Free fitness attracts students to IMPE

By Smita Krishnaswamy

University students are flocking to IMPE to try out fitness classes and learn to keep themselves in shape.

The Division of Campus Recreation is offering group fitness classes free of charge until Jan. 31, 2005. Some classes offered are Pilates, Step and Crunch, Power Yoga, kickboxing and Ab lab. The classes, 30 minutes to an hour long, are conducted at various locations inside IMPE.

But the classes have been so packed for the last few weeks that students have been turned away due to lack of space or equipment.

Nija Joshi, senior in engineering, said she was discouraged by the crowded gym when she attended the step class on the first day of school this semester.

“I’ll probably go again sometime, but if you lose your enthusiasm the first time, it’s difficult to go again,” she said.

The Division of Campus Recreation offers free sessions periodically, but has been unable to for the past two years due to budget cuts.

“We can’t justify offering free classes when there is a state budget cut,” said Janet Kroencke, assistant director of fitness at the Division of Campus Recreation.

Some students who experienced the sessions for the first time had a positive impression of them.

Katie Marquardt, freshman in FAA, heard about the sessions through her friends and decided to try out the Step and Crunch class.

“It was fun, upbeat and kicked my ass,” Marquardt said. “The instructor was really easy to follow and had good energy.”

Lindsay Ellch, freshman in LAS, has tried Pilates sessions before, but said she liked the step session better.

“Pilates has a bigger focus on breathing, and you don’t really know if you’re doing it correctly,” Ellch said.

Ellch found out about the group fitness sessions when she visited IMPE last semester, and saw a fitness schedule. She purchased a year-long pass last semester, which allowed her to attend 30 sessions for $50.

This semester, however, a yearlong pass will allow students to attend an unlimited number of sessions for $50. Students can also purchase individual session passes at the price of $3, which has been reduced from $5 last semester.

Kristin Brouillet, a University graduate student, said the unlimited feature is intended to encourage people to attend sessions of all lengths and types, when previously they may not have wanted to waste one pass on a half-hour Ab Lab session.

The Division of Campus Recreation tries to offer classes that students might want while introducing them to new things they might not have seen before, Kroencke said.

“We try to offer what the industry produces,” she said.

Brouillet said she got one of the ideas for a new fitness offering, Play Ball, from a conference she attended recently. Play Ball involves using medicine and stability balls for an energetic strength and cardio workout, and has already attracted the attention of Ellch, who is planning on trying it.

The Division of Campus Recreation hires fitness trainers to facilitate the sessions through interviews every semester based on staff needs. Kroencke said students do not need prior experience, just a willingness to learn.

“They go through extensive training once they are hired,” she said. “Campus Rec tries to offer students an opportunity to learn and grow and enhance their experience on campus.”

Alexis Lorinskas, junior in LAS, has been facilitating fitness sessions for a year. She said she participated in many sessions prior to facilitating and really enjoyed them.

“It’s a nice way to meet people, and really enjoyable,” she said.

Lorinskas said the sessions tend to be really full at this time of year because of New Year’s resolutions and spring break plans. She also says the free sessions are a big motivator for people to attend the classes.

“So many people just don’t want to pay,” she said.

Kroencke said the Division of Campus Recreation has done its best to get the word out about the free sessions and changes in pricing for the fitness sessions.

“There are a lot of programs offered on campus, so it’s hard to get students to know about every program offered,” she said.

The Division has no specific plans to improve marketing the fitness sessions. Kroencke said the Division also wants to be able to accommodate demand.

“Free week is obviously successful because we’re having to turn people away from sessions,” she said.

Brouillet said a lot of people just don’t know about the free sessions or changes in pricing for the fitness sessions.

“You can market until your hair falls out, but people don’t always listen,” she said.