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Students forego gyms, spring into fair-weathered workouts

Daniel Chi / Lantern photographer

Ohio State students have access to gym facilities and free group fitness classes at the RPAC this quarter, yet some are opting to forego the gym and take their workouts outdoors.

While group fitness classes have cost $50 for full-quarter passes, $30 for half-quarter passes and $5 for a single class, all fitness classes at the RPAC are offered for free to students this quarter. Since the first week of Spring Quarter, about 2,350 people have signed up for group fitness passes – an increase from the more than 1,800 group fitness passes issued in the spring last year, according to the Department of Recreational Sports.

“In partnership with the student governments and the Council (on) Student Affairs, our department moved to the free class model to find a direct way to put student dollars into student programming and help more students live a life a motion,” said Marci Shumaker, Rec Sports associate director for administration.

Meredith Richards, a first-year in medical dietetics, has been taking advantage of the free fitness classes this quarter by taking cycling.

“I definitely hope they keep offering free classes,” Richards said. “It’s a good step in the right direction in getting people to work out who wouldn’t normally. It’s getting more people involved in something that doesn’t seem like exercise.”

Paul Blischak, a fourth-year in mathematics, said he thinks the free fitness classes will help people who are hesitant to try working out by encouraging them to join a class with a friend. However, he said he will not be going to any of the free classes.

“Working out in a group is not my style,” Blischak said. “When I work out, I don’t want to do it where there’s no sunshine and just gray walls and machines.”

Nilang Vyas, a second-year in astronomy, plays tennis, volleyball, cricket and basketball around campus and at nearby parks, and said he appreciates using outdoor courts to play sports.

“It just feels better to be outside,” Vyas said, “especially because we’re always inside.”

Chirag Patel, a fourth-year in aviation engineering, said he prefers exercising outside at Homestead Park in Hilliard, Ohio. In warm weather, he incorporates four miles of running, pull ups, sit ups, push ups and dips into his outdoor workouts.

“It feels better when you’re in nature,” Patel said. “It feels fresh, and it actually feels like a workout.”

John Katsares, personal training coordinator for OSU Rec Sports, said exercising outside with fresh air and vitamin D from sunlight can boost energy levels. Even without equipment, he said there are still ways to get a good workout outside.

“Find a park and do a circuit of running and walking,” Katsares said. “Then hop on a bench and do curl ups.”

As exercising outside and in the more traditional gym setting inside both have their benefits, Katsares suggests exercising in both settings to add variety in workouts.

“Try to vary your workouts in order to maintain adherence and avoid boredom,” Katsares said. “Change the intensity, volume and mode of training on a weekly basis if possible.”

Jessi Jones, a master’s student in Slavic and East European studies, is training for a marathon by using the indoor track in the RPAC but said she will eventually run outside exclusively. She said exercising outside is better for long-distance running.

“It’s more motivational because you’re running past things,” Jones said.

Regardless of preference for outdoor or indoor workouts, Katsares said people looking to get fit should start a new fitness routine slowly and allow for muscle repair between workouts.

“Start gradually, not too hard, too fast. Be consistent, you won’t see gains overnight,” Katsares said. “Allow for adequate rest between workouts – 24 hours between cardio … and 48 hours rest between training similar muscle groups.”

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