All About Fitness Programs

Durling, Cishella:
Hi everybody, my name is Cishella Durling! Welcome to another Student Affairs podcast. Today, we're going to be talking with Danielle Lavender, who is the assistant director of the Fitness and Wellness programs through the Department of Campus Recreation. So, today, we're going to talk about some of the reasons why the fitness programs and wellness programs are absolutely vital to campus life, and we're just going to go ahead and jump right on in. So, Danielle, what are some types of programs that are offered through the Campus Rec?

Lavender, Danielle:
Well, first off, thank you for having me, I am always excited to talk about our Campus Rec program. It was a big part of me—my life as a student here. I went to UofL for my undergraduate and master’s degree, so I was very excited to come back and be able to contribute to this program.

So, the different types of programs we have; we of course have what we call recreational fitness, and that's where you come into our gym and you work out, you do whatever workout you have for the day. We actually have two different fitness areas. So, we have our main weight room floor; our building is 128,000 square feet for those who didn't know, so, it's very large. So, we have our main weight room floor and that has seven Olympic squat racks and then of course dumbbells, tons of cardio—whether you like to use treadmills, ellipticals, stair climbers, cross trainers, we have a Jacob's ladder where you can imitate climbing a ladder. We have just about any and everything you could want, and we try to keep a good variety because fitness is not one-size-fits-all and we understand that. So, we try to make it as appealing to the 80% versus the 20% we like to say. And then of course, we have our smaller area, which is my favorite because I actually don't like to be around a lot of people all the time. So, we have our smaller annex upstairs that is kind of more cozy, but it still has dumbbells that go from 5 to 50 pounds. It has some benches, everything except for squat racks, are upstairs and all the same cardio as well.

We also have our group fitness program. Unlike a lot of universities, we offer everything for free. So, you don't have to pay to come to a cycling class, you don’t have to pay to go to a yoga class; anywhere else, if you are a student, you may pay $40.00 for a bundle to be able to do that, we offer it all for free. All of our student instructors are certified through professional organizations, so we offer yoga, cycling, Pilates, bar, fusion, kick boxing, all kinds—whatever we can offer, we try to do that. We also allow our students to do pop-up classes. So, you may have a Zumba instructor and a kickboxing instructor doing a joint class where you might dance and be able to throw a few punches, you never really know, it's kind of up to our students to decide that. We do different themed classes like, when Jack Harlow had his concert, one of our spin instructors did a Jack Harlow themed class, so we really allow as much creativity as we can. That's why we like to be student led.

And then of course, we have our intramural department. So, intramurals if you didn't know, are unlike our varsity sports where we have our men's basketball team, our men's soccer team, our women's lacrosse teams; we have versions of that that are kind of more recreational, more fun— you can join and bring your own team, or you can join as a free agent, and you can just sign up for a team. And we offer everything from flag football to spike ball to pickleball. We do leagues and we do, single day tournaments as well. So, if you don't want to fully commit; maybe you just hop into a one-day spikeball tournament. We also do sports trivia, so even if you are uncomfortable playing sports but you just want to get out there and be active, you can join anything if you just come in and ask us, we try to be welcoming.

And then we also have clubs. So, we have a lot of different clubs ranging from sport clubs to one of our longest standing clubs—our tabletop gaming club. So, every Friday, we'll have our tabletop gamers in here. We store all their games, they can play whatever they want in our classrooms, they have the space rented out, and that's another thing, a lot of our students don’t know you can rent out our facility for free, as a student. So, if you need a classroom to meet, you can go to our page and go to facility reservations and you can reserve space in this building as well.

Durling, Cishella:
That—wow. I didn't realize just how many ways that the university—or how many options the university offers for students to get physically active. So, when I was on your web page, I came across something called Wellness Watch. Can you describe or give us some information about what that is?

Lavender, Danielle:
So, our Wellness Watch is something that we put together during COVID when we actually weren't allowed to be around each other. This building was actually shut down until, I believe, about June or July. So, there was like a six-month period where we couldn't have contact with each other. We all remember that. So, the Wellness Watch was a way for us to kind of get bite sized chunks of information out, to still contribute to the Wellness side, because we all know COVID did a number on our physical, our mental, and our emotional health. Everything was crazy. So, If I actually go to and look at our Wellness Watch, we had articles ranging from simple meals you could put together, that you know, weren't so terrible, because a lot of us had to remember how to cook during COVID. Anything ranging from mental health, different things, different strategies you could do to kind of break yourself out of the funk. And then, we had breathing exercises, we had simple body weight exercises you could do at home. Pretty much anything that contributed to what we like to think of as wellness and well-being, is what our Wellness Watch was for; not just the physical side, which we were so used to. So, that was really stepping out of our comfort zone for us, and we all got to, kind of, walk that together.

So, that's something we still try to contribute to, but we've kind of moved our Wellness Watch to our social pages. So, our Instagram, we try to put everything on there; so, we highlight students on there, we put different nutritional and fitness hacks on there. Everything that is Wellness Watch—our Wellness Watch kind of grew into just our general communication with our users. Because we realized fitness encompasses so much more. And that's why we tried to start adding that wellness piece because we're more than just what we can physically do, and we understand that fitness and well-being is huge to retention of our students. And any way that we can connect to our students, make them feel tethered, make them understand that we truly do care about them, we want to do that. So, our wellness watch kind of started as, the web-based articles and then it moved into so much more.

Durling, Cishella:
That's wonderful, just another example of how the university is so adaptable and inclusive. So, why would you say it's important for campus rec to offer these services to students beyond just the physical benefits?

Lavender, Danielle:
That is a really good question. I think a lot of times, students, and even just individuals, we see ourselves as individuals, and don't realize that we contribute to the whole. If it weren't for students, we wouldn't exist, we wouldn't be here. And we realize and understand that it’s important for students to have a space. You know, you go to class, you have your dorms, but where can you really just be yourself? Where can you display any and everything? So, like how I talked about our clubs, we have, outside of our fitness clubs, we have dance clubs. I told you we had our tabletop tennis. We have fencing, akito. These are all ways for our students to express themselves and to meet other people and to come together no matter what. Whether you're a man, woman, other, whether you're black, white, brown, red, nothing is really a barrier. This is one where we can meet each other at our base levels. I don't know about you, but I played sports my entire life. There was no truer way to understand and learn about somebody then when you're just all struggling together, trying to get through a basketball game, get through a workout; and that's just something that we've always been able to connect with people on. And if we can get people into the building, that's when we realize we can get them to understand that we do care and that we can come together here and start talking about and having these other conversations. So, I Really believe that campus rec is like, a pivotal piece, and I know a lot of people in this university believe that as well. And I just, I want as many people to come over here as possible so we can just get you in the door and start having those conversations—coming to those understandings of each other. I hope that answered the question.

Durling, Cishella:
Oh, you did that. That's fantastic. And it just goes in alignment with, again, the ideology of the university, to really be a family. And it's so true that it is a cardinal family. And I love finding all of these different departments, like Campus Rec, who see students as a whole and really try to cater to the individual student’s needs so that they can flourish. And I think it’s absolutely wonderful what campus rec is doing by providing all of these free resources for the students here on campus. I mean, you just can't, you can't beat that. And the facility is absolutely beautiful, so, I would encourage everybody who's listening to find their way over there and utilize the wonderful resources that Campus Rec has to offer. So, thank you so much, Danielle, for taking the time to answer some of my questions today, and to help spread awareness about the fitness and wellness programs that Campus Rec offers, thank you.

Lavender, Danielle:
Absolutely. Thank you for having me, inviting me, and listening.

Durling, Cishella:
Absolutely. Well, that's what we're all about here at the Student Affairs Office, is listening to the other departments to help promote what they are trying to do. So, all right, guys, we're going to go ahead and wrap this up with, did you know you can stay up to date on campus events through the Engage website Alright, everybody, see you next time.


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