Classes offer fitness in fun atmosphere

Story and Photo by Sarah LeBlanc

groupfit-w2000-h2000At Drake University, there is more to exercise than staying physically fit.

Emphasizing a social environment, group exercise classes take place in the Bell Center six days out of every week.

Students, faculty, and members of the community are welcome to any class and prior experience is not required.

Classes offered include Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Hardcore and Bootcamp and are instructed by Drake students and faculty.

Group exercise classes work to provide an outlet for stress release for Drake students as the spring semester draws to a close.

Available through finals week in May, group fitness encourages students to use the added benefit of social interaction in each class as a mental and physical motivator to stay active.

“(Group exercise) can help (students) establish healthy habits, and it can turn them on to fitness,” said Johanna Determann, assistant wellness director at Drake.

Determann has been at Drake for six years and oversees the group exercise program.

At Drake, group fitness allows participants to experiment with unique and social forms of exercise like Zumba or Bootcamp that they may not be able to experience during a solitary workout.

“The group exercise program gives people the opportunity to try things they may not have tried otherwise,” Determann said. “It gives you an opportunity to leave your comfort zone.”

Ailey Carroll, a fifth-year pharmacy major and group fitness instructor of Bootcamp, Hardcore and Yoga, emphasized the accountability group exercise classes place on individuals to encourage them to exercise consistently.

“If you put something on your schedule you’re more likely to follow through with it,” Carroll said.

While working out independently may become routine, group exercise creates a social environment that adds a new level of intensity to the workout every week.

“It keeps (people) from getting tired of the same old same old,” Carroll said. “They’re more likely to be excited about their fitness.”

Jamie Zaine, a first-year business major, regularly attends Zumba classes for the added encouragement of a social atmosphere.

“It’s easier to just stop when you are exercising by yourself,” Zaine said. “Group exercise is great because you have someone to motivate you.”

In addition to encouraging participation through social connection, Wellness Director Jana Peterson emphasized the rewards group exercise classes offer for individuals who commit to attending a specific number of classes each semester.

“We have a program called Move More, which is an incentive to come to class in the first place and then to keep coming,” Peterson said. “This semester it’s if you attend 15 classes, you will earn a fanny pack.”

In previous years the reward has been a T-shirt for attending 20 classes, but Peterson moved the requirement down because many individuals were narrowly missing the mark.

Rather than creating an individualized workout routine, instructors guide students through the class by continuously offering suggestions for improvement.

“You can take everything at your own level, but you’re never really by yourself,” Carroll said. “You have somebody there to tell you where you should be or how to do better.”

Group exercise classes take place at a scheduled time each week in the Bell Center and are free for students and faculty.

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