The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Group fitness fervor: How did the free first week go in the Recreational Eagle Center?

Hephzibah Ohihoin
Zumba class is progress.

With the winter break coming to an end and the Spring semester rolling in, some students at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse decided to start the week with a variety of fitness activities offered by the Recreational Eagle Center (REC). Every semester, the REC offers free group fitness classes during the first week of classes.

Third-year Student and Zumba Instructor Krista Mayberry discovered a passion for teaching Zumba after regularly going to the class during her first-year at UWL. She had no prior experience before this but she quickly fell in love with the activity.

“It could be something that I do more throughout my life but it wasn’t really ever planned, it just happened,” said Mayberry.

The free week brought in a lot of new students to Mayberry’s class.

“It’s just a way bigger group. Last week I had thirty to forty people in the class and sometimes when it’s not free week it’s probably closer to ten,” said Mayberry. “It was really cool to see a bunch of people that had never done Zumba before so I had to be a little bit more energetic than normal and sell the class a little bit more.”

Mayberry added that the new class size came with its challenges. “Normally I have a solid group of people that already know the routines and know what to expect but I had to explain what I was doing more. When you have a smaller group it’s easier to start remembering people that come in and then you can have more of a connection with them.”

While preparing for the free week, Mayberry said she was hoping that people would just be ready to try something new because Zumba is more creative and a little awkward on the first attempt.

“It’s a little scary to just get up and dance in front of people but the group was really good. They were all very open-minded and were willing to have a good time,” she said.

Mayberry attributes her teaching style to her previous instructor who inspired her to get into Zumba.

“The instructor that I went to was really, really over the top in a good way and it made me think- ‘I love doing good [sic] at class because it’s such an open and happy environment’. I want to make that kind of environment for people that come to my classes too,” said Mayberry.

She continued, “I try to make it a lot of fun, be super encouraging, over the top, and maybe a little bit weird. I try to make personal connections even though we don’t have too much face-to-face time and try to be more personal about it even though it’s such a big group.”

“It was very exciting to be able to see people who don’t normally come to the fitness classes get to experience it without having to pay,” said Mayberry. “Just being able to be in a less stressful environment where you don’t have to go into the big fitness center and lift. You can just come and dance for forty-five minutes!”

Fourth-year Student Chloe Renzelmann started teaching cycling in 2021. She currently teaches a cycling class every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 pm. With a background in track and competitive dancing, Renzelmann refers to herself as an avid exerciser.

“It was really fun to kinda see all the different people who were trying it for the first time. Looking around the room I saw a lot of smiling faces. I tried to do a really big variety of music, kind of gauging what people liked in that first week,” said Renzelmann.

With an exception to the free week, Renzelmann also believes that the new year might have motivated more new people to join.

Renzelmann said, “At the beginning of a new year people are full force in their fitness goals and fitness motivations.” She continued, “I’m hoping that those people found a niche in my cycling class and are able to continue doing it throughout the year.”

Renzelmann takes great care to make her class suitable for her students. She explained that she spent some time each class asking students how they felt on their bikes, and how they felt about the workouts.

“Once I do that and I’m up in front of the room I usually do an energy check throughout class and usually when people start hooting or hollering I know that they’re having a good time,” said Renzelmann.

She also believes that her implementation of dance in the workouts is a big appeal for her class. “I enjoy doing more of a rhythmic cycling so I like going to the beat of the music and adding in little bits of choreography,” Renzelmann added.

Renzelmann concluded by saying, “When you come to my cycling classes it’s a safe place, it’s a time to decompress from the day and let go of anything else that’s going on outside of the room. I try to bring that kind of relaxed and not peaceful but more fun, lighthearted atmosphere to my cycling classes.”

Second-year Student, Anna Baxter also teaches a cycling class. Majoring in elementary/middle education (EME), Baxter said the skills she has learned in the classroom have been very helpful in her cycling classes as it’s her first time teaching one.

Baxter said, “I knew that for free week it would probably be beginner students so I made the classes a little bit not as challenging, just kind of like talked through the moves more and made it more elementary-level.” She continued “I knew there would be a lot of new people trying it out and I didn’t want to scare them away from it. Classes on how to teach really helped me.”

Baxter explained her strategy for keeping her students engaged throughout the class. She incorporated the class into the music by creating a QR code that could be scanned by students who want to recommend a song for the class playlist. She also created themes for each session.

“Today we did a boy band theme so I did One Direction and then Thursday I’m gonna teach with girl groups so I’m going to do Destiny Child [and] Little Mix,” said Baxter.

“I know cycling can seem intimidating sometimes but it’s definitely something that gets super fun the more you do it,” said Baxter. “I want everyone to know how strong they are and that I’m so proud of them.”

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About the Contributor
Hephzibah Ohihoin
Hephzibah Ohihoin, General Assignment Reporter
Year at UWL:  First PGPs: She/Her Hometown: Sabongida-Ora, Edo State, Nigeria. Major: English Minor: Legal Studies and Creative Writing Other Campus Involvement: Xi Alpha Ministry, Cru, ALANA, Pre-Law Organization and BSU Future Plans after Graduation: Law School Favorite activity in La Crosse: Playing badminton and pickleball
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