Group Exercise Classes:
Many students have rolled up their yoga mats after the page where they once signed up for fitness classes went blank. Group exercise classes at the Athletic and Wellness Center (AWC) have vanished, but thankfully, this change is not permanent.
Due to staffing issues, the center has been unable to offer exercise classes to students this semester. Over the summer, the previous assistant and associate directors of the department of Wellness & Recreation moved on to other opportunities, leaving the AWC with no one to supervise the instructors of fitness classes. Instructors of classes such as cycling, yoga, pilates and mixed martial arts are unable to teach students without someone to approve their lessons and make sure they’re safe.
“We have a national search going on. We’re looking for the best candidate,” Renee Bostic, Director of Athletics, Wellness and Recreation said. “Fingers crossed it’s sooner rather than later, hopefully sometime before the end of the semester.”
While there’s hope for a new director in the near future, there is no promise or set time frame that one might be hired. Many students are left in the dark about what happened to their afternoon or evening workout and haven’t been able to find something to supplement this activity.
“I noticed right away. When I got back, I was like, ‘I’m so ready to go back to my little class,’ and I was like, ‘where is it? Where did it go?’” said Maya Martinez, second-year communication disorders major.
The cycle room that once regularly hosted energetic students now sits dark within the halls of the AWC. Classes in the AWC gave a routine to students, improved their mental wellbeing and provided social and physical outlets for them.
“I’m kind of annoyed because it was the one thing at the end of the day, instead of just going in my little hole, I’d just go out and do something good like a little yoga, but I can’t do that,” Martinez said.
In the meantime, the AWC has started leaning into factors they can control, such as new gym equipment and a focus on intramural sports. While the hiatus in the class schedule is disappointing for many, the AWR department looks forward to expanding their services once they’re back up and running. With a new director, the AWC could potentially expand their class options and adjust the schedule to accommodate the needs of students.
“I’m really excited for this new director to come on board because I think this is a great time for us to reevaluate how we’re doing things,” Bostic said. “Our students really thrive on the activities that we offer, so we want to bring someone in who’s going to continue to build our program up.”
In collaboration with the Center for Student Success (CSS), the Athletic and Wellness Center is expanding its scope beyond athletics by offering tutoring sessions within the building.
The Athletics, Wellness and Recreation initiative began on Sept. 14, welcoming in students eager to learn. Students are given the opportunity to work with staff one-on-one or in groups to improve their writing and study skills as well as review material for exams and classes. Until now, this service has only been offered in room B106 of Old Main, where the CSS’ main office resides.
The idea was born at the end of the spring 2023 semester and has been made possible by the Vice President of Enrollment Management Stella Turk, the CSS, and the AWR department. The CSS has updated their website and the AWC put it out to their athletes and on TV’s within the center.
“A lot of the athletes are obviously super busy. They have a lot going on, so giving them the opportunity to get tutoring services right in their area instead of having to come all the way across campus was also really important for them,” said Kristen Fanfarelli, director of the CSS.
Though it is a plus, this new location goes far beyond serving just athletes. It provides convenience and extra help to students who don’t want to make the walk to the bottom floor of Old Main.
“Tutoring usually happens after four or five o’clock. Most of the folks in these dorms are not walking back to the other side of campus, and they’re also coming in to work out. So what better way than, you know, get a workout in, go get math tutoring?” Bostic asked.
This initiative lends to the AWC’s goal to expand its horizons and services. According to Bostic, the AWC averaged 450 patrons per day last academic year. With the sheer volume of people the AWC serves as well as the space it holds, the building has the capacity for multiple programs and services for a plethora of students.
“We just want people to look at the AWC as an all-encompassing space, right? Not just that you have to come work out,” Bostic said.
This step on the AWC’s journey to becoming a “one-stop shop” has already been successful. Subject tutor and peer coach for the CSS, Monica Ilieva, has been happy with the amount of students that have come to sessions at the AWC.
“Students come and it’s just a different environment and it’s nice to change things up. Psychologically, there is evidence that it’s good for students to actually be learning in different environments. That’s one of the best [ways to] absorb information,” Ilieva said.
Although there are no specific plans yet, the CSS may expand even further in the future.
“Our services this year have been utilized on a really grand scale,” Fanfarelli said. “Having those extra locations will be super helpful in the future just to make sure that we’re covering as many students as possible that need help.”
“Our goal is to make sure students can get through their degrees and do it with as little stress as possible, so making sure that we’re using all the tools that we possibly can to do that is really what we’re after right now. We’re just happy to do that over there.”