Students step out of their comfort zones to sample group exercise courses
If the crowd of students filing into group exercise classes on the upper floors of the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) during the first week of the quarter sparked your interest, good — that’s exactly what Campus Recreation and Unions’ Fitness and Wellness was hoping for.
Try Before You Buy Week offered free access to Group Exercise and Instructional Series classes at the ARC, for a limited time from Jan. 4 to 10. The Fitness and Wellness Center facilitates the program at the beginning of each quarter, encouraging students to attend fitness classes and prioritize their overall health and wellness.
Brian Luu, assistant director of the Fitness and Wellness unit and facilitator of the Try Before You Buy program, said he understands the importance of wellness on a college campus. By incorporating ties with Student Health and Counseling Services and Student Housing, the unit strives for students to become healthy and happy by their own personal standards.
“In the industry, we get very hung up on fitness […] but that’s only a portion of ourselves as being well,” Luu said. “Our aim as a unit is to promote an outlet for students, and that can be physical wellness […] but we also want students to be able to look at [fitness] from different views, too.”
By promoting holistic well-being and offering a variety of classes, the center aims to dispel common fitness stereotypes and allow students to seek wellness in a way that benefits them. Try Before You Buy Week aims to bridge the gap between the Fitness and Wellness Center’s goals for student health with students of all fitness levels, who may or may not be familiar with group exercise.
“Instructional fitness includes our mind and body classes like yoga and pilates, […] martial arts, dance and small group training. We believe in giving people a chance to try [the classes] before buying,” Luu said. “Gyms can be intimidating sometimes, and we work so hard to dispel that. It allows people to try things at no risk, get to see our instructors [and] get exposed to what we hope is a positive environment for them.”
While the classes aim to introduce students to group exercise, the Try Before You Buy program provides various opportunities for students to pursue wellness, offering multiple genres of classes that are open to all fitness levels and are led by an instructor or trainer in a group environment.
“Our instructors and trainers are all trained to support [the Fitness and Wellness Center] mission,” Luu said. “A big expectation of them is to carry themselves in a professional manner […] so that way they are approachable, seem more down to earth, relatable. They are all trained to promote fitness and wellness in a way that is accessible to everyone.”
Lisa Bell, a third-year exercise biology major and Group Exercise cycle instructor, demonstrates the holistic goal of the Try Before You Buy program by encouraging students to seek out group exercise classes not only as a means to physical wellness, but as a key element in overall well-being that offers benefits beyond physical fitness.
“If you’re going to the ARC and you have a class, you have a system of people who are supporting you,” Bell said. “You have friends maybe […] and you have an instructor cheering you along the whole way so you don’t have to do it by yourself.”
Bell urges students to view fitness as an important aspect of college life that has essential benefits for both physical and social well-being. In addition to this, classes give students an opportunity to connect with fellow Aggies who are pursuing fitness as a means to a balanced lifestyle.
“Most of the people who go to the classes are […] students too. They’re trying to balance their life and fit fitness into their life with school, social and everything else,” Bell said. “Group exercise is social in and of itself, so you can get both […] at the same time.”
Drawn by the allure of wellness benefits, students seeking to take part in Try Before You Buy Week face the decision of what class or classes to attend. Cameron Vinoskey, a fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major and Group Exercise instructor, suggests that students should not be overwhelmed by the choice.
“Group exercise is probably one of the best ways to get involved if you want to start exercising but you’re not really sure what to do yet,” Vinoskey said.
Try Before You Buy classes provide an introductory experience to students who may not be familiar with fitness, but Vinoskey encourages all students to take part in the week-long promotion. In addition to providing a preview to less experienced students, the week also allows for students at higher skill levels to try new classes beyond what their typical fitness schedule might entail.
“Try Before You Buy is a great time to try something out of your comfort zone because you’re doing it for free and you’ll get all the basic instruction so you can decide if you want to do something new throughout the rest of the quarter,” Vinoskey said.
Particularly in winter quarter, Vinoskey recognized that many students pursue New Year’s Resolutions, which often include fitness and health goals that instructors are willing and excited to help with.
“When people start saying ‘Okay, New Year’s resolution, I’m going to go to the gym,’ but they get there and they see all this equipment, they don’t really know what to do with it,” Vinoskey said. “It’s intimidating to go into the gym by yourself, and group exercise is a really good way to bridge that gap.”
Students looking to purchase Group Exercise passes for the remainder of winter quarter can do so online for $25. Those who missed Try Before You Buy Week can still join a Group Exercise class throughout the remainder of winter quarter, and can anticipate the next round of free classes to begin in the spring. For students wondering what to bring to a fitness class of their choice, Bell has one final piece of advice.
“Bring a water bottle and a smile — that’s always nice,” Bell said.
Written by: Lindsay Billings and Emilie DeFazio – email@example.com