KINGSTON, R.I. — Feb.24, 2021 –Majo Muentes, a University of Rhode Island student from Ecuador, began teaching in-person indoor group cycling classes at the University’s Anna Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center when she was a sophomore.
Then COVID-19 arrived, forcing her to stay in Ecuador. The pandemic prompted her to become an innovator to be able to continue her passion and motivate those in the URI community by conducting her classes remotely.
Muentes currently teaches 45-minute online classes every week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 8 p.m. for those at the Fascitelli Center and those at home. Those interested in taking her cycling class can register through the IMLeagues app or the IMLeagues website.
Muentes, a senior majoring in dietetics, has been committed to fitness and wellness since she was a teen. She was introduced to indoor cycling when she was 14 years old by her mother and fell in love with the effect it had on her.
“It made me feel so confident and inspired,” Muentes said. “I started doing better in all other aspects of life and became a more empowered person. So, I decided to get certified and teach other people so they can feel the same way.”
“This was my very first job,” she said about her URI cycling classes. “You don’t get to do a lot of part-time jobs in Ecuador, especially in your university, because there aren’t many,” Muentes said. “I’m lucky that I have been able to do what I love as my job for almost 4 years, despite the difficult circumstances we’re under.”
Denise Robbin, campus recreation/fitness and wellness specialist, added that on top of technical difficulties, the challenge with streaming indoor cycling classes is that many people don’t own or have access to an indoor bicycle. Those in the URI community can register for the class and take the sessions through their phones at the Fascitelli Center where masking and physical distancing guidelines are being followed.
“Right now, I mostly have one or two people in my class, but that too feels like a personalized class where you can focus on yourself. ” Muentes said. “Being able to help at least one person already is a big success for me because we’re still connecting and sharing that workout together.”
Muentes recalls struggling with a learning disability since she was young. She attributes indoor cycling as an important part of her lifestyle that helped her improve her academics and overall health.
“I take twice as much time to process information compared to others in my class,” said Muenets. “I used to be a soft-spoken person with a baby voice. This made me feel like I lit up. I started getting better at public speaking, being more disciplined and focusing in general.”
Muentes’ classes not only focus on fitness and wellness, but also on mindfulness, motivation, and self-love. She incorporates inspirational music, holds themed classes as well as connects with her clients outside of her class.
“It is not about just guiding people through a fitness course,” Muentes said. “It’s about connecting with people, making them feel strong, and positive so that they leave the class feeling a little better than they did when they walked in.”
Muentes is also a mentor for the Group Exercise Mentorship program, which helps students connect with current fitness instructors to observe and learn how to conduct their own fitness classes, after their training is complete.
“Because of COVID, some mentees may not be able to make it to in-person training and that’s why we’re grateful for instructors like Majo live-streaming their class,” Robbin said. “Even if they don’t own a bike where they are, they can always observe and learn how to conduct an online fitness class.”
Edhaya Thennarasu, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and Communications major, wrote this press release.