#EdisonEducators Encourage Exercise


COVID-19 has restricted the daily lives of students and administrators alike, forcing self-quarantining measures and social distancing. There has been a general decline in students’ physical and psychological well-being, but staff are not immune, either. Given the physical and mental challenges that staff have faced throughout the pandemic, a group of Edison district administrators–dubbed the #EdisonEducators–came together to form a Peloton exercise group focused on teamwork, cooperation, and a bit of friendly competition. 

Peloton is an exercise equipment company known for its stationary bikes. The company has also created an app so users can find exercise regimes or work out with a group. Started by Dr. Joan Valentine, the principal at John Adams Middle School in North Edison, this small group of three to four people soon grew to around a dozen.

The #EdisonEducators used this app to communicate and establish a workout routine every week. Although their schedules don’t always match up, their general time is Wednesday mornings before school. Some staff, such as EHS’ own Ms. Aurora Loufek and Ms. Kristen Tsaoys, wake up as early as 4 a.m. to get their workouts done.

“By 5 o’clock at the latest, the two of us [Loufek] are on, and we’re starting the ride that was chosen,” said Ms. Tsaoys. “ I’ve never been so happy and excited to go into the basement for that 10-minute ride.”

Mr. Robert Urbanovich, a counselor at J.P. Stevens High School, agrees with Ms. Tsaoys. 

“It’s not easy to wake up as early as we do and jump on the bike,” Urbanovich said, “but knowing that your teammates are going to make that commitment and be there and show up on that weekly basis pushes me to get on that bike.”

The teachers believe that consistent exercise every week has improved their mental health and encouraged them to persevere. Ms. Tsaoys used to go to the gym, and she was upset when gyms closed down during the pandemic. The Peloton group helped her get into a better mindset. 

“[The bike] was the best purchase I ever made,” she said.

 “I find that it’s a great stress relief to know that we have these Wednesday rides where we’re all gonna meet up,” said Ms. Loufek. “It’s healthy, competitive, we all try to be higher on the leaderboard—but it allows me to come in with a better mindset,”. Many of their rides are also tailored to help mental health, especially during a pandemic.

In addition to the mental health benefits, many members of the group praise the cooperation and teamwork fostered by their shared experience in the morning. The weekly morning rides encourage communication amongst the staff throughout the Edison district. 

Given the various benefits that the group says benefits the community of administrators at the Edison Public School District, the group hopes to continue the weekly Peloton exercises even after school fully reopens. Their schedule is already flexible; people can participate in the exercise in their own time. Its success among Edison staff has prompted Peloton to publish its own article about their experiences. Overall, the group intends to spread an active lifestyle and inspire others to stay active in the midst of the current online lifestyle. 

“This group allows us to branch out and connect in ways we’d never be able to do so before,” said Dr. Valentine. “It’s a fun way to keep connected and stay fit and healthy at the same time.”