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July 3, 2000

Fitness buffs pledge allegiance to new Wellness Center

By Jennifer McNulty

For the last few months, Currents Online has followed the progress of two members of the campus community with varied fitness backgrounds as they pursued their fitness goals. This is the last report of the academic year.

The new campus Wellness Center has captured the hearts--and improved the cardiovascular fitness--of hundreds of people on campus, including Katrina Cope and Gene Switkes, who have honored their pledges to work out regularly in the facility that opened in January.
Photo of Katrina Cope and April Goral with Gyre Renwick
Katrina Cope (left) and colleague April Goral show off their new muscles with instructor Gyre Renwick.
Photo: Jennifer McNulty

"My use and enjoyment of the center has not waned as the newness of the center wears off," said Switkes, a chemistry professor who has used the Wellness Center's well-equipped weight rooms to round out his workout routines, which include tennis and running.

"I keep finding additional benefits, including some really helpful guidance I've gotten from staff members and graduate student colleagues," said Switkes.

Among his tutors are teaching assistants in an exercise physiology class offered by the Biology Department. "They've taught me about the relationship of exercise levels to cardiovascular conditioning and maximum fat metabolism."

Both Switkes and Cope have introduced colleagues to the fitness facilities. Cope's supervisor has approached her about participating in the Adopt-A-Slug Exercise Mentorship Program for faculty and staff.

The summer program introduces employees to the Wellness Center's facilities by pairing them with rec card holders and offering them 20 free visits. If they use all the visits within seven weeks, they and their mentor will receive a free T-shirt.

"Anyone can exercise for two or three weeks, but seven weeks is a commitment," said Ryan Andrews, manager of the Wellness Center, who hopes to attract 75 new fitness converts through the incentive program.

With students away from campus for the summer, the Wellness Center is crying out for more users. "It's empty! Get in here and use it!" said Andrews, adding that the first floor of the facility is reserved for use by faculty and staff only each day from noon to 1 p.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Having conquered an early spring slump, Cope has declared her experiment in fitness such a success that she plans to continue her lunch-hour workouts through the summer and into the next academic year

"I think it's getting started that's the hardest part--overcoming that inertia," said Cope, who is enjoying the satisfaction of having lost inches and improving her strength and endurance. "I'm able to fit into my clothes better, and I definitely feel less stressed when I go back to work after a class. It's refreshing to do this."

Cope has maintained her twice-weekly lunch-hour "Express workouts" and her success has inspired several other colleagues from Hahn Student Services to join the noon workout.

After only six weeks, Barbara Ng, an assistant in the Admissions Office, said she noticed how much stronger she has become when she hoisted her suitcase into the overhead luggage bin on an airplane.

"I had to carry my suitcase up two flights of stairs, and I wasn't out of breath when I got there," she added. "It builds confidence when you're out in the world."

New services offered at the Wellness Center include fitness testing, personal trainers, and training on the Technogym exercise equipment. A comprehensive fitness assessment, which includes cardiovascular testing, flexibility testing, bodyfat content, and strength and endurance testing, is available for $30. Individual tests can be scheduled for $5 each.

Fees for personal trainers are $30 per hour for students and $35 per hour for faculty and staff. "The goal of working with a trainer really should be to work together three or four times, then go out on your own," said Andrews. "After that, you can meet periodically for motivation and to reprogram your workout."

The Technogym equipment, considered the most cutting-edge technology-based equipment in the world, enables users to develop customized exercise programs that deliver optimum results. Using the Technogym Smartkey, the system saves all workout data in a personalized database that makes charting progress easy. Training sessions, made up of three 75-minute classes, begin June 26.

While other students in the Express Workout have come and gone, Cope and her colleague and friend April Goral have been regulars. "We took Ryan out to lunch to thank him--and he ate a dessert," Cope recalled with glee. "It's important to treat your coach right, too."

Cope's new goal is to reach the one-year mark on her road to lifelong fitness. "I feel like I'll hit a milestone if I hit a year," she said. Meanwhile, she plans to do a follow-up fitness assessment in September to see what progress she has made over six months.

Fitness Tip: If you want to participate in the Adopt-A-Slug Exercise Mentorship Program or sign up for a Technogym class, call (831) 459-2995. The Adopt-A-Slug program begins July 12 and ends Sept. 20. Wellness Center orientations are offered on Tuesday evenings at 5:15 p.m. and on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. For information about fitness testing, call (831) 459-3970.

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