As final exam season rapidly approaches, it's easy for students to prioritize cramming and attending study sessions over their health and wellness. During these periods of high stress, it's important to strike a balance between schoolwork and mental and physical well-being.
Every day, Ping Recreation Center offers opportunities for students to decompress and exercise individually and in group fitness programs. Between the rock wall, five basketball courts, indoor running track, free weights and several machines and lifting spots, there are plenty of options for individual fitness, all accessible through the swipe of an Ohio ID.
Although there is no charge for OU students at the front desk of Ping, it should be noted the resources are not necessarily “free” since they are all worked into a categorization of OU’s tuition labeled “general fee.” Additionally, students are required to be actively enrolled in classes to use Ping without paying. Thus, students living in Athens over the summer who are not enrolled in the Summer Semester cannot take advantage of the gym without paying $8 per day, or a monthly fee of $30.
For students beginning their fitness journey, venturing into the endless labyrinth of machines and weights can be intimidating. Especially as a beginner, it can be challenging to build a routine that fits one's personal fitness goals.
Jackie Augustine, a senior studying exercise physiology, is the group fitness student supervisor at Ping as well as a yoga instructor and personal trainer. She recognizes the anxiety surrounding fitness.
“I think it can be kind of daunting, especially if you are a freshman, and you’re not sure where to start on your fitness journey or overall well-being journey,” Augustine said. “I think we definitely have a lot of resources that students should check out.”
Luckily, Ping offers a variety of opportunities that enhance personal fitness, including student personal trainers, student group fitness instructors and F45 coaches, who are part of a specific type of training.
For a more individualized experience, students can request personal trainers who work with students based on availability and scheduling around class schedules. It is a fee-based service that the individual student must request and purchase, with prices up to $500 for a semester pass with two sessions per week. However, it can streamline the process of starting a new exercise regimen.
Similarly, Ping offers F45 training, which is a group training experience that is a hybrid between individual and group fitness. These are 45-minute classes that have around 20 people per session. The unlimited semester membership for OU students costs $50.
However, for a beginner, looking at group fitness opportunities is a starting place. Ping offers classes students can sign up for, including cardio dance, yoga, cycling and boxing. Registration for these classes opens up 23 hours before the designated class, which can be accessed on the RecShop. Group fitness classes are included without charge for those with a Ping membership, including students.
Tony Gregory, the assistant director for well-being and fitness, who supervises group fitness and scheduling at Ping, said these programs have health-related goals. There is a student wellbeing coaching program in place for students to seek help with many aspects of their lives.
“Our coaches are peer coaches that can work with students to help them set SMART goals,” Gregory said. “Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound on topics such as physical activity, nutrition, sleep, stress management, self-esteem and establishing social support systems.”
For group fitness classes in particular, some classes like yoga and cycling are extremely popular, and spots fill up quickly. Taylor Reigle, a senior studying business, is one of the cycling instructors for the group classes.
“It’s like a dance party for 45 minutes, and you kind of push away all the thoughts outside of the classroom and get a good workout in,” Reigle said. “It’s an easy way to get your cardio in for the week.”
Augustine further elaborated on the importance of yoga, especially in a group fitness setting.
“Physical activity can be scary for some people,” she said. “I think Yoga is a really good combination of both the relaxation and stress-free zone, and also you can get a good sweat in. So whether you are looking to just decompress or if you are looking for that physical activity component, I think yoga has a really special place in my heart when it comes to group fitness and inclusiveness.”
Group fitness is one of many ways to get involved in an exercise routine, regardless of experience or fitness level. The group nature of the classes fosters a community, and it is a way to meet people with similar health and wellness goals.
“We like to think that we provide a really cool experience for students that is inclusive to all,” Gregory said. “Regardless of your fitness level, attending those classes is a great place to start because there’s no judgment in our classes. We pride ourselves that all instructors are well versed on being able to provide modification, encouragement and really just build people up when it comes to attending our programs.”
The demands of campus life and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle can often be a challenge. However, Ping offers Bobcats access to a facility that caters to their fitness needs while providing a vibrant community focused on overall well-being.