Teaching classes, staying healthy

Professors balance classes with staying active

Daniel Newman, Sports Editor

When Seattle Pacific University announced on Thursday, March 12, that spring quarter would be held virtually, students were not the only ones having to scramble and panic. Professors had to figure out how to hold classes remotely and how a shorter quarter would affect their assignment schedule.


Even in quarantine, life remains busy. While students balance life with school work, professors do the same. With grading papers, recording lectures and spending time with and checking in on family and friends, life is stressful even while staying home.


Music professor and wind ensemble director Danny Helseth has an additional responsibility during the lockdown. As part of the Army National Guard, Helseth was activated to work at the Salvation Army food pantry in downtown Seattle. 


Even with the work, Helseth makes staying active a priority, using it to manage his stress levels. He bikes 15 miles round trip to the food bank, spends time training for a half-marathon, practices his rock climbing with a hangboard routine and just finished a 5,000 push up challenge. 


The hard thing for me is managing the rest/recovery days,” Helseth wrote in an email. 


In a stressful time like this, Helseth is leaning on staying active whenever he can.


“Physical activity is the best way for me to process stress. It gives me something else to focus on, and that’s always helpful,” Helseth said. “In all, it helps me to keep a certain amount of normalcy during these strange times.”


Another professor staying as active as possible is theology professor Jeff Keuss. Keuss is a crossfit coach and trainer at Stoneway Crossfit near SPU.


“The gym has been great about loaning out workout equipment once the stay-at-home order came into play, so I brought home dumbbells, kettlebells, plyo boxes for box jumps, and some weights and a squat rack,” Keuss wrote in an email.


Keuss has converted his garage into a home gym, and he and his family of five are working out everyday.


Some professors are using the time they have to be active with others, both virtually and with their family members. 


History professor Rebecca Hughes is meeting virtually with her Zumba class twice a week and is enjoying the connections she gets to make with her class members before and after each class. 


Jake Carlson, the Associate Director of the Business, Government, and Economics program, is missing the pickleball games he plays in Royal Brougham Pavilion with other SPU professors. But he is still finding ways to get outside, which helps him stay in a routine. 


“My wife and I have also made a goal of walking all of the streets in our neighborhood. Living on the south side of the hill, we made a map of the Queen Anne neighborhood on a piece of wood. After walking a street, we paint it on the map,” Carlson wrote in an email. 


Getting outside is not only a way for professors to stay physically and mentally healthy, but also spiritually healthy. Hughes said that seeing nature outside reminds her of the beauty of God’s creation. The beauty of the flowers and the trees makes spring her favorite season. 


For Keuss, being active and using the body that God has given him is a way to express worship. 


“As a theologian, I spend quite a bit of time working with students in class to remind them that they are unique, unrepeatable miracles of God and the gift of their bodies is something to steward and care for well,” Keuss said. 


“To be embodied means learning to move, to work, to serve and to rest in this great gift we have been given, and that means taking care of ourselves.”