Columbia offers for-credit, non-credit fitness classes

By Kyle Rich

The fall semester is underway, and Columbia is again ensuring students have plenty of options for staying healthy and fit.

The Office of Student Engagement offers a variety of weekly exercise classes for the mind and body at the Fitness Center, 731 S. Plymouth Court. As in previous years, they are free of cost. Columbia also offers similar classes for credit, which can leave some to wonder which option is best.

Fall fitness classes have been ongoing at the Fitness Center since 2007. This year’s classes have seen a larger turnout than in previous years, according to Mark Brticevich, coordinator of the Fitness and Recreation program. Five fitness classes are selected for scheduling each year based on student requests. Zumba and yoga were the most popular choices, according to Facebook surveys and comments of students who used the Plymouth gym, he said.

Though some classes feature professional instructors, the cost of the classes is essentially included in students’ tuition.

“A vast amount of things we do [are] paid for by the student activity committee,” Brticevich said.

The two most requested classes currently have similar for-credit versions. Yoga: Beginning and Body Tune-Up and Conditioning are both three-credit courses, and each carries a fee of $115 per semester, according to the college’s website.

“My class is a way for students to gain knowledge and understanding of different options and methodologies with which they can maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Matthew Hollis, instructor of Body Tune-Up and Conditioning. “The class touches upon many topics throughout the semester, such as circuit training, plyometric, speed, agility, core muscles, nutrition, light anatomy and even dance fitness, to name a few.”

Nicole Gutierrez, an instructor in the Fitness Center who has been teaching Zumba for three years and dancing for 28 years, describes her class as rigorous.

“We literally dance off pounds for an hour,” Gutierrez said. “I break everything down starting with small steps, and I build off of them. And as we build onto the steps, we develop routines.”

Hollis said one of the differences between the free classes and for-credit classes is frequency.

“We do the same workouts twice every week,” Hollis said. “Repetition is what helps build muscle memory. So by the end of the semester, students find themselves performing what were once challenging exercises with a fair amount of ease.”

Gutierrez echoed that sentiment, saying she wished she could teach more than once a week.

“In a perfect world, I would be seeing my clients five times a week,” she said.

Some students also feel that meeting once a week isn’t enough for them.

“It relaxes me,” said Raffinae Keyes, a senior arts, entertainment and media management major enrolled in Beginning: Yoga. “It begins my week and ends my week, so that’s good for me personally to have the class twice weekly.”

Hollis also believes that adding a fitness class to a student’s schedule creates an accountability factor that can encourage commitment.

“When you are left to your own faculties for self-training, it is easy to find reasons to not make your workouts happen,” he said.

The other three free fitness courses offered by the college are Boot Camp, the Buns and Abs Mat class, both taught by Brticevich, and Street Defense, taught by black belt and Columbia alumnus Terrance Hicks.

“It’s hardcore,” said Maddie Collins, a freshman humanities, history and social sciences major who takes the Buns and Abs Mat class. “The instructor yells at you and gets you going. We do more pilates and building muscle. [I would] recommend them to other students. I love them.”

Whatever type of class is taken, leading a healthy pays dividends for students.

“I think it’s really important to keep fitness in your life, especially as an artist,” Gutierrez said. “Your art is better and your grades will be better because when you feel good, you do good.”