Get up, stand up: Array of fitness options available to campus

BGSU faculty and staff are beginning the new year with both a clearer idea of the state of their health and some new ways to improve it.

“We had more than 600 faculty and staff complete the health assessments last fall,” said Cathy Swick, associate director of the Student Recreation Center (SRC). “It was more than we expected.”

The free assessments, which were offered through Human Resources to full-time employees, were part of a wellness initiative designed to help the campus community improve its health and reduce health-care costs. By making everyone aware of their “numbers”—such as blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index—the assessments offered a good starting point to work from and, for some, a “wake-up call” that they need to pay more attention to their health.

The SRC is continuing the wellness effort with some new programs, including the “New Year’s Resolution” membership. For $99, campus and community members can join for the duration of the academic year and take advantage of group exercise classes, the swimming pools and all the other facilities, plus the FitWell center that offers individual guidance and assessments. Personal trainers are also available, for an additional fee.

Employees can tone up during their lunch break or after work, in addition to weekends.

“The Rec Center has something for everyone,” said Dr. Stephen Langendorfer, a kinesiologist in the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies who has lost 30-35 pounds. “I managed to lose the weight and keep it off two years by combining Weight Watchers at Work with swimming,” he said. Langendorfer, who is at the pool every day at 6 a.m. for the BGSU Master Swim Program, said, “Moderate exercise tends to have a weight suppression effect as well as bumping up your caloric expenditure.”

But he also pointed out that, despite his commitment to swimming, “walking is the absolute best way to lose weight. Those 10,000 steps a day we hear about really are the most successful way to lose, as documented by research. Walking is low impact and low cost. And the noon-hour walking track in the Eppler South gym is always free to everyone.”

Langendorfer offered several recommendations for getting in shape:

• Find something that works for you and that you enjoy, whether it’s badminton, biking, basketball, volleyball, calisthenics or anything else. You need to feel comfortable with whatever activity you choose.
• Don’t beat yourself up about being overweight or not in the best shape. Just get out there and do it. Schedule regular exercise, i.e., three-five days a week, and build in motivation.
• Having a couple of exercise partners is a great motivator. On days when you’re tempted to skip your exercise, knowing that another person is there can help get you going. “There’s a strong social element to any kind of exercise,” he said.
• Be sure to stick with whatever you choose for four-six months. That’s how long it takes to develop any habit. Research shows that the “magic cross-point” at which the body gets in shape enough to enjoy working out and the habit kicks in occurs at about 16 weeks, Langendorfer says.
• Consider cross-training with one or more secondary activities to avoid boredom and increase overall fitness.

“Once you get in the habit—of the right kind of eating and the right kind of exercise—there’s a real pleasurable feeling that kicks in,” Langendorfer says. “There’s the psychological boost you feel for the rest of the day of ‘You did good today.’ But there’s also the physiological feeling to remind you.”

Zumba your way to fun and fitness
The recreation center now offers classes in the latest style of aerobic dancing sweeping the nation: Zumba. Based on Latin/Caribbean dance styles and rhythms, Zumba is an exhilarating, high-energy way to work off pounds and build strength. The name comes from a Colombian word meaning to move fast and have fun. MSNBC estimated last year that a million Americans had taken a Zumba class.

“We say, ‘Forget the workout and dance,’” said teacher Michelle Cook, a certified Zumba instructor. Cook, a graduate student in biology, leads classes twice a week, which are included in the price of recreation center membership.

Though the Zumba exercises are intensive, the high-impact routines can be modified to fit any level of fitness. Incorporating steps from the merengue, rumba, salsa, mambo and numerous other familiar dances, the routines are driven by the rhythms of the music and move from slow to fast and back, working the total body. “Be sure to bring a water bottle and drink lots of water during the class,” Cook advised.

Recently, Monitor tried out Cook’s Zumba class, along with Kathleen Rarey, marketing and communications. “You get a really good workout,” Rarey said afterward. “Aerobics seems more like a cheerleading routine, but Zumba is more like real dancing.”

Between the concentration required to keep up with the movements and the pleasure of moving to the compelling rhythms of the music, the class also proved to be a great stress reliever.

A style for every exerciser
Counterbalancing Zumba are the Aquafit classes—gentle, water-based aerobics that are easy on joints while providing a good cardiovascular workout and calorie burning.

Core fitness and abdominal strength classes are offered, as are spinning and other group exercises.

For those who prefer a more meditative, slow-paced exercise, yoga and Pilates classes are available for an additional fee.

Swim off the pounds
The University also has a dedicated group of swimmers who meet three days a week in the morning or evening to swim. The Master Swim, a program of the BG Swim Club, is for swimmers 19 and older and provides a guided workout with a coach. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the coaches email a workout routine for those who want more time in the pool. “We have lanes for all levels of skill and fitness,” Langendorfer said. “There’s a lot of camaraderie there.”

To learn more about the group, visit and click on “BGSC Masters.”

To learn more about the Student Recreation Center, including class schedules, visit

January 14, 2008