Fitwell classes spur a flair for fitness
January 22, 2008
__Fitness-conscious students take advantage of various workout options__
p. Two years ago, Men’s Fitness magazine ranked the College 17th on its list of the nation’s most fit college campuses. However, two full years have passed since this ranking, raising the question, “Just how fit are we as a campus these days?”
p. With the fall 2006 opening of the renovated Recreation Center, the face of fitness at the College has changed. Numbers of students participating in activities through the Rec Center have increased.
p. The Rec Center estimates an 85 percent participation rate among the student population. This percentage reflects far more than the general use of workout facilities, encompassing intramurals, club sports, aquatics, outdoor recreation, the climbing wall and Fitwell. For a $45 fee, this program allows an individual unlimited acess to all Fitwell classes. The program has seen notable growth in student involvement.
p. Toppling previous participation records, interest in Fitwell peaked this year with the sale of over 300 Fitwell passes. This quantity results partially from the opening of two additional fitness studios, which has allowed the Rec Center to offer over 60 sessions, featuring 20 different classes weekly. The number of new sessions drastically eclipses the 30 to 40 per week offered before renovation.
p. Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness Jenny Ruehrmund is pleased to see more students getting involved in the Fitwell program. She believes that part of Fitwell’s popularity lies in the unique atmosphere that it offers.
p. “Fitwell classes add a fun group dynamic to fitness,” Ruehrmund said. “Adding music and friends to the workout makes fitness not only more motivating, but simply more enjoyable.”
p. She also mentioned that the many hybrid classes, such as boxilates, have consistently been in high demand. The program may include a class featuring Zumba, a recent fitness craze, as early as next fall. This class involves a combination of Latin dance rhythms mixed with a high-energy aerobic workout.
p. Tara Kalajian ’08 has worked for Rec Sports for the past three years as an instructor. She has dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to the Fitwell program, leading seven to eight classes per week. As a personal trainer and supervisor for special events and marketing, Kalajian immerses herself in an environment of fitness. She says the high energy and personable atmosphere fuels her passion for exercise.
p. “I’m hoping to use my experience at Rec Sports as a stepping stone to fitness in the professional world,” Kalajian said. “It’s my passion for exercise paired with the great work environment that has helped me to realize what I want to do once I graduate.”
p. For students drawn to more team-oriented fitness, the Rec Center offers 45 different club sports, including everything from basketball and rugby to sailing and ballroom dance. Club sports generally attract somewhere between 1,600 and 1,800 students annually.
p. More casual participants may seek the intramural sports program, which features seven team sports per year and 14 tournaments in sports such as mini golf, dodgeball and racquetball.
p. The minimal time commitment and fun, competitive atmosphere has always attracted great interest in the intramural sports program. Participation numbers generally reach approximately 1,500 students in the fall and 2,000 in the spring. Flag football usually has the highest participation rate.
p. The great outdoors of Williamsburg offers stiff competition to the popular Rec Center, as the beauty and accessibility of the area makes it a haven for fitness junkies. On any typical walk to class, the number of runners and bikers who pass by evokes enough guilt to make someone hit the gym, too.
p. Over 1,400 College students list some aspect of general fitness in their personal interests on their Facebook profiles. With the vibrant atmosphere of Colonial Williamsburg and the challenge of running trails, there is no reason for students to feel enslaved by the monotony of the treadmill. Jeanne Neal ’09 — who runs about 50 miles a week — echoed this sentiment.
p. “Before I transferred to William and Mary from Philadelphia, I never ran outside,” Neal said. “Once I got here, I knew I had to take advantage of the scenic campus. It motivates me to run, mostly because it helps me forget that I’m actually working out.”
p. Each year the Running Club attracts numerous dedicated members. Open to runners of all levels, the club focuses on distance running while introducing a flare for fun fitness. Whether organizing practices that end at Sno-to-Go or jogging in costume for Halloween, the club brings a sense of comraderie to an individual sport. “We’re all about doing something new; many of our members have been running for years and so we try to mix challenging workouts with some fun and creativity,” Running Club President Julie Barnes ’08 said.
p. A competitive runner himself, chemistry Professor Robert Hinkle has kept an observant eye on the Running Club, as well as area fitness in general. “My office overlooks Barksdale Field, so I see a lot of physical fitness taking place on campus, whether that be Ultimate Frisbee or casual runners,” Hinkle said. “We seem to have a fitness-minded campus here at William and Mary.”
p. Although he has trained with the varsity cross-country team in past years and has swapped race results with students, Hinkle’s passion for fitness extends beyond running. Over the years, he has become involved with mountain biking as well as rock climbing. He values the connections he has been able to make with students through this shared passion for fitness.
p. While the College’s prestigious ranking is something to be proud of, today’s environment of fitness at the College seems to transcend simple representation by number. With a renowned varsity athletic program, new Rec Center opportunities and a growth in the number of fitness-minded students, the College’s fitness level has acquired a depth of quality and diversity that cannot be quantified by any statistic.