Toner bodies, better grades, UND students say there’s a linkHalf of UND’s student body uses the wellness center, which offers about 62 classes throughout the week.
By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald
Grimacing from exertion as they worked out at UND’s Wellness Center, the students lunged forward while swinging a long hollow tube, which can weigh up to 22 pounds.
The twice-weekly workout centers on the philosophy of ViPR, which stands for vitality, performance and reconditioning. After 15 minutes of lifting and lunging, a few participants started mopping their foreheads.
“It’s just a good workout for your whole body, not just specific areas,” said Kelsey Torgeson, 20, a student in a recent ViPR class.
Half of UND’s student body uses the 106,000-square-foot facility, and more sign up each year, reflecting a nationwide push toward healthier lifestyles. On a busy day, 2,000 might pass through its doors, including a small number of staff and faculty, using it for many activities, from personal training to group exercise classes, such as ViPR.
Fitness coordinator Stephanie Hoffman said student usage has increased in the past five years as many are becoming more aware of the implications of not being active. And, she said, they’re seeing a positive effect on their academic life, too.
“There could be less stress involved with tests and finals,” Hoffman said. “It might also provide them with the organizational skills of having to schedule times to exercise.”
Two recent UND studies found a link between wellness and academic success, with one noting 63 percent of students claimed to have improved their grades by participating in wellness programs.
Several students in the ViPR class agreed with the connection.
“If you’re willing to put this much effort in at the gym, you’re probably also going to put that effort into a lot of other things that will benefit you,” said Morgan Otey, 18. “I’d say there’s a pretty good correlation.”
The center’s wide range of group exercise classes, from turbo kick to yoga, have proven to be a popular draw for students.
Torgeson said paying a small fee for the class holds her accountable to working out. She’s taken several classes and signed up for ViPR after her lack of effort “started showing” last year, she said. She’s since upped her workouts to five or six times a week and feels she’s getting more accomplished.
“If I’m sitting on the couch, I might feel like sitting on the couch all day and not doing anything,” she said. “But if I’m doing this, and I have a job, then I’m always going. I like it better when I’m busier.”
James Marvin, 26, joined the class and climbs the center’s rock wall to prevent returning to the “fat kid” he used to be.
“You can eat whatever you want so long as you work it off, but there’s only a certain amount that can be said for not actually doing anything,” he said.
Physical wellness is not the only focus of UND’s wellness department. Classes span spiritual, career development, cooking and other topics as part of the university’s multidimensional approach to health.
Hoffman believes students have been taking more of these classes in part because of the educational efforts by public health departments. Otey noted that with all of the problems people suffer from today, maintaining a good lifestyle is important.
She said she works out not to look fit but because she enjoys it.
“The way I’m going now, I don’t think I could stop doing this,” she said. “I’d rather put in the hard work now and have a good lifestyle for the rest of my life instead of having to deal with all of the health risks of not working out and being overweight.”
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