New Year’s fitness hype may not last

Sammy Caiola

It’s the week after New Year’s, and flyers for BLAST classes, FitGirlStudio and other high-energy activities are plastered all over campus. With some students determined to maintain their New Year’s resolutions, interest in exercise programming is high – a trend instructors say probably won’t last.

Melanie Bolen, an instructor at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center for three years, said she usually sees a 50 percent drop-off from the beginning to the end of every quarter. She said the thinning effect usually starts around midterms: Students leave either because of academic stress or out of fear that they aren’t performing well.

“With any fitness, it’s going to be challenging at first,” Bolen said. “You have to go in with the mindset that you might stink, but you’re going to get better. You need to listen to your own body and work on improving week by week until it gets easier.”

The Fit Factor, SPAC’s newest fitness competition, aims to keep participants committed beyond January by putting them on a nine-week exercise program with a personal trainer, said Rebecca Orr, the program’s marketing manager. The program will start Monday, Orr said.

Students and SPAC members had to apply to the program in small teams before the Jan. 9 deadline. Sixty-three applications were submitted and three small groups were selected to receive free training, Orr said. The team that most prominently broadcasts its experience to the NU Community will win a $250 travel voucher for each member.

Orr said the deadline was set for the first week of January for a reason.

“We really wanted to target people who were ready and excited to commit to their New Year’s resolutions,” said Orr, a Communication senior. “We thought Winter Quarter was a better time than ever because most people are inside and hibernating.”

The week after winter break can be a wake-up call for some, such as Morgan Richardson, a Communication junior. She said she has been working out regularly at SPAC and Blomquist Gymnasium and applied to Fit Factor because she wanted to go further this quarter.

“I started exercising and dieting because I want to be healthier and lose weight,” Richardson said.

Joel Press, a physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Feinberg professor, said in order to reduce body fat, students must burn more calories than they take in. He suggests 30 minutes of cardio every other day, plus a decrease in high-calorie foods and alcohol.

“The most important thing in keeping it going is that it has to be continuous and it has to be fun in some way, shape, or form,” Press said.

Other students are turning to more unconventional workouts, such as the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program offered at Blomquist. Weinberg junior Jai Broome, a co-president of the club and former daily staffer, said attendance at the first class was high, but he expects the numbers to decrease as the quarter goes on.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a contact sport, and the club warns beginners not to risk too much on the first day. On the upside, it provides a unique and versatile workout, Broome said.

“It’s a great way to get in shape,” said Broome. “You use a lot of different parts of your body in ways that you might not otherwise exercise. It does a good job of honing general fitness in addition to special strength training.”

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