University Recreation News

  • Stay Healthy and Exercise!

    Posted By: UREC, October 08, 2015
    TUSCALOOSA, Ala— Rates of obesity in young people have risen in the last few years but with the help of Fitness Services at University Recreation, UA students can stay healthy.

    Students at the University of Alabama have access to personal trainers at a reasonable price. Group Exercise classes are also offered at no additional charge.

    Vicky Evangelou is a group exercise instructor for Group Exercise, who graduated from UA in December of 2014.

    “I personally struggled with weight gain when I first started college,” said Evangelou, a Group Exercise instructor for University Recreation. “I wasn't living at home, I was consuming way more calories than I was burning, and I also start drinking alcohol. I just wasn't paying attention to what I was doing to my body and all of a sudden I gained 60 plus pounds.”

    “Be good to your body by what you put in it,” said Evangelou. “Be aware of the things you eat and don't go overboard on game-days.”

    “It is fairly simple to avoid weight gain in college,” said Jason Casey, Coordinator for Fitness Services for University Recreation.

    “They need to meet our minimum guidelines, which is ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) guidelines,” said Casey. “The minimum guidelines are five days per week of 30 minutes of physical activity and then to change body weight you double that. To change your body weight you need to be close to about 300 minutes per week of physical activity.”

    Busy schedules and lots of homework often put exercise low on the priority list for college students.

    “I hear this all the time…'I don't have time to work out’,” said Evangelou. “Reality is… you do! Commit to at least 30 minutes a day to being active. Your health needs to be a priority as well as school. I have read studies that find positive correlation between exercise and school performances.”

    Evangelou can attribute her successful weight loss to group exercise classes at the Student Recreation Center.

    “I have been taking group exercise classes at the Student Recreation Center since I started school at Alabama,” said Evangelou. “I instantly fell in love with Whitney’s classes. One day she announced that they were starting a group exercise instructor-training course. I thought that if I didn't take the opportunity to become a fitness instructor then I would regret it. I don't know where I would be if I never jumped at the opportunity. I would have definitely regretted it!”

    Whitney Pape is the Coordinator of Group Exercise for University Recreation and is also a former UA student.

    “Number one, stay active,” said Pape. “Obviously, walking on campus a lot is one way to stay active which students pretty much have to do anyway. Take advantage of everything University Recreation has to offer because you don't want to go through school and then your senior year come in and realize that you missed out on group exercise classes.”

    A fun and possibly more motivating way to get in some exercise is with a friend.

    “If you exercise with a friend that'll motivate you to do it,” said Pape. “You could even go on YouTube and look up exercise videos and do that with a friend if you don't have time to make it to the gym.”

    Haleigh Amend
    UREC Student Marketing Assistant
  • Why hire a personal trainer?

    Posted By: UREC, February 08, 2013
    Steffan Young is a personal trainer at the Student Recreation Center. He’s been working here a year, and most of his clients are student athletes.

    Steffan showed me the newest equipment in the personal trainer studio – the Synergy 360. It’s an impressive machine with multiple stations, and the trainers told me that it was their Christmas present. Up to 20 personal trainer clients can work on it at once, whereas other machines are one-person.

    The Synergy 360 has saved a lot of space in the personal trainer studio. It allows groups personal trainees to work as a team.

    “It’s for a team to complete that full circle, and work together,” Young said.

    I tried the Synergy 360 out a little bit, and was able to do lunges with a resistance belt, easily move a platform up and down to do stair jumps on it, work my biceps, and pull a heavy rope down that was looped through monkey bars – it was harder than it looked.

    I was amazed how easily it was to move the height of the equipment – and how great a workout you could get from one machine.

    Student Recreation Center employees said that a lot of students want to use the new equipment, but the equipment is for clients of personal trainers only.

    I spoke with Steffan about the benefits of hiring a personal trainer.

    “Anybody can benefit from it,” he said. “That’s what’s so great about it.”

    Steffan said that while some people use work-out machines, they could be doing a movement wrong and hurt themselves.

    One major factor that people chose to work with a personal trainer? The motivation.

    “You have someone there, and you have a certain time that you have to be there, and you have to do things that you’re not going to do on your own,” Young said.

    Learn more about our personal training services and prices:

  • All About Pilates!

    Posted By: UREC, September 02, 2015
    Allie Hulcher

    Sarah Letcher, a junior at the University of Alabama, can remember the first time she ever tried Pilates.

    “I remember going to my first class and thinking this will definitely be my last, but for some reason I gave it another shot,” Letcher said.

    Now, Letcher is hooked. She’s been doing Pilates for five years.

    Pilates is a total-body conditioning method that increases flexibility and strength, improves posture and balance, and develops a strong core.

    The appeal of Pilates, for Letcher, is that it is a full-body workout.

    “I really enjoy Pilates because it is a great full-body workout, without putting major strain on your joints, and can be done every day, unlike heavy weight bearing activities,” Letcher said.

    The Student Recreation Center offers classes in both mat and Reformer Pilates.

    Kim Wyatt, an instructor at University Recreation, teaches Letcher and other students both mat and Reformer Pilates. She recommends taking both classes because they each apply the basic Pilates principles but through different formats.

    So how are the two different?

    Mat Pilates can be done anywhere there is enough space to move freely, and uses one’s body weight and gravity for natural resistance. Reformer work is equipment-based and adds external resistance in the form of spring tension to build strength and muscle tone quickly and efficiently. Mat classes are free with a Rec center membership, and are offered five days a week in Miles studio, making it a flexible and accessible addition to anyone’s fitness program (Check the Group Ex schedule for times and instructors.)

    Traditional mat classes require students to recruit their core strength to garner stability for all the exercises, so the abdominals are always engaged. Music is often used to set the tone and tempo for the class. Mat Pilates if fun and engaging, and can even incorporate a cardio aspect.

    “Depending on the instructor, and the purpose of the class, mat Pilates can be quick and energetic, or more focused and deliberate,” Wyatt said.

    Pilates Reformer operates on the same basic principles as matwork, but steps it up with additional resistance and stability challenges. The Reformer studio, located between the women’s locker room and Studio C (Personal Training), is home to six Balanced Body Allegro Reformers with Towers, and one demo Reformer. Space is limited, and sessions must be purchased by the participants to reserve their spot and pay the highly-trained instructors who teach Reformer.

    “The Reformer is a very versatile machine, which means the variations are endless and you never get bored,” Wyatt said.

    Reformer classes are individualized to fit your specifics needs. Reformer instructors have been trained in the same manner as personal trainers – they take a detailed anatomy course and more than 40 hours of training on the equipment. Most instructors observe other instructors teach before teaching their own classes.

    University Recreation offers its Reformer services to students for only $15 per class-- $20 for faculty and staff. Privates and semi-privates are also available at an additional charge.

    “We offer the UA community and Rec center members a quality program for an incredible value,” Wyatt said.

    Take advantage of the Group Reformer Special, and get an even better deal. When three to six people create their own Reformer “group” the cost per class is only $45, making that only $7.50 per person per class if six people sign up. This is a great way to get a group of friends to team up for better fitness, save money, and have lots of fun doing something that may be new and different for them.

    FREE 30-minute Intro classes are offered three times a week, but a private introduction session can always be scheduled with an individual instructor. It is important to attend an intro class before signing up for privates, classes, or groups.

    “Although it’s additional expense, it's a very small investment towards improving health and well-being,” Wyatt said.

    If you’re still not convinced, keep in mind that even football players do Pilates. And look where they are!

    “If anyone is suffering from fitness burnout, I challenge them to come to an intro, sign up for a month of classes, and experience the difference for themselves,” Wyatt said. “You will be strengthened, invigorated, challenged, and renewed in mind and body, and I think you’ll be back!”

    Those benefits certainly kept Letcher coming back.

    “For me specifically I have really made Pilates a top priority for me, because I stay pretty busy day to day and although it is a great workout, you do not always leave drenched so you can go straight to the next thing on your agenda,” Letcher said.

  • Instructor of the Month - Kimberly Bissell

    Posted By: UREC, November 28, 2012
    University Recreation
    Allie Hulcher
    November 28, 2012

    As an instructor, Kimberly Bissell has the best of both worlds.

    She teaches classes at both the University of Alabama and the Student Recreation Center.

    As a faculty member of the College of Communication, Bissell teaches students about journalism, design, and media effects. As an instructor at the Student Recreation Center, she teaches spin, cycle and strength, total body sculpt, and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).

    “I love the classes I teach at UA, and I love engaging with students at an intellectual level, but the Rec gives me a chance to challenge people on the fitness side of things,” Bissell said.

    Bissell said she enjoys the different relationships she builds with her students at the different venues. For example, she loves knowing that people keep coming back to her fitness classes by choice.

    “It’s cool to know that I’m able to work with people over 2 years or 3 years, and they keep coming back,” Bissell said.

    The aspect of surprise is also a thrill for Bissell.

    “You walk in and you don’t always know what to expect in terms of who’s going to be there, and I think that’s really fun,” Bissell said.

    Fitness has always been a part of Bissell’s life. She was an athlete in high school and college, and now she instills that love of fitness in her children, who play soccer.

    But Bissell recalls when she hit a “fitness wall” in graduate school.

    “I felt I didn’t have the time to exercise,” Bissell said. “When I started teaching at UA, I was the heaviest
    I had ever been, and I was really unhappy with myself for getting that way. I was never overweight, but I carried around more weight than I should.”

    Bissell said she had a big turnaround when she started exercising and taking Group Ex classes at the University Recreation Center.

    “I think it was a very positive thing to have happened because I found the time to take Group Ex classes, and I wanted to be there because I knew it was helping me become healthier,” Bissell said.

    Bissell was a regular attendant of the Rec for years when she began to consider receiving a certification to teach.

    “At the time, when the Rec was a little bit smaller, I thought there would be ways to expand what was being offered,” Bissell said.

    When she hears students talking about not having time to come to the Rec, Bissell can relate. But she encourages students to make time for their health and well-being.

    “Having been in that position, I know how hard it is to manage time and balance all of the things we have to juggle, so I can sympathize with them but I can also say, I totally understand, but make the time,” Bissell said.

    When asked why she carves time out of her week to teach fitness classes, she replied:

    “I see it as a challenge – it gives me a chance to teach in a very different way.”
  • My First Zumba Experience

    Posted By: UREC, November 02, 2012
    First-time Zumba experience

    Allie Hulcher

    Before the music started, we were just 20 women in black sweatpants, stretching out our muscles and loosening our bodies.

    When the music began, we were dancers, movers, shakers, – following our instructor and feeling the rhythm in our every move.

    This is the story of my first time in a Zumba class at the University Recreation Center.

    Zumba first captured my attention when I heard my friends talking about their experiences with it. “Exciting,” “fast-paced,” and “fun” were all words that kept occurring in Zumba conversations. I had heard many other enthusiastic female students talking about Zumba – the way they were talking about it, it seemed like Zumba was addictive.

    Zumba uses a combination of dance and aerobics and incorporates hip-hip, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and Bollywood and belly dance moves.

    “It’s an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning, dance fitness party,” reads the description on the Zumba Fitness website.

    I personally like to exercise by doing, rather than remaining in one place. For me, exercise is fun when I’m playing tennis, running, or dancing. Lifting weights just doesn’t entice me to focus for very long. That’s why Zumba sounded like a good fitness class for me.

    I attended Sara-Margaret Cates’s Zumba class this Tuesday night. I could feel the energy in this instructor’s manner as I talked to her before the class.

    Cates was testing the musical playlist for the class in Studio A when I came up to her. She was clad in the signature style of Zumba – bright neon colors – and wore purple cargo pants and a green headband.

    I asked her about what drew her to Zumba. She has been participating in Zumba for more than three years, and has been a licensed instructor since 2011. Cates has been dancing for about 26 years, with a background in ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom, stage dance, and more.

    “I love the fusion of dance and fitness,” Cates said. “I’m not built like a dancer, but I’ve always loved to dance.”

    She told me before the class to not be alarmed if she or other participants yelled things out during the class.
    “It’s so exciting, sometimes you just have to make noise,” Cates explained. “Yell Roll Tide, or anything.”

    Once everyone found a space in Studio A, Cates turned up the music, started moving, and gave us an introduction.

    “If you get lost or don’t want to do my moves then make up your own moves,” Cates said. “And I might steal some, because you guys have some pretty sweet moves!”

    This opening speech by our instructor filled me with relief and I began to loosen up a bit more, and this is why: I’m not the best at following dance steps. Home videos of my ballet performances from the 90s prove this. A five-year old me can be seen, moving left while the rest of the dancers move right. Eventually, I twirl off stage and fall out of place of the routine.

    Cates added that we should take water breaks whenever we need it. Then, before I knew it, we were all twirling, kicking, punching, jumping, and, above all, constantly dancing to the music.

    Cates’s playlist for the class included pop songs like Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend, Latin Hip-hop, salsa, meringue, and Bollywood.
    The class was a whirlwind of dance moves – we learned as we went and repeated the moves throughout the song. My personal favorite dances were the Bollywood-inspired moves we enjoyed for “Jai Ho” and the salsa steps I learned during “Cali Aji.”

    It was thrilling to move around the room and put all our energy into the workout. As we jumped to face all the walls, or shimmied in a circle, I could see the joy in the participants’ faces. When Cates would transition into a different move, she would clap or sometimes yell. Other participants would do the same. It was exhilarating. Zumba is about leaving your inhibitions and tensions at the door. If you can do this, and remember to not take yourself too seriously, you’re going to have a blast.

    Sometimes, I felt a little confused how to do a certain move, but the great thing was – it didn’t matter. I could switch up a move to make it my own. I always tried to follow the moves, but I wondered how other dancers seemed to follow along so well.

    I asked Cates about it after class, and she told me that she repeats similar moves in each class. This inspired me even more to come back – the more I go, the more I’ll learn, and my workout will be more intense.

    Cates told me that because Zumba is high-energy, participants can expect to burn over 600 calories in a one hour class. In addition to calorie burn, classes are designed to work all the major muscle groups and incorporate interval training for optimal results.

    Though females participants make up the majority of Zumba classes, a few men join the classes from time to time. The Rec has one male licensed instructor who teaches Zumba, and the founder of Zumba was a man.

    “I strongly encourage the men of the University of Alabama to come give us a try,” Cates said. “Not only is the class a blast, but everything I’ve read indicates that adding variety to one’s workout routine is an excellent way to improve your process.”

    Overall, the hype of Zumba was not a let-down – it lived up to my expectations. The time flew and I craved another chance to hone my variety of new dance moves.
  • Diabetes Stops Here

    Posted By: UREC, March 27, 2012
    I grew up watching the impact of diabetes on my mom and my aunts. My mom lost her leg due to diabetes and died as a result of complications from the disease. Now I watch my sisters deal with it. Because of this family history, I have always monitored my blood glucose levels, but I haven’t always monitored the rest of my health as well.

    A few years ago, I was headed in the same direction. My doctor was concerned that I already had the signs for type 2 diabetes, also known as prediabetes—and I knew that I did. I was obese and I had high blood pressure, sleep apnea and problems with circulation in my legs. I had been trying to exercise regularly and eat better, but I was too stressed about other things in my life and my health to really make significant progress.

    In May 2010 all of that changed. My doctor cared enough to have a very serious talk with me about my health. At that point type 2 diabetes and heart problems both seemed to be in the near future for me.

    I also had an experience on a business trip to Washington, D.C., that catapulted me into changing my life. The temperatures were over 100 in the nation’s capital and I had a horrible time getting from place to place during the conference. It was the breaking point for me. I wanted to be healthier, fitter. I needed to address my health issues.

    About the same time, I began working with a new personal trainer, Sam, who totally changed my life. I became serious about my diet as well as about exercise. Since June 2010 I have lost 140 pounds and I have become a triathlete. I no longer have high blood pressure, sleep apnea or prediabetes. I chronicle this journey on my personal blogThis image is associated with an external link..

    In addition, I joined the Community Leadership Board for the Alabama/Mississippi office of the American Diabetes Association and have worked on a number of fundraisers so far. I have become involved in diabetes advocacy and education on the university campus where I work and in my community.

    I know I have to continue to be vigilant about my health. Given my hereditary factors, there is no guarantee that I will not one day have type 2. However, I have done everything in my power to prevent or delay this. It is possible to change your life.

    Millie Jackson
    Age: 52
    Tuscaloosa, Ala.