Beats pulse and participants sweat as student-led group fitness classes offer those on campus an opportunity to take charge of their personal physical wellness, an important element of health that can easily be neglected for other college life priorities.
“As college students we are under stress all the time making deadlines,” said University of Maryland freshman Nicole Turchi, who works for Campus Recreation Services (CRS) as a group fitness instructor. “It’s really easy to let workouts be totally overlooked.”
Physical wellness depends on physical activity, such as exercise, and a proper diet. Proper physical wellness begins with regular physical activity and thrives from a personal dedication and initiative to get in shape, according to the National Wellness Institute.
The wide-range of group fitness classes offered by CRS at three facilities on campus — Eppley Recreation Center (ERC), The School of Public Health (SPH) and Ritchie Coliseum — provide college students exciting workouts to meet their specific physical wellness needs.
“It’s easier to want to work out when you’re in a room full of people who are doing it and the music is loud,” said University of Maryland junior neurobiology and physiology major Ashley Demory. “When you want to stop and you look around and you’re the only one stopping, you think ‘I can keep going.’ If everyone else can do it, I can keep doing it too.”
It is critical for college students to care about and work toward proper physical wellness with the prevalence of life altering and health damaging diseases that could easily be prevented by appropriate physical wellness.
More than one third of American adults, about 35.7 percent, are obese. In 2010, Maryland had a state obesity rate of 27.1 percent and failed, as did every state in the U.S., to meet the Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity can lead to a variety of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure and gallstones, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A preventative measure and a potential treatment for obesity is regular physical exercise, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
An ideal form of exercise for college students is a group fitness class, such as the immensely popular Zumba or BODYPUMP, suggested Demory who frequently attends both classes.
“Having the group fitness class, you have a workout planned out for you, you have that group atmosphere and you have someone there motivating you every step of the way,” said Turchi, a kinesiology and dance major. “It’s like a commitment.”
In 2001 Zumba, described on the official Zumba Fitness website as a “Latin-inspired dance party,” arrived in the U.S. Today, there are eight Zumba specialty programs taught worldwide, according to the website. CRS offers the classic Zumba Fitness.
“I like Zumba because it’s fun and you actually don’t realize that you’re working out until 50 minutes later when you’re sweating,” said Demory.
After a cardio workout from Zumba there is BODYPUMP to work on strength training with weights. “BODYPUMP is my favorite now because you’re working on weights,” said Demory. “You’re strengthening and toning.”
During BODYPUMP, ten tracks blast from speakers as motivation for participants to keep up the reps as they work eight different muscle groups, according to the BODYPUMP website. BODYPUMP debuted on campus in January 2012. Turchi plans to receive certification to teach BODYPUMP in the fall.
Beyond the important factor of enhancing physical wellness, routine exercise, such as group fitness classes, provides a stress reliever for college students who are bogged down with exams, part-time jobs or extracurricular responsibilities.
“I’m stressed a lot because my major involves so much work,” said Demory. “Going to the gym is a stress reliever; not only am I getting myself in shape physically, but I’m releasing endorphins, which lowers stress.”
College students have a personal responsibility when it comes to physical wellness, according to Turchi.
“Unless you personally want it, it’s not going to happen,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if someone is yelling in your face to do certain things; it’s on you.”