WesBAM! Helps Students Get Fit
As the stressful semester ramps up, many students may be overwhelmed with work and looking for a way to relax their minds. WesBAM! offers everything from yoga to kickboxing as well as some exercise routines that would leave even the most intrepid gym rats sore the next day.
According to co-manager Shira Engel ’14, the group’s goal is to have students who are licensed instructors teach classes specifically to increase mind-body awareness and physical fitness. They also want to make sure the classes are accessible and affordable. In an effort to be financially available to everyone on campus, WesBAM! cut the cost of classes by 50 percent from Wexercise’s prices last year—each hour or 90-minute class costs about five dollars.
Last year, Engel and Renee Dunn ’14, currently abroad, applied to be co-managers of Wexercise, the group that organized non-credit classes offered by the Wesleyan Office of Health Education (WesWell). Engel and Dunn are certified instructors in yoga and kickboxing, respectively. After their first meeting with their faculty advisor, however, they realized they wanted to make accessibility their primary focus. They also wanted to be sustainable as a student group, run exclusively by student instructors, for Wesleyan students.
This past summer, Engel and Dunn brainstormed about how they could make non-credit fitness classes accessible and inexpensive at Wesleyan. They also decided to focus on how one can incorporate mindfulness into one’s fitness regimen.
Some of the classes offered by the instructors include different types of yoga, as well as cardio kickboxing, Zumba—a combination of dancing and aerobics—and Krav Maga, which is an Israeli form of martial arts.
Trevor Dorn-Wallenstein ’15 is WesBAM!’s Krav Maga instructor. The class meets from 5-6 p.m. on Saturdays in the Fayweather dance studio.
“The course that I am teaching will be an introduction to both the techniques and mentality of Krav Maga, while including a great workout,” Dorn-Wallenstein said.
Krav Maga is mostly defensive, and Dorn-Wallenstein believes that many of the skills are relevant to students.
“[We’ll] be focusing on a lot of situations—chokes, headlocks, basic ground fighting, rape prevention—that I think a lot of Wes students would benefit from,” he said.
In an attempt to turn Wexercise from a University-provided program to a sustainable student organization, WesBAM! has been disaffiliated with WesWell but maintains a faculty advisor on staff. Engel said that the presence of a faculty advisor has been indispensable because of the technical and administrative advice and support she provides for the co-managers.
One of the main hopes of WesBAM! is for students to take initiative in adding a mind-body aware fitness class to their lifestyle at college.
Engel noted that stressful college schedules cause some students to skip out on fitness practices that could, in fact, enhance their learning experiences. WesBAM! classes are therefore meant to be mentally enriching as well as physically beneficial.
“[WesBAM! is about] nurturing your body and mind at the same time,” Engel said.
Engel noted that, for some people, college can be socially overwhelming, and it can be hard for many people to meet new friends. However, if students are attending a WesBAM! class, they are already making a commitment to incorporating mindfulness into their fitness practice and meeting people at the same time.
“It’s a great way to meet like-minded people,” Engel said.
Engel’s belief is that, while in class, students can meet other people who have also made the same commitment to mindful fitness, as well as the instructors, who are students themselves.
“[We want to] create a Thursday yoga community in our Thirsty Thursdays class, where we are both teachers and students at the same time,” explained Leigh Stewart ’13, another instructor, in an email to The Argus.
To reach out to students who usually don’t attend fitness classes on campus, such as men or athletes, WesBAM! has launched a new class, called BroGa. It is a yoga class aimed at men and male athletes who are interested in incorporating the benefits of yoga into their lifestyle. Another purpose of BroGa is to stress the convenience of WesBAM! to Wesleyan students of all fitness levels.
Yet another aim of the group is to incorporate non-exercise workshops into WesBAM!’s schedule that will help students exercise their bodies and minds in a healthy way. Ideas for workshops include classes with guest teachers, movie screenings, and body-love discussions.
WesBAM! also has a blog which includes topics such as fitness, wellness, and holistic health. All students are encouraged to visit the site and send an email to Engel with suggestions or critiques.
Classes have already begun, with the first courses offered this past Sunday. Drop-in costs are five dollars per class, but packages are available; a six-class pack is 25 dollars, while the semester package of twelve classes is 50 dollars. Classes range from one hour to 90 minutes and occur weekly with the same teacher. Most classes occur in the Fayerweather studios.
The full schedule can be found at http://wesbam.weebly.com/schedule.html.