Columbia fitness classes free to be fit

By Nader Ihmoud

Students who want to get fit for free need to look no further. Begin the week learning self–defense followed by Vinyasa Yoga, and end the week doing Hip-Hop Hustle dance moves. Columbia now offers four free fitness classes for Columbia and Roosevelt University students, Monday through Friday. at 731 S. Plymouth Court.

The college offered classes in previous years but this is the first time they will be held in a single spot. The college spent $19,000 to renovate the former Spectacle Build Shop into a fitness room.

Terrence Hicks, Columbia alumnus, instructs the Street Defense class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

“Just because it is a college area [does not mean] it’s secluded,” Hicks said. “We are right here in downtown Chicago. Everyone walks past [Columbia], be it a homeless person or just some random street gangbanger [who] is from [a] different part of town, looking for easy pickings. They can tell you are not from the city.”

Hicks wrestled in high school and after graduating,began practicing traditional martial arts. In 1993, he started karate and is now a third-degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu Karate.  He has been practicing karate for 18 years and grappling arts for 20 years.

Grappling refers to achieve position on an opponent in order to gain a physical advantage. Hicks said the class welcomes  students with different skill levels and preferences, be it wrestling, karate and Tae Kwon Do.

“It’s a melting pot when it comes to class,” Hicks said. “If one technique may not work for a specific person, other things will.”

The other classes offered are yoga and several forms of aerobic exercise.

Senior Marketing Communications major Kayla Tucker instructs the two-in-one,  Turbo-Kick and Hip-Hop Hustle class. Turbo-Kick is a cardio kick-boxing session while Hip-Hop Hustle is a basic full body dance moves class. Tucker taught her first class of the semester on Sept. 14, and said even though the workout is intense and the class members were  new to it, they still caught on fast.

Tucker became certified by Powder Blue Productions in Turbo–Kick on Aug. 27 and for Hip-Hop Hustle on June 25. She said no prior experience is needed to take her class.

“I want students to get up and be able to do an intense workout and be confident in it and know that they just worked really hard,” Tucker said.

According to Amber Cook, Columbia’s yoga instructor, the Vinyasa Yoga class has a much more relaxed environment but a similar purpose. Vinyasa is a type of yoga that synchronizes breathing with fluid body movements. Poses may be challenging to some, but Cook wants her students to learn to relax.  An alumna of Columbia, Cook said she understands the school can be too much at times.

“Students are overwhelmed by school and other things going on. I try to be [understanding] to that,” Cook said.

She began taking yoga classes 10 years ago after she broke her back and ankle. She said taking the classes relieved her of physical discomfort. Now she teaches at several places including the Board of Trade, Chicago

Field Museum and Moksha Yoga Center.

No prior registration is necessary. For further information call 312.369.6920