Making exercise more than an obligation
Student-taught workout classes provide benefits beyond staying in shape
“Zumba’s not for everyone and it hurts my heart to say it, but I am aware of that. I think it is just that sometimes you have to let go of your inhibitions, just try something new. It is just so much easier to become healthier and focus on your health if you are doing something that you love.” — Shravya Kovela
Working out can bring about a sense of dread, obligation and exhaustion — but student instructors at the Aquatic and Fitness Center aim to make exercise fun for their peers.
“I love that [classes are] an opportunity to exercise without feeling like time is moving really slowly,” fourth-year College student Shravya Kovela said. “I think that it’s great that these types of things are coming up because it gives more versatility for people who are not really into running or sports.”
Kovela teaches Zumba Sundays and Tuesdays at the AFC, bringing the Zumba slogan, “join the party,” to life. She creates a music playlist ahead of time, and is sure to include a warm up, a cool down and some slower pieces more suitable to squats and toning.
In order to become a Zumba instructor, Kovela completed a workshop through the Zumba Corporation in addition to a class at the University. In order to become a group exercise instructor, the University suggests students take EDHS 3500, a three-credit class about body structure, fitness levels and possible exercise dangers.
Third-year College student Jesse Peterson currently teaches “Pure Strength” — a dumbbell based, bodyweight strength class. She said working out in groups can serve as a catalyst for motivation, as people generally work harder in fear of others seeing them slack off.
“The peer effect really makes you work hard because you don’t want to be seen as the slowest person or struggling, but if there’s not as many people around it is hard to stay motivated,” Peterson said.
English doctoral candidate at the University Ann Mazur teaches yoga and cycling in addition to her classes in the English department, and she said she sees a connection between learning and exercise.
“There is no way that I would have done all the academic things I have been able to do if it weren’t for [exercise],” Mazur said. “It’s not worth sitting in your chair for 10 hours a day and getting your work done if it means that your body is suffering.”
Mazur believes yoga provides students with both mental and physical benefits.
“People should try yoga,” Mazur suggests. “It can be hard and challenging and you can still get the relaxation benefits out of it while you get stronger, and that has really great mental benefits for all the academic things too.”
Some students become regulars in certain classes. Kovela said when she slips up and forgets pieces of her choreography, she has people who remember it and keep going.
“After class having people come up to me and say that it was a great workout just really seals the deal,” Peterson said. “That is awesome.”
The instructors emphasized how important it is for each student to find an exercise routine that suits them best.
“Give different formats a shot because there is probably something out there that you love, but it’s just hard to find that,” Kovela said. “Zumba’s not for everyone and it hurts my heart to say it, but I am aware of that. I think it is just that sometimes you have to let go of your inhibitions, just try something new. It is just so much easier to become healthier and focus on your health if you are doing something that you love.”