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Getting Fit

By Schuyler Clemente ’07

Students this year have been flocking to Get Fit Smith, a new Athletic Association-sponsored series of unusually varied noncredit fitness classes, including yoga, swing dancing and kickboxing. The classes give students a chance to reduce stress and relax while meeting new people and trying new types of exercise.
According to Athletics Facilities and Recreation Manager Theresa Collins, who, as adviser to the Athletic Association oversees the Get Fit Smith program, the classes are extremely popular. Collins specifically cited an intensive abdominal workout class called Awesome Abs, which consistently attracts about 90 walk-in participants for each class.

“It’s been a tremendous success,” says Collins. “It’s way beyond my expectations.”
The idea of Get Fit Smith was born at the end of last year, Collins explained, when the Athletic Association was searching for an alternative to the failing intramural sports programs. They noted large waiting lists for the for-credit yoga and pilates classes as well as a fourfold increase in gym attendance since the opening of the Olin Fitness Center last January. The Athletic Association decided to respond to the increased demand for exercise options on campus.

“I think we’re in a fitness craze,” notes Collins.

The Athletic Association came up with the idea of noncredit workout classes in up-and-coming areas of fitness so students could pursue different areas of interest without making a serious commitment. The class options have included Awesome Abs, introductory yoga and pilates.

“It’s a fun fitness class that you can bring your friends to,” says Becky Spalding ’06, president of the Athletic Association. “You can come here if you get your work done or you need a study break.…It’s a lot less pressure knowing that you don’t have to keep a schedule.”

The classes, which are open to alumnae, faculty and staff in addition to students, are all taught by professional instructors who are certified in their areas of expertise. Local professionals, exercise and sport studies (ESS) graduate students and members of the athletics and ESS departments have all taught Get Fit Smith classes.

“I’ve heard great things from everyone who’s been going,” says Spalding.

Molly McCadden ’07 started attending the Get Fit Smith yoga classes during the spring semester. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get exercise, and it’s free,” she points out. “I heard it was laid back and good for all skill levels.”

McCadden has enjoyed her Get Fit Smith experience so far, and hopes to continue through the end of the semester. “I liked that it was relaxing and it felt good, but it was challenging, too. It was a good combination of both.”

Collins is happy to be sharing her passion for fitness with the campus community. “I take yoga four or five times a week, and I’ve found it to be so good for me that I wanted to share it with the students,” she explains. “I wish I discovered yoga 20 years ago, when I was in college.”

Two sessions of Get Fit Smith have been held each semester, and with each new session the Athletic Association has increased the number of class options. Get Fit Smith has also sponsored a few one-time events, such as “Let’s Dance,” four dance workshops in October 2004 that taught students different styles of dancing like hip-hop and swing.

Get Fit Smith received initial funding from the Athletic Association and the Office of the Dean of the College, and it also received funds from the chapel because its activities contribute to students’ spiritual wellbeing. The program was only supposed to last for one semester, but it has proved to be so popular that it was continued into the spring. Though this year’s Get Fit Smith program is only a pilot, both Collins and Spalding hope to see it continue next year. “It’s a good thing on campus because it promotes healthy alternatives and a healthy lifestyle.…People and their friends benefit from it,” notes Spalding. “I think it’s provided better options of spending your afternoons.”

Collins also sees the campus benefiting from the Get Fit Smith program. “It didn’t take much to get it off the ground, so obviously there was a need for it,” she says. “Our goal is to continue to be a happy, healthier and more health-conscious community here at Smith.”

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