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Yoga club president bends stereotypes

Amber Evans / Lantern photographer

While the perception of yoga is that it is an activity largely exercised by females, the president of Ohio State’s yoga club happens to be male.

Michael Fitzsimons, a fourth-year in industrial and systems engineering, is one of only two male officers in the yoga club this year. Founded two years ago, this year’s club is the largest in its history,

The club began with just five members, and has now grown to about 80 enrolled members. Fitzsimons said he expects this number to continue to rise with the club’s open enrollment policy. Currently, the cost to join the yoga club is $10 for the quarter and $20 for the year, according to the clubs constitution.

Meetings are held multiple times a week with typically 60 attendees, the majority of which are females. The club is quickly reaching the 70 people occupancy limit for their practice space at the RPAC, Fitzsimons said.

“We’ve come really close, but we haven’t gone over it yet,” he said. “I actually already had to talk to our scheduling intern about what we should do if we get that many people. We’ll either go to the women’s field house or maybe try to go to a different multipurpose room.”

The majority of the yoga classes are led by instructors from Balanced Yoga, a yoga studio in Clintonville, but Fitzsimons will be leading two yoga sessions this quarter, he said.

Danny Snider, a then second-year in psychology, formed the club in fall of 2009 because of his passion for yoga. Snider graduated in June.

“I was interested in yoga and wanted it to be available for students at a really cheap rate,” Snider said. “And at the same time I was interested in developing community. Just development of body, mind and intention.”

Fitzsimons said he met Snider in spring of 2010 when he joined the club to recover from injuries he suffered while playing high school sports.

“I was so injured from playing rugby and other sports in high school so I wanted to heal my body, and it’s definitely helped,” Fitzsimons said.

Snider said he took notice of Fitzsimons’ progress.

“Mike had a really debilitating injury,” Snider said. “He’s come so far since he’s started. I’ve been able to watch him, I was his teacher I guess you might say. He really picked it up quickly and was just really into it from the beginning.”

Rachel Weiler, a fourth-year in food science and nutrition and vice president of the yoga club, has also seen Fitzsimons’ dedication to the group.

“He’s a very dedicated president,” Weiler said. “He’s willing to go out of his way. He wants to see the club succeed no matter what.”

After Fitzsimons graduates he hopes to pursue a certification to become a yoga instructor, even if he is able to find a job in industrial engineering, he said.

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