The term “fitness class” alone might be enough to make you sweat. Workout classes can seem like a daunting activity, especially if you haven’t had a positive relationship with exercising. However, Stan State’s Campus Recreation is striving to create virtual group exercise (Group X) classes that motivate and empower students to strengthen their bodies and their relationship to exercise by making classes accessible, offering a variety of classes, and building a supportive workout community.
Group X instructor, Viviana Fuentes, explains the importance of physical exercise, especially for students.
“At the end of the day, for your academic success, it’s important to have balance.” As an alumna from Stan State, Fuentes understands the stress of having a full class schedule on top of having to work. She emphasizes the importance of taking time out of your day to take care of your own physical and mental health. Signing up for a 50 minute workout class can be a great way to take a break from the stressors that have built up throughout the week.
Fuentes explains that, through the Group X classes, instructors are aiming to help students manage their stress by taking care of their health. “We really want to create an environment where you relax, you let go of the stress, and focus on building a relationship with your health.”
David Magallanes explains how he joined Group X during the stressful time of the pandemic. “I joined Group X back in fall of 2020 and since then I have never looked back. It has been and still is continuing to be an amazing journey that I am taking with my fellow Stan State classmates and the wonderful staff. They have all been very supportive during this time and have created such a great culture.”
With COVID-19 forcing the closure of our campus gym, students are attending these classes from the comfort of their homes.
The staff at the Recreation Complex are aware that most students do not have access to gym equipment at home. For this reason, they have crafted their workouts to be completely equipment free.
“We are very aware of the students we are serving… we know we have a diverse group of students with diverse economic backgrounds, so equipment is not something that’s going to be accessible [to everyone].”
In order to help students acquire some workout equipment, Campus Recreation is giving away prizes for student attendance. Students who attend five Group X classes are given a jump rope. Students who attend 10 classes get a booty band, and students who attend 15 classes get a yoga mat.
Fuentes recognizes that many people struggle with their relationship to working out. Her advice to those who are seeking to improve this relationship is to start with small goals and to find an activity that truly excites them.
At the end of the day, the goal is simply to move your body. “I think people get carried away with these unattainable goals because of social media,” Fuentes comments, adding that people often get intimidated by the thought of working out, because they may have never learned how to do a proper squat, or how to use gym equipment. However, these skills are not necessary to begin building a healthy relationship with exercising.
According to Fuentes, setting small goals such as walking for 10 minutes a day is an excellent way to start. As you become comfortable with your level of activity, you can transition into something more challenging. In addition to starting small, it’s important to find activities that you genuinely enjoy.
Fuentes suggests asking the workout instructors what classes they think you would enjoy based on the kinds of activity you gravitate towards. “I always tell my students, ‘if you don’t like my class, don’t come back. Try something else!’”
One of the benefits of the Group X program is the variety of classes offered. If you find that you did not enjoy the class you attended, the instructors can help guide you to something better suited to your goals and interests.
“Working out should never be a chore. It should never be something you dread. Working out should be something that creates joy, that helps you connect with your best self,” says Fuentes.
Some students may dislike the idea of being seen while working out. Crystal Gonzalez (senior, Psychology) says that she had this concern when first trying the Group X classes. “I was nervous at first because I thought I had to have my camera on, but I did not have too. You workout at your own pace, private space, and no one is judging you.”
Fuentes explains that students are never required or pressured to turn their cameras on during their Zoom workouts. “We want to create an environment where students feel safe. They do not have to have their cameras on. They don’t have to even talk.”
Madeline De Lara (sophomore, Criminal Justice) is one student who chooses to turn her camera on during these workouts. "At first I was hesitant to join, but after one class I felt comfortable enough to put my camera on. It is a judge free zone, and the instructors are very nice and inviting.”
Although cameras are not required, Fuentes has noticed that when students do turn on their cameras, it encourages others to do the same and allows them to share a more communally motivating experience. “That’s one great thing about Group X. You see others sweating and struggling. I think that has helped students.”
When students allow their peers to see that they are also all struggling and that no one is perfect, it creates a safe environment where they can feel free to just let go and have fun together.
Fuentes explains that struggling isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re doing something positive for your body. “If you’re struggling and it burns, your body is thanking you.”
One of Fuentes’ favorite parts of being a Group X instructor is seeing the growth in mental and physical strength of her students. “I love seeing students grow.” Fuentes explains that hosting these classes are her favorite part of the day because, “we are joyful together, we sweat together, and we’re creating an environment where we can empower each other.”
Fuentes feels grateful that she is able to share her love of fitness with her Group X classes. “I give thanks that we are able to move our bodies, that we’re healthy, and that we can struggle.”
Fuentes says that students will sometimes log on looking stressed and defeated, and when they finish their workout, their energy has completely shifted. “They’re happy, they’re laughing, they’re telling me a joke. That’s how 50 minutes can turn around your day.”
Part of the joy that comes from these classes is the encouragement that students gain from their instructors. “The instructors are very encouraging,” says Gonzalez, adding that they help you believe in your ability to not give up. “If a certain exercise may be too advanced they provide another form for the student to do,” says Gonzalez.
De Lara agrees that the encouragement provided by instructors and the Group X classes are very helpful in reaching your goals. “Joining the group exercise classes have definitely pushed me to stay on track and continue to reach my fitness goals."
Gonzalez encourages students to try out the Group X classes, “Students should try these classes. Dedicate at least one hour of your day to move and relieve stress from school, work, and family,” she adds that in the midst of the pandemic and campus closure, joining these group classes can help you feel like you are still a part of the warrior community.
Tiffani Sandoval (freshman, Business) agrees, sharing her positive experience with Group X. “Group X classes are a great way to workout from the comfort of your home. It’s insane what 30 or 50 minutes of activity can do to you, physically and mentally speaking. It’s a judge free zone, and together we are a community!”
For more information about the Group X fitness classes, visit the Campus Recreation website. Additionally, Fuentes encourages students to follow the Campus Recreation Instagram, where they hold giveaways and provide information on upcoming events.