Healthy Viking program encourages wellness

Lawrence_Trainer (Medium)Beach-bod season may be over, but it’s never too late to get fit, and college is the perfect place to do it. Many of us pass by the Wellness Center on our way to the Café and Andrew Commons for meals and snacks. Whether this was meant to induce guilt or not, it is oddly strategic placement. The Wellness Center offers several fantastic fitness classes to students, but this year they debuted the new “Healthy Viking” personal training program.

For some, it can be difficult to find the motivation to go to the gym and work out. It becomes even more difficult when the weight room looks like a medieval torture chamber. A lot of fitness machines are intimidating because of the threat of injury or general confusion as to what this contraption is supposed to do. Most people don’t know which exercises are best for them, or they simply don’t know the correct way to do them. With the Healthy Viking program, fitness no longer has to be a mystery.

I signed up for the personal training program after fumbling around at my own gym back home for the past three months. Sweaty men dominated the weight room, lifting seventy-five pound weights like cotton balls. I would attempt one of the machines, realize that I had no idea what I was doing, and quietly slip out of the room before one of the Arnold Schwarzeneggers crushed me. I was tired of feeling like a deer caught in the headlights while everyone around me pumped and perspired.

While personal training at that gym was offered at an astronomical price, here it’s free, so I jumped at the chance. Now I have two sessions a week with senior Cory Paquette, a member of the softball team. The Healthy Viking program pairs experienced student athletes with the participants. “I get to meet other students that I wouldn’t meet otherwise and they get to meet upperclassmen,” said Paquette.

Personal training wasn’t something she’d ever thought she’d be doing, but she found that, “It’s something that I have a lot of personal interest in, lifting weights and working out. I’m really glad that I get to use some of my knowledge and talents to help other people.”

Accountability is essential when trying to lose weight or improve general fitness and it can be a great help to students.

“I really wanted to get in shape and I’m not very good at holding myself to standards, so it’s really nice to have someone else there to do that,” said freshman Annie Ela, who is training to run a 5k over the Thanksgiving holiday. “I want to learn how to run, that’s how I got into it.”

Annie works with Erin Buenzli, the head of the program, and focuses on exercises that build leg muscle. She’s been involved in the program for two weeks and her progress has been noticeable. “I’ve never been able to run before and I ran for twenty minutes today. It was really great.”

There are multiple benefits to taking the time to exercise. Students may find regular visits to the gym will increase their mental health and academic performance. Ela says, “I can always focus a lot better after I’ve exercised, so I like to do that before I do work.” The release of endorphins after physical exercise can lift the mood and help students to gather their thoughts.

“You know how you just feel really good about yourself when you get done working out? That’s a major thing for me. It just makes you feel happier,” said freshman PJ Uhazie. His reasons for signing up? “Besides being deathly afraid of the Freshman 15, I just wanted to stay healthy and find new ways of exercising.”

Along with the natural mood-enhancement personal training can provide, the personal trainers can teach students exercises that they will be able to continue on their own. “I now know how to use some machines that I didn’t know how to use before,” said Uhazie.

Personal training that builds a community between younger and older students and bolsters the physical, mental and emotional health of participants should not be passed up. The program allows for two forty-five minute sessions per week, tailored to the specific needs and goals of the student. Those interested can sign up by emailing erin.buenzli@lawrence.edu.

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