Jefferson’s Events Director Is Handling Social Distancing with Plenty of Virtual Yoga

Alyson Caplan, Jefferson's director of special events, is tuning in to classes with CorePower and practicing at-home sun salutations.

Alyson Caplan, Jefferson’s director of special events, is social distancing with yoga and long walks. / Photograph courtesy of Alyson Caplan.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one area resident to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email

Who I am: Alyson Caplan (@alysoncaplan), 48

Where I live: Dresher

What I do: I am the director of special events for Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.

What role healthy living plays in my life: I have been involved in some sort of exercise/sport my entire life, as I’ve always loved working out for both the physical and mental benefits. As a kid, I did gymnastics, skiing, tennis, and cheerleading, and now I do weight training, yoga, walking, swimming, hiking. It has also been very important to me to be a good role model for my kids, who are now 16 and 14. A lot of what we do as a family involves exercise!

Health memberships (and what they cost):


Caplan’s makeshift office. / Photograph courtesy of Alyson Caplan.

7 a.m. — Wake up. This is drastically different from my normal wake up, when I am not mandated to work from home. Four days per week, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. for a 5:15 a.m. workout before coming home to work with my husband, Jimmy, to feed the dogs, pack school lunches and get our 16-year-old, Sammy and 14-year-old, Anna, off to school. Then I am on a 7:37 a.m. train to Jefferson Station for an 8:30 a.m. start in my office at 9th and Sansom. While working from home, my commute consists of coming downstairs and sitting at my kitchen table!

7:30 a.m. — On my mat for my first CorePower Yoga virtual class. It was pretty good, though I miss the heat of the yoga studio and energy of the other yogis.

8:30 a.m. — I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee with coconut creamer. I typically stock up on coffee from Olde City Coffee, our fave. My team handles events for Jefferson’s Office of Institutional Advancement and this is our first day of virtual working. I spend the morning on calls with our immediate senior team and then with the full team. A few people are working on getting full access to files, but overall, everyone is up and running.

9:30 a.m. — I take a quick break to eat some plain, non-fat yogurt with fresh berries.

12 p.m. — I have a weekly call with my communications team colleague and we review where we are with communications (print and email) for event cancellations. I also have a snack of carrots and a single-serve guacamole.

12:30 p.m. — My kids are finally up and come downstairs for “breakfast.” Their schools do not have virtual learning yet, so they are happy to have a lazy day. My daughter basically FaceTimes with friends all day and watches Grey’s Anatomy. My son usually spends time outside.

2 p.m. — Lunch time. I always eat a late lunch because I typically don’t get home from work until 6:40 p.m., so I need something to get me through to dinner. Today I just have a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread and some pickles, which I eat in front of my computer.

3 p.m. — My husband and I are working across the kitchen table from one another. We get up and walk around when we have calls. So far, co-working is working!

3:30 p.m. — I am starting to feel a bit antsy so I go out for a long, three-and-a-half-mile walk.

4:30 p.m. — Back at the computer to finish out the work day.

5:30 p.m. — We all sit out front on our porch, talking about the craziness of what is happening, and wondering how long we will be working from home and how long the kids will be home from school. We are very thankful for the nice weather and hope it stays nice all week.

7 p.m. — I make dinner. The kids asked for lasagna, so lasagna is what they get! It will make for some good leftovers through the week, too.

8:30 p.m. — I get a call from a friend who is a fellow event professional. He asks me to participate in a webinar his company is putting on. I would just have to answer some question and email over my videos, nothing live. I can’t ever say no, so I agree, even though it is a bit out of my comfort zone.

9 p.m. — Shower and off to bed.

Daily total: $0


Caplan’s Tuesday night dinner. / Photograph by Alyson Caplan.

7 a.m. — Wake up. I spend the first part of the morning drinking coffee with coconut creamer, perusing social media, and reading up on what has transpired overnight. This situation is constantly changing!

8:30 a.m. — My work day officially begins. My morning is spent virtually checking in with my direct reports and a one-on-one with my VP. Everyone is ready for a busy day.

9:30 a.m. — Make two soft-boiled eggs, something I love but don’t always have time for. Mix a little bowl of berries to go with them.

10:30 a.m. — The kids are still sleeping. My two dogs finally wake up and come downstairs to go out and have breakfast. My husband and I work across the kitchen table from one another, with CNN on in the background to keep up with what’s going on.

2 p.m. — Finally have some time for lunch. I make a “spin” on an Israeli salad, though I don’t have parsley. I mix fresh tomato, cucumber, red onion, and celery with dressing made from olive oil, Prosecco white vinegar, garlic, seedy mustard, and lemon juice. I add a couple pieces of turkey breast. It’s delicious.

2:30 p.m. — Keep working, checking in with the kids (who are finally awake), and running from the dogs when they inevitably bark during calls.

3:30 p.m. — More work (now standing at my kitchen counter to mimic the standing desk I have at my office at Jefferson), along with “coaching” Anna while she makes homemade chocolate chip cookies. We were short on butter, but they turn out great. I snack just a little bit on raw cookie dough because how can you not? Also snack on some Biena chickpea snacks.

5:45 p.m. — Finish my work day and get ready to exercise.

6 p.m. — I decide to walk through a great neighborhood in Oreland that is super hilly. I typically walk at a pace of four miles per hour depending on lights and hills. If my knees are feeling good (tendonitis from years of over-use), I add in some jogging or sprinting. Today, I get in four miles!

7 p.m. — When I get home, I spend 20 minutes on some yoga flows, yoga stretches, and ab work.

7:30 p.m. — Make dinner with Jimmy. He grills pork loin and makes elbow pasta, and I roast broccoli. This is actually a regular mid-week meal for us. We grill all year round which makes life much easier!

9 p.m. — We spend some time hanging out, watching TV, and cleaning up.

10 p.m. — Shower, CBD cooling cream on my knees, and off to bed!

Daily total: $0


Caplan enjoys a walk with her son Sammy and two dogs. / Photograph courtesy of Alyson Caplan.

7 a.m. — Wake up, catch up on overnight news and social media, and get dressed.

7:45 a.m. — Make my usual coffee with coconut creamer, and get ready for an early work day.

8:15 a.m. — I filmed half of my questions for my friend’s webinar. It was a little nerve-wracking, but actually kind of fun!

9 a.m. — Eat some non-fat plain yogurt with berries. I usually add some flaxseed and dried hemp hearts, but I left both of them at work. So sad…

9:30 a.m. — Check-in calls begin and I continue to reschedule events. I’m going to finish up my webinar questions, too.

11 a.m. — I am hungry, so I snack on the leftover roasted broccoli from last night. I am pretty consistent with an 11 o’clock snack when I am working at the office. It’s usually carrots or snap peas with guacamole or hummus.

12 p.m. — Take my lunch hour to get in some movement. I take a body weight yoga sculpt class thanks to the CorePower yoga-on-demand website. Good workout!

1 p.m. — Back on the phone!

1:30 p.m. — I throw some lunch together: a mix of the (almost) Israeli salad from yesterday with leftover pork tenderloin and a quinoa and rice blend.

2:30 p.m. — I am starting to feel antsy and stressed, so I take the dogs for a quick spin around the block with Jimmy and Sammy. The sun is out and it feels really good. I get a call on the way back and spend the next hour or so on the phone with a colleague discussing an event we are rescheduling that looks like it will be bigger than expected. Do we limit attendees or look for another space? More unknown… my anxiety is definitely growing today!

3 p.m. — I do some work on a corrupt file that was being used for a mailing. Ugh. Between this and all of the rescheduling hassles, I’m really starting to feel stressed. I am so appreciative of my team. Times like this make you realize how important the people you work with are. Our communication has been amazing and we are all seeing each other through this crazy time.

4 p.m. — While I am working on some emails, I turn on Debbie Allen’s virtual dance class and dance along. I try to get my daughter to join me, but she wants no parts of it. I learn later that she was taking videos of me the whole time and snap chatting them to her friends!

4:30 p.m. — I would normally have a snack around this time, but my stomach is in knots from my anxiety.

5:30 p.m. — Finish up my work day and take advantage of the short commute to the couch to relax and watch the news.

6 p.m. — The news made me depressed, so I finally start Cheer on Netflix. It’s totally lifting my spirits! We decide to support a local business tonight, and order from a great local restaurant, Arpeggio.

6:30 p.m. — Finally showered. Working from home is messing up my schedule a bit, but at least I am taking them!

7 p.m. — Jimmy and Sammy picked up dinner ($149). I got the Mikonos chicken, which is a chicken breast with olives, capers, artichoke hearts, and onions over rice. I also drink a diet ginger ale to settle the nervous stomach.

9 p.m. — We all sit down to watch Modern Family. It’s one show that we almost always watch as a family and I am sad that it is ending.

9:30 p.m. — Head upstairs, get ready for bed, and read up on the spring equinox.

Daily total: $149


Another long walk completed! / Photograph by Alyson Caplan.

7:30 a.m. — Slept in, because, well, coronavirus. Happy spring equinox! I decide to celebrate with all 108 sun salutations. I have never done this before, but a yoga instructor from CorePower suggested it for a group. With social distancing in place, we can’t get together so I decide to take it on by myself and pepper them into my work day. I am planning for nine sets of 12.

8 a.m. — I make my coffee and do my first set of 12 Sun A’s. It takes just less than five minutes.

8:30 a.m. — Sit down at my computer for another day of event rescheduling. My work day used to be much more interesting that this! We had a couple of small events scheduled for this week — all canceled.

8:55 a.m. — Second set of Sun A’s.

9 a.m. — Jimmy made Irish oatmeal from scratch, which I mix with a little bit of brown sugar and blueberries. It’s super tasty! We have avoided putting on the TV so far today and the silence is nice… less stressful.

11 a.m. — I do my third set of Sun A’s. I am using backgammon pieces to keep track.

11:30 a.m. — Our team VP started a virtual rock, paper, scissor tournament — brackets and all! I play my first match and win. Woo!

11:55 a.m. — Fourth set of Sun A’s.

12 p.m. — Our team watches a webinar on online events to see if we can pick up any new ideas for how to approach this “new normal.”

1:40 p.m. — Fifth set of Sun A’s!

2 p.m. — I wasn’t quite ready for lunch, so I decide on a cheese stick and a few slices of sliced turkey pepperoni. Exciting work update: we confirmed a reschedule date for a big event originally scheduled for early May! Now I can spend time getting everything taken care of regarding contracts, confirming with the band, etc.

2:10 p.m. — Second round of virtual rock, paper, scissors — winner again!! This one was done over FaceTime with my colleague, Jenny, and her 11-month-old, Maeve.

3:25 p.m. — Third round of virtual rock, paper, scissors, and I win! I am on a roll. This is hilarious.

3:30 p.m. — “Make” a late lunch — leftovers from last night’s dinner. Continue with the work day.

4 p.m. — Sixth set of Sun A’s!

4:20 p.m. — Seventh set of Sun A’s. Definitely getting tired! The little five minute breaks from working are nice, though.

4:30 p.m. — Final round of virtual rock, paper, scissors — and I lose. Well, it was great fun all day.

4:45 p.m. — Finish up my work day for the next 45 minutes or so.

5:40 p.m. — Go out for my daily walk and aim for three-and-a-half miles, which I end up completing. While I’m walking, Jimmy goes over to The Fresh Market near us for some staple food items, plus stuff for dinner ($64.29).

7 p.m. — Finish the Sun A’s — finally!

7:30 p.m. — Dinner time! Jimmy makes a yummy stir fry with shrimp, steak, and lots of veggies. We add in a mix of rice noodles and soba noodles. After, we hang and watch TV.

9 p.m. — Shower, and off to bed!

Daily total: $64.29


Words of encouragement around Caplan’s neighborhood. / Photograph by Alyson Caplan.

7:30 a.m. — Slept in… no reason not to.

8 a.m. — Coffee with coconut creamer and sit down at my computer to start my day.

8:30 a.m. — Make two soft boiled eggs and add in some feta and parsley (I know, random) left over from my Jimmy’s take out dinner the other night.

9:30 a.m. — My first meeting is a weekly meeting with my immediate team. We are handling the large fundraising events at Jefferson. We run through our spring events, three of which are postponed until September and October, and one that was canceled altogether.

10:30 a.m. — Our VP announces that since today is International Day of Happiness, our WFH activity is to share photos of things that make us happy. I enjoy seeing babies, dogs, spouses, boyfriends, etc. I post a picture of my fresh flowers, lasting longer than I thought they would, as well as a couple of pics of my kids.

11:45 a.m. — Team meeting time. Our VP announces the Jefferson Better Together Covid-19 Fund, developed to help our front-line healthcare workers, as well as other employees and their families. I quickly donate and share on my Facebook page.

1 p.m. — It sounds like people are preparing for a mandatory stay at home, so Sammy and I venture out to Whole Foods to really stock up. We buy lots of veggies, frozen shrimp, chicken, ground turkey, lots of pasta and sauce, eggs, soup, and other things. It’s probably the fullest cart I have ever had at Whole Foods! ($503)

1:30 p.m. — We hit the Starbucks drive through and get a pound of coffee for both of us and one for my husband. I drink hot coffee from a drip coffee maker, and Jimmy and Sammy both drink iced coffee, made two different ways. We all need to make sure we don’t run out! We get Anna a grande acai berry drink and head home ($34).

2 p.m. — Eat some soup and catch up with work for the next few hours, as the work day and week starts to slow down, as it does every Friday afternoon.

5 p.m. — Head out for my now daily walk: 3.65 miles on a beautiful, sunny day. I see some kids with chalk writing inspirational messages for our area. This, combined with some signs of spring, bring me a little bit of hope.

6 p.m. — As I turn the corner to my house, I am super excited to see Jimmy and the kids sitting on our sidewalk and our neighbors across the street sitting on theirs. Everyone has a folding chair and a drink, aka social distancing happy hour!! A few more neighbors join and we all hang out at a distance for the next two hours. What a great way to end a stressful week!

8 p.m. — We have some pizza and salad for dinner.

9 p.m. — Out of the shower. I don’t make it even 10 minutes into the second episode of Cheer before I am sound asleep!

Daily total: $537

Weekly totals

Money spent: $750.29
Workouts completed: Four, plus all 108 sun salutations
Walks outside: Five

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