BY KRISTEN MILLER
For students beginning fresh on New Year’s resolutions or looking for new ways to add physical activity into their lives, group fitness classes provide a departure from endless treadmill miles or for those in a gym routine rut.
“The growing interest in health and fitness in our culture has been a good influence,” said Kjersti Maday, MSUM junior and group fitness participant who recently went through training to become a Body Pump instructor. Maday said that when making the decision to get certified, “I had a lot of encouragement from the instructors at MSUM.”
The Russell and Ann Gerdin Wellness Center offers students a variety of group fitness options. Classes are held each day, adding up to 40 classes per week. With start times ranging from 7 a.m. to 8:15 p.m., the group fitness schedule is designed to accommodate busy students.
“We gear it towards them,” said Charmaine English, coordinator of fitness and special programs at the Wellness Center. English said they’ve tried to create a schedule of the classes students want, when they want them.
Classes at the center include familiar favorites like yoga and Pilates and new, intriguing options like Spinsanity, Ab Attack and Butts & Gutts.
“Body Pump, for sure,” said Maday when asked her favorite group fitness class. “It’s always a fun environment.”
Ashley Van Beek, MSUM junior who has worked at the Wellness Center for more than two years says that she hears positive reactions from students who participate in group fitness.
“The classes give them the opportunity to work out with a friend or a group of friends,” Van Beek said, adding that she has gone to group fitness classes herself. “It is so much fun and a really good workout.”
MSUM junior Tressa Theis hadn’t tried group fitness before coming to college, and has participated in both Spinsanity and yoga classes on campus. She appreciates the welcoming environment for beginners, and the instructors’ directions when jumping into an unfamiliar exercise.
“She really explained the proper form,” Theis said about her Spinsanity instructor. “She’ll push you, but it’s worth it.”
According to English, Zumba, yoga and Body Pump see the biggest turnout.
You don’t have to be an expert to try out a new group fitness class. Participants of all skill levels and experience are welcome.
“Any student can come,” Maday said. “We’re trained to teach beginners.”
English agreed: “All group exercise instructors, all good ones, know modifications.”
These modifications come in a variety of forms, such as lighter weights or different forms of moves taught in class. Instructors accommodate participants who may not be familiar with proper form or not ready to tackle heavy weights.
Both Maday and English enjoy group fitness for its motivational qualities. “What I like is that everyone is encouraging,” Maday said. “Everyone has their own fitness goals, but you realize that you’re all there for the same thing.”
“Working out on your own can be really boring and blah sometimes,” English said, adding that what makes group fitness different is, “the accountability factor. It’s the fun factor.”
For students on a budget, all group fitness classes are covered in the fees students pay to keep the Wellness Center open.
“It ends up being about $20 per month,” said English, pointing out the difficulty of finding another fitness venue that provides similar services for a comparable price.
English encourages students to get involved with the Wellness Center and suggests an easy way to do so right around the corner.
One of the most popular classes is about to be celebrated in a big way. There are no dates set yet, but be on the lookout for a Zumba event in February. Students will be entered to win free gear for each Zumba class they attend, with a drawing taking place later in month.
More information about the Wellness Center can be found on their page on MSUM’s website, and for all the latest check out their page on Facebook.