Harlingen offers virtual exercise, art classes

HARLINGEN — Although the coronavirus pandemic has caused a temporary closure of gyms and most parks, fitness fanatics can still break a sweat and add a sense of normalcy to their daily routine.

The Harlingen Parks and Recreation Department is offering free virtual fitness classes that are being conducted by a variety of fitness instructors.

“Since we’re promoting the shelter in place, it’s a good opportunity for kids and adults to have something to do since they’re in their homes,” Harlingen Parks and Recreation director Javier Mendez said.

From zumba and yoga to boot camps, several classes are conducted and posted to the Harlingen Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page Monday through Friday.

“They have different times and different dates so anybody that’s interested can go to the City of Harlingen website and then to Parks and Rec and there’s a schedule there,” Mendez explained. “We also upload videos on Facebook for people that want to do exercise at their own pace and whenever they want to.”

Fitness instructor Cindee Cantu Cantu is teaching free sit and fit, pilates and stretch and toning classes on Facebook Live.

“All of my classes are low-impact,” Cantu said. “I share beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts.”

Cantu said she’s noticed an increase in class participants.

“I’m enjoying it so much,” Cantu said. “I love what I do.”

Cantu said she teaches participants of all ages and backgrounds.

“I have dentists, doctors, teachers, mothers, retirees and all different walks of life,” she explained. “The beauty is that we all have one thing in common — we’re all looking for a better and healthy lifestyle.”

For Cantu, teaching these classes is more than just helping people exercise.

“A lot of people are under so much stress right now that I have found more people texting me on messenger and they share things that they’re going through in their life,” she said. “So I’m able to help them and calm them down because everything’s connected.”

Cantu explained that exercise allows the brain to release chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins, which helps release stress.

“If people can find 10 or 30 minutes or even an hour out of their day to take time for themselves, they will feel centered and complete,” Cantu said. “It’s self-love and so important because we need it.”

More virtual learning

Mendez said in addition to the fitness classes, the Parks and Recreation Department is creating artistic virtual activities as well.

Since April 9, creative exploration art classes have been available for purchase and are conducted through Zoom on Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Participants may use a variety of art tools during the class such as pencils, permanent markers, watercolors or acrylic paint.

For more information or to register, visit https://tinyurl.com/s78kz85.

Additionally, the department is offering online cooking classes provided by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

To participate in the cooking classes, visit https://agrilifelearn.tamu.edu/ and use the free registration code “EXPLORECOOKING.”

In the four-lesson course, participants will learn new recipes and cooking techniques from diverse cultures.