On-campus gyms are tricky places. At first, they intimidated me. Why would I want to go to a gym where I’m almost certain to run into someone I know? Then, they bored me. Your workout out doesn’t have to just be about losing weight, but I watched the same seven people running on the Skyline treadmills almost every day as a freshman. I thought to myself “there must be something better than this.” And I was right. Every semester, Mason Rec posts the campus-wide fitness class schedule up on their website, but compared to the number of people who attend Mason, the number of people showing up to classes is small, sad and had me worried that people didn’t know about the amazing opportunities for on-campus exercise. Here are my top 4:
1. Pure Barre
This class started out in the fall semester as a trial class, open to Mason students and the public for free and taught in the JC Dance Studio. Now, however, it’s moved to a prime-time weekday spot in the AFC. A mix of ballet, pilates, yoga, cardio and targeted strength, Pure Barre is based on the Barre Method and promises to work your muscles in a focused way while increasing flexibility and posture. And boy, does it deliver. A bonus? The class is free for full-time students. Happy toning.
2. Self Defense
If you don’t think this class will make you sweat, you need a serious reality check. Mason’s Self Defense class is usually taught two nights a week and is the perfect combo of exercise and life skills. Drawing from a wide variety of martial arts, mainly Tae Kwon Do, instructors teach exercises such as how to block punches and kicks, how to get away from an unwanted follower and how to put power behind a punch or kick. They also incorporate strength moves to help you feel more confident in your ability to fight off an attacker. The class is included in the $50 per semester Gold Membership, which you can purchase at the desk of any gym on campus.
3. Yoga/Pilates Fusion
Yoga and Pilates are perhaps two of the most popular exercise classes on campus, but the combination class is by far the best workout. Combining the flexibility and core strength of yoga with the cardio and traditional strength of Pilates, the instructor leads you through fun vinyasa flows with fiery toning exercises mixed in. She’s usually really open to suggestions as well and will often ask the class what kind of challenge pose they may want to work on. She also uses fun props like medicine balls, blocks and straps. The class is included in a Gold Membership.
4. Boot Camp
The name and time of day may seem daunting, but I promise this class is so worth it. Getting up at 6:15 on a Friday didn’t sound like my jam, but I wanted to try it. Plus, morning exercise is great for you. After walking to the AFC in the dark, I greeted the sunrise with possibly one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done, but also one of the most fun. Basically, Boot Camp is taught by one of the most energetic and encouraging women I’ve ever met and consists of several ‘stations’ that you rotate between on timed intervals. They can be anything from jump squats to resistance band moves to battle ropes. At the end you actually play games- we did a plank race- and then have a big group stretch. I knew two people there at the beginning of class, and left feeling like I had made friends. Even better, this class is also totally free for full-time students, no Gold Membership required.
Get off that treadmill and go try these classes. I promise they will push you outside of your comfort zone in the best way possible. Exercising on campus doesn’t have to be boring. See you at the gym.