at the parish. These are open to anyone who would like to attend. On Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. participants of all fitness levels can enjoy an easy dance fitness class. On Thursday mornings at 7:15 a.m. Zanarini and her friend Elizabeth Rabon, another certified group fitness instructor, teach High Fitness, a class that can be modified for all levels. 
Class sizes run between six and 12 people, so there still is plenty of room for more people to join, she said.
Offering the classes for free when she would normally get paid “is just the right thing to do right now,” Rabon said. “Teaching High Fitness makes me happy and I think it brings happiness to other people.”
The class will continue at least until the end of July and possibly beyond, depending on pandemic conditions, Zanarini said. Although the recreation center has opened and classes there have resumed, with COVID-19 still spreading throughout the community both instructors say they do not yet feel comfortable returning. 
“I’m still not 100 percent comfortable teaching in an inside class where people are really sweating and breathing hard; it still frightens me just a little bit,” Zanarini said.
“I just don’t feel comfortable right now being inside teaching,” Rabon said. “I want people to enjoy it and I want to feel comfortable and I want to feel comfortable and I just feel like outside has a little more options right now. “
Linda Hoge, a senior who attends the classes and  is a regular member of Zanarini’s classes at the recreation center, feels the same way. 
“I’ll keep coming as long as she does it, because it’s such a lovely time,” she said of the classes Zanarini offers at St. Vincent’s. Being able to attend the class is tremendously valuable for Hoge. 
“First of all, I see people, and I don’t want to be in an enclosed place and being outside, this is just perfect,” she said. 
Zanarini’s daughter Sarah Diener, a student at the University of Arizona who is home for the summer, has been happy to take advantage of the classes.
“I got lucky; I just go to wherever she’s teaching,” she said.
Zanarini said several parish members have attended the classes and some have become regulars. She invites anyone who would like to exercise to join the classes.
 “It’s just a way to move and to get outside,” she said. “It’s also modifiable. Everyone is very friendly. It’s also a way to get together; to be socially distant but still see each other and have that connection.”  
For information, contact Zanarini at

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