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Sweat for Support: Alex Aust and other pro athletes fundraise through online fitness classes

“Through playing lacrosse, I’ve found that nothing bonds and lifts people up more than sweating together.”

That was professional lacrosse player Alex Aust’s reasoning behind starting Sweat for Support, a zoom fitness series designed to raise money for various causes through donation-based, online fitness classes.

“I was hosting free live workouts on my Instagram and was hearing a lot of positive feedback. I wanted to use my platform to influence all of those people to do what we love doing so much, but for causes greater than ourselves,” Aust said.

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In addition to being a midfielder with the WPLL Pride, Aust is also a yoga instructor and fitness trainer. With the help of her her fellow athletes and trainers she started the campaign on April 7. Since its launch, Sweat for Support has featured a variety of athletes and fitness instructors like Sara Hancock and Kelly Berger and has raised more than $6,500 for a variety of causes such as Ronald McDonald House, the Ocean City, Maryland community and other local initiatives.

“I am so lucky to know many amazing athletes and coaches so when filling the roster of instructors that was the easy part,” Aust said. “I wanted each instructor to pick the causes that their efforts would be donated to so that it was special and unique to each of us.”

“Alex came up with the idea to use our platforms and parlay that into supporting causes that need our help during this pandemic,” professional lacrosse player and Atlas LC attackman Rob Pannell said.

“Since she started, I’ve been seeing more and more types of campaigns, but I feel like Alex was one of the first to do it,” Pannell added. “She said she wanted to do it and took the initiative.”

Pannell is another athlete who quickly jumped on the opportunity to join the movement. He saw it as an opportunity to support two organizations that he’s passionate about: Robke’s Country Inn and One Love Foundation.

“Robkes is one of my favorite restaurants and I’ve been supporting them a lot during this time. They’ve been receiving a ton of support, so they started donating meals to New York law enforcement and healthcare workers,” Pannell said. “Any way I can help support our frontline workers during this pandemic is the least I can do.”

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The other cause Pannell is supporting, One Love Foundation, educates young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships and aims to aid them in identifying and avoiding abusive relationships. The foundation was started in honor of University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love, who was a victim of an abusive relationship that resulted in her tragic death at the hands of her ex-boyfriend.

“I’ve been supporting the [One Love] foundation for the past seven years or so and I remember the impact Yeardley’s death had on the community and specifically my former teammate Austin Boykin, who was a friend of Yeardley. He encouraged me to get involved and it’s a cause that I’ve been passionate about ever since.” Pannell said.

Pannell’s fundraiser class takes place on Saturday, May 2—a day before the 10-year anniversary of Yeardley Love’s death. One Love Foundation will hold an Instagram Live event on Sunday, May 3 at 3pm EST to honor Love’s memory. The event concludes the foundation’s month-long MOVEment, Yards for Yeardley.

“We are so grateful to Rob for promoting our mission and fundraising efforts.  He is a positive leader and is making a difference on and off the field,” said Sharon Robinson, cousin of Yeardley Love, Chair of One Love, and head girl’s lacrosse coach at Bronxville High School in New York. “His efforts to raise awareness while doing something fun, like with Sweat for Support, helps us reach more people faster to further conversations about relationship health.”

Sweat for Support’s mission is twofold. In addition to raising money for a variety of causes, Aust and her fellow athletes have also given people an opportunity partake in fitness classes with some of their favorite pros.

“So many people have different ways of handling this pandemic, but one thing we all know is we are in this together,” Aust said. “The response has been incredible. I am overwhelmed with how much our communities have pitched in to make a difference in others’ lives.”

Upcoming Classes

  • Saturday, May 2 at 10am EST – Rob Pannell’s “Body Weight Bootcamp” (supporting Robke’s Country Inn and One Love Foundation)
  • Saturday, May 9 at 12:30pm EST – Monica Jones’s “Roll with the Punches” (supporting Direct Relief)
  • Sunday, May 10 at 12pm EST – Kyle Hartzell (Supporting Project Kenny)
  • Saturday, May 16 at 10am EST – Kallie House’s Full Body HIIT with Music workout (supporting Save with Stories)

To donate and register for Rob Pannell’s class, as well as any of the campaign’s remaining classes, visit Sweat For Support’s website or donate directly by sending the $20 donation along with your email to @RobPannell on Venmo.

Hutton Jackson is a professional video editor, co-founder/host of Pro Lacrosse Talk and editor-in-chief of Lacrosse Playground. He is also an Emmy-winning associate producer with two major sports networks and oversees Lacrosse Playground's video content as the head coordinating producer. Hutton played four years of college lacrosse at DeSales University where his highest lacrosse accolade was being named to Inside Lacrosse's 2014 All-Name Team with current pros Challen Rogers, Deemer Class and Larken Kemp, an honor that didn't require stepping on the field. When he's not writing on lacrosse, he can usually be found diving around the crease in your local men's league and ranting about Baltimore and D.C. professional sports.

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