Sleeping Better… As Easy As a Nature Walk?


If you have trouble falling at sleep at night, you aren’t alone. Nearly half of Americans report mild insomnia, meaning nighttime restlessness. But difficulties getting to sleep aren’t the only problem you could run into. According to the National Institutes of Health, you’re probably sleep deprived if it takes less than 5 minutes for you to fall asleep. If either of these problems sounds familiar, read on for a possible new solution. A new research study out of Japan could aid you in your quest for restful sleep.

Investigators measured what time of day for exercise is best for increasing sleep duration. 71 volunteers took two-hour walks through the forest on 8 different weekend days. Researchers found that the nature walks improved sleep time, with participants reporting feeling more refreshed.

Even more interesting – the study revealed that afternoon walks provided greater sleep than morning walks. It’s possible that evening exercise tires the body more, but the study authors point out that morning walkers reported napping more often after their walk. Regardless of which time is better, the authors concluded that a stroll through nature improved sleep quality and length.

Ready to find your favorite exercise? Head over to !


Wellness Wednesday: What’re YOU Gonna be for Halloween? You Might Think Twice After Reading This…

by Natalie Rich

Halloween should be a time for carefree fun and expression, but some common costumes perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes. And that’s not good for our Cultural Wellness.

Wait…WHA–? Cultural wellness…what in the world?

At Student Wellness, we believe wellness has multiple dimensions, and one of those dimensions is Cultural Wellness, which involves understanding diverse backgrounds while creating safe, inclusive spaces for all to feel welcome.

Research shows that marginalized populations experience higher rates of stress and stress-related health problems, even when we control for factors like socio-economic status and education level. Much of this stress can be linked to repeated, often everyday, experiences of discrimination or bias, like seeing one’s group made fun of in a costume.

crowd on franklin street during Halloween
“crowd on franklin street.” Selena N. B. H. Flickr Creative Commons.


Ok, so what does this have to do with Halloween?

The DTH recently touched on this in an article about costume racism.Halloween costumes that promote racial and ethnic stereotypes make fun of people who are already marginalized. For example, Native Americans make up 2% of the incoming class of UNC first years, and their numbers havedeclined 33% over the last 4 years at UNC, and yet Native American costumes are an ever-popular choice for Halloween in Chapel Hill.

But sporting that “Sexy Pocahontas” costume trivializes the many rich and varied cultural traditions of Native Americans, not to mention the centuries of forced migration and genocide they have endured.

Check out this video made by Native students at UNC about their experience

But, it’s HALLOWEEN! It’s all just a joke…aren’t people being TOO sensitive?

It can be very frustrating to always feel in fear of offending someone, especially when it was not intended. And there aren’t hard and fast rules; what offends one person may seem harmless to another. But just because someone has good intentions does not automatically make the impact harmless.

Recently, a good friend of mine made a passing comment about my body shape that upset me. I confronted her about it after it had been on my mind all day. She could have blown me off and said I was being “too sensitive.” And then we would have fought and I would have felt even worse, and maybe I would have avoided her after that.

She didn’t do that. Instead, she validated my feelings, and she apologized for saying what she said. I knew she never meant to hurt me. But what she said still hurt. She owned it and she apologized and agreed not to make the comment again. And VOILÀ! We are back to hanging out and watching bad TV together.

word "Empathy" in stonework on a bench
“Empathy.” Glenda Sims. Flickr Creative Commons.

Regardless of intent, our actions and words impact other people, and recognizing that impact can improve our relationships. Respecting other identities allows people to feel welcomed and heard—just like my friend made me feel when I confronted her.

We know that certain Halloween costumes offend marginalized groups. Not meaning any harm, or dressing in these costumes “all in good fun” will not change the impact a costume has on that group. So, why not choose a Halloween costume that speaks to inclusion rather than stereotypes?

Find out more about avoiding offensive costumes here and here.

And check out some of our multicultural resources on campus to improve your own Cultural Wellness!


Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

Support CIRSA by Signing Up for a TRX Fusion Specialty Series Class!

Here in the campus rec world at UNC, we have an organization known as CIRSA, which stands for the Carolina Intramural Recreational Sports Association. This is a student organization mentored by Campus Recreation professionals for students who are interested in working in the sports and recreation field professionally in the future in areas such as Sports Marketing, Intramural Sports, Sports Club Management, and Fitness. This program is focused on mentorship, professional development of members, networking opportunities, and attending professional conferences.

CIRSA members work hard for the opportunities to attend these professional conferences, which are help all over the country. As you might imagine, the cost to travel to the conferences is not cheap! Each semester, CIRSA hosts fundraisers that achieve the dual purpose of providing special fitness and recreational opportunities for participants while also raising money to fund conference attendance!

This semester, they’re excited to be offering three TRX fusion classes as part of their fundraiser! TRX is a type of suspension training, which is a workout style that uses your body weight plus gravity to improve muscular strength and endurance through a huge variety of exercises. By simply adjusting your body position during the workout, you can achieve different levels of difficulty in your workout, so there is always opportunity for improvement. Rather than large, bulky machinery, TRX equipment consists of strong, adjustable bands that are mounted to the wall, which you will use for all of the exercises.

Due to the specialized equipment required by the TRX classes and the fact that many people are new to this type of workout, these classes will be small and instructors will be able to provide individualized attention to participants. This means that space is limited, so if you’d like to sign up, you’ll need to register in advance here. A campus recreation membership is required to participate and no refunds will be provided, so if you are unable to attend a class that you signed up for, you may find a friend to attend in your place if you wish.

Cost: $5 per class

Location: RHRC Court 1

TRX – Pilates Fusion (Lauren)

  • Monday, November 17th from 4-5 PM

TRX – Boot Camp Fusion (Sophie)

  • Thursday, November 13th from 4-5 PM
  • Thursday, November 20th from 4-5 PM

Registration for these classes opened YESTERDAY, Monday, October 27th, and closes on Monday, November 10th.

Check out this video to see more of how TRX works to decide if you’re interested in trying it out! Note that the exercises in these classes will be tailored to your fitness and strength level and do not be intimidated by how intense this girl is with her TRX, although it is extremely impressive.

The following pictures were taken during actual TRX specialty fitness classes here at UNC, four of which are offered each semester! You can find out more about signing up for a full TRX specialty fitness class here.

For more information about getting involved with CIRSA, contact CIRSA president Laura Painter for more details!

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to try out a TRX class, get fit and support Campus Rec student leaders!


CIRSA’s Dodgeball Tournament 2014 at UNC

Prepare for CIRSA’s annual dodgeball tournament at UNC!

Some say winners are born. Others say winners are made. Are you ready to find out what you’re made of?


Perfect your agility, strengthen your arms, and claim the dodgeball championship!

On Saturday, November 22nd and Sunday, November 23rd, you and your dodgeball team will face off against other teams to crown this year’s dodgeball champions. The tournament will take place in Rams Head Recreation Center. Not only is dodgeball a great cardio workout, but you can also improve your arm strength and dexterity as you jump to avoid balls and target the opposing team. Last year the tournament was a huge success, and this year the games will be even better Are you ready to beat the reigning champions of Campus Rec dodgeball? Learn more here.

Team requirements: Each team must have at least 6 people, with a maximum of 10. So grab your workout buddies, hallmates, or friends from class and team up for the title!

Tournament set-up: On Saturday, the games will begin with a Round-Robin style matchup. Playoffs for the champion will take place on Sunday.

Team Entry Fee: $30

All funds from the tournament will go towards students interested in pursing sports and recreational careers with CIRSA for their annual conference. CIRSA (Carolina Intramural Recreational Sports Association) is a professional development organization for students interested in the sports and recreation field.

REGISTER NOW FOR THE MOST FUN-FILLED NIGHT OF THE SEMESTER! Text your friends right now to create your team! Click here to register.

Your Mother Was Right Again: Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

If you were one of those kids who wasn’t allowed to leave the table until you finished eating your broccoli, it turns out that your parents were actually doing you a favor through all of those frustrating dinners. It has been a well-known fact for quite some time that fruits and vegetables are “good for you.” However, as simple carbohydrates make up more and more of the typical daily American Diet and fruits and vegetables rarely make an appearance on our plates anymore, it has become increasingly apparent that fruits and vegetables have immense protective effects on our health that we don’t want to miss.

It is recommended that half of the volume of your meal consist of fruits and vegetables when at all possible, in order to meet the daily suggested requirements. Not only does this allow you to get all of the protective benefits of fruits and veggies, it also adds more variety to your diet and creates bulk in a lower-calorie yet more nutrient dense way than most carbohydrate or protein components of your typical meal!

Still not convinced? Take a look at what I mean when I say the “protective effects” of eating plenty of fruits and veggies:


Blood pressure

A study known as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) sought to find out if high blood pressure could be reduced and controlled by dietary management to the same extent as it is known to be controlled by blood pressure lowering medications. Participants ate a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat and the results showed that the participants with high blood pressure saw a drop of about 11.4 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure and 5.5 mmHg in their diastolic blood pressure! These were impressive results that were quite similar to the effect that medication can achieve in lowering blood pressure. Blood pressure control is not just about lowering salt intake, as we often hear. It’s about a healthy diet overall, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables every day!

Cardiovascular disease

High blood pressure can also increase risk of heart disease, which is the biggest killer in the U.S. each year. A HUGE study conducted as a part of the Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study followed the dietary habits of nearly 110,000 men and women for 14 years! The study showed an inverse relationship between average daily consumption of fruits and vegetables and the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, so that those consuming the highest amount of vegetables were shown to have 20% less risk than those who consumed the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables.

Type II diabetes

A study done with a “representative sample” of 16,154 participants in good overall health showed that the consumption of leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, plus fruit lowered risk of developing type II diabetes. Other studies showed that vegetable intake is associated with decreased diabetes risk, especially leafy green vegetables, while fruit intake alone was not significantly associated with decreased risk.

Gastrointestinal health

Fruits and vegetables are rick in insoluble fiber, which helps to maintain the health and regularity of the digestive system. High fruit and veggie consumption can be a natural way to help manage digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, although digestive problems should first be discussed with a doctor.


Cancer is probably one of the scariest diseases that people dread and face more often than we would like to believe. It’s terrifying because it’s not confined to occurring one part of the body and can’t be prevented or treated by one specific course of action. So far, the best known ways to reduce risk of various types of cancer are through a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and physical activity. Over and over, studies have shown that there is a very strong link between fruit and vegetable consumption and reduced cancer risk, possibly due to antioxidants that can be found in fruits and veggies. Eating tomatoes has been linked with reduced risk of prostate cancer in men by providing lycopene to the diet, which is a pigment that makes the tomato red but also a vitamin A-like compound known as a carotenoid, which have been shown to have antioxidant properties. A study report titled “Risk factors for prostate cancer incidence and progression in the health professionals follow-up study” showed that “only 4 factors [in their study] had a clear statistically significant association with overall incident prostate cancer: African-American race, positive family history, higher tomato sauce intake (inversely) and alpha-linolenic acid intake.” Two of these, the dietary components, are under your control, so you might as well take advantage of any chance you can to reduce your own risk.

Even though continued research is being conducted, it’s clear that fruit and vegetable consumption is part of a healthy diet. It can be hard to meet the recommended intakes every day, so nearly everyone can benefit from adding more fruits and vegetables to their diet, and especially new varieties of fruits and veggies that you might not necessarily always eat, because variety is the key to receiving the full spectrum of benefits of a fruit and veggie rich diet! American dietary guidelines suggest that 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day depending on your overall caloric needs, so for a typical 2,000 calorie diet, that makes 9 total servings of fruits and veggies per day! At least half or more of the 9 servings should be vegetables, and even though I typically like most veggies, I know I can definitely improve in this category! If it seems overwhelming to start with 9 servings per day, try to start with adding just one serving of fruit to your breakfast and then one serving each of fruit and vegetables to lunch and dinner. You’ll already be making a huge leap forward toward improving your overall health and reducing your risk for chronic disease by listening to your parent’s advice from when you were 3: don’t leave the table until you eat your fruits and veggies!

Additional source:

1. Vegetables and Fruits: Get Plenty Every Day. The Nutrition Source: Harvard School of Public Health.


Hidden Benefits: How a Workout Changes Your Memory

Cerveau fort

If you’re a college student, here’s another reason to make time for exercise: lifting weights can boost your memory power.

A new study just released from the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests a connection between resistance exercise and memory. Researchers found that an intense workout as short as 20 minutes enhances episodic memory by about 10 percent in young adults (college students – this is us!).

Participants were told to study a series of 90 images, followed by performing a short workout. Subjects returned to the lab 48 hours later and were asked to recall the previous set of images from a series of 180 photos. The group who exercised recalled about 60% of the images, while the control group that didn’t exercise was only able to remember half of the pictures.

“Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost,” said Lisa Weinberg, the Georgia Tech graduate student who led the project.

But why does exercise increase episodic memory ability? Researchers say they think that an acute stress response (like the workout) increases the brain’s response, especially when the content is tied to emotional material (like the photos).

Aaannndd finally, how can you use this study to your advantage? Try a “study-run” pattern. Sit down and study for an hour or two, then follow up with a short but intense run. This study suggests that the run will help you retain the material better than if you hadn’t opted for exercise.

Read the study abstract here.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Wellness Wednesday “Eyes on the Street”: Why Be Active In Your Community?

There are plenty of personal reasons to walk, jog, bike or otherwise actively get around: it increases one’s own ability to get exercise, it’s cheap (or free!), and can have positive mental health outcomes like lower stress and anxiety.

But, actively getting around has greater altruistic benefits as well. Many of these are centered around the “eyes on the street” principle from sociologist Jane Jacobs:

“This is something everyone knows: a well-used city street is apt to be a safe street. A deserted city street is apt to be unsafe.”

The idea here is that the more eyes you have on a given street, the greater sense of community ownership and safety. The spirit of “eyes on the street” is not so much about watching what’s around us, but rather seeing and taking a part in what is around us, and thus, shaping the community.

Here are the “eyes on the street” benefits of actively getting around campus and community by walking, biking, jogging, etc.:

Getting to know community and community members

It sounds like a no-brainer, but actively getting around campus and the community allows us to get better acquainted with neighbors and those around us. When we choose to walk or bike versus drive, we have the ability to interact with those around us by smiling, waving, taking a minute to talk, etc. In the Chapel Hill community, these kinds of connections with surroundings and neighbors can help bridge the UNC campus community to the greater Chapel Hill community.

Neighborhood health and safety benefits

Actively getting around a community also means actively taking part in it. That means acknowledging what we appreciate about a neighborhood, and, importantly, it also means spotting things that seem like they need attention—from a large crack in the sidewalk, to a stray dog, to a jogger who has fallen. This can lead to benefits in crime-reduction and generally making things safer.

Increases community norms around activity

Actively getting around campus and community is contagious. The more people you see walking around, the more likely you might be to walk around yourself! In this way, being an active commuter is a way of changing social norms around activity.


These are just some of the community-wide benefits of actively getting around a community. Though we’ve focused on the benefits of actively getting around, it’s important to be safe while doing so. For more information on pedestrian and cyclist safety check out links at the UNC Department of Public Safety, and the Town of Chapel Hill.

Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

The Importance of Good Posture

You sit down at your desk to start that paper that you’ve been procrastinating for the entirety of Fall Break: for those first 15 minutes of staring blankly at the empty Microsoft Word page on your computer, you’re sitting up straight, your back against the back of the chair, and your feet are on the floor. By the time you come up with a thesis, you’re sitting on one foot you’ve tucked under the other leg and the distance between your face and the computer screen has been cut in half. By the end of the introduction, it looks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame is sitting at your computer, and by the end of the first page, you’re just typing a million ”g’s” because your face is laying on the keyboard. Good posture isn’t found on the priority list of most college students, but it can have a drastic impact on your long-term health.

Maintaining good posture means sitting in a way that allows your bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to all be in proper alignment so that no particular area or part of your body has an unnecessary amount of stress placed on it. Proper posture prevents joint and muscle pain that can become almost permanent over time as the stress causes damage to your body. Improper posture can increase your risk of arthritis and even limit proper organ and nervous system function if you’re constantly hunched over so much that your torso is significantly shorter than it should be.

ID-100148426Holding poor posture on a regular basis can be a result of both weak muscles and overly tight muscles. Stress and long hours of sitting in the same place, working on a computer, for example, can cause the neck, shoulder, and back muscles to tighten up and encourage bad posture as we hunch and lean and sag to try to compensate for the tension we’re feeling. If your abdominal muscles are weak, your posture will also suffer significantly because the core muscles are essential for supporting the spine and even aligning the hips as you walk and sit, which is just another reason to be sure you’re making time to incorporate some core strengthening exercises into your routine.

It seems like we often recognize bad posture when we see it or feel it, but could you demonstrate perfect posture if you were asked? Proper posture is different if you’re sitting, standing, lying down, or exercising. Here are some tips for improving your posture no matter what you’re up to:

If you’re sitting:

Start by lengthening your torso and “sitting up straight.” You’ll probably be surprised at how much you were just slouching without even realizing it! Roll your shoulders back to relax them and align them with your hips, and place your feet flat on the floor so that your torso-to-thigh and thigh-to-calf angles should both be 90 degrees. Make sure you’re not holding tension in your shoulders and keeping them up too high or hunching them forward toward whatever you’re working on, even though it’s always quite tempting.

If you’re standing:

Your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles should all be in one lovely straight line for optimal standing posture. It’s best to stand with your feet about hip-distance apart instead of with feet together or spread widely. You’ll also want to keep your toes pointing forward, avoid locking the knees, keep equal weight in both legs or shift back and forth slightly, and keep the spine long and straight. Think about how in movies, children are taught to maintain proper walking posture by walking while balancing a book on their heads. There really is benefit to keeping the chin up and parallel to the floor, because it helps to keep your back straight and your shoulders down and back, as well!

If you’re sleeping:

Maintaining good posture while sleeping can be extremely difficult because it’s always just easiest to lay the way that feels most comfortable instead of sleeping in a way that’s best for your spine. I’m always tempted to sleep sprawled out on my stomach, but this is actually one of the worst positions in which to sleep according to the American Chiropractic Association. Sleeping on your stomach can cause the spine to be curved backward more than it should, causing unnecessary strain on the back muscles and that unwanted soreness in the morning when you finally try to roll over. The best ways to sleep for your spine and muscular health are on your side with a pillow between your legs, or on your back with a pillow under your knees. These sleeping positions might take a little getting used to, but can actually be quite comfortable if you’re willing to give it a try, and can help you to sleep better by reducing stress on your body.

If you’re exercising:

When exercising, posture is more commonly referred to as “proper form,” but is just as important as during all other times of your daily life. During weight lifting exercises especially, it’s important to keep the shoulders and shoulder blades down and back and the chest and face up and forward, as they would be when you’re standing. Make sure that you learn the proper form for any exercise before you attempt it or do that exercise regularly to ensure maximum benefit and minimal damage to your body. If you feel that you have poor posture in your daily life, incorporating gentle muscle-strengthening exercises into your week, such as yoga or light weight lifting can help you gain the strength to naturally hold your body in a healthier position. Superman and cobra poses and exercises can be great for strengthening weak back muscles and stretching out the abdominals, and the Warrior yoga poses can be good for stretching out your hips if they have that achy feeling after a long day of sitting.

The good news is that you are completely in control of your posture, and it’s never too late to make great changes to improve your health and comfort! It can be so hard to pay attention to something as seemingly simple as the way we stand, sit, or ever sleep, but just developing this healthy habit can have long-lasting benefits to our overall health. In addition to improving your skeletal and muscular health, proper posture can also help you to simply look more respectable in a meeting, classroom, or interview setting and portrays a confident appearance as opposed to an apathetic, tired appearance if you’re slouching over the table in your seat. Comfort is important, but before you curl into a tiny ball in one of the comfortable chairs in the library, consider giving a day of good posture a try to improve not only your health and long-term comfort, but to create a setting of wakefulness and focus as you sit down to finish that paper!



Fall Specialty Fitness Programs Round 2 – Don’t Miss Out!

If you weren’t able to get in on the fitness and fun the first time around, here’s your second chance this semester! UNC Campus Rec is offering a second set of specialty fitness classes starting soon. These courses are all great fun, and I hope to see some more of our readers again this time around!

I took the boot camp class earlier this semester, and it was one of the greatest workout classes I’ve ever completed. The classes were initially easy, but progressively increased in intensity as our fitness level improved. The final class was a true testament to the progress of our group! To read more about what the boot camp class is like, check out What Happens in a Boot Camp Class? and What Happens in a Boot Camp Class? Part II.

Fall weather is fluttering in, and you must not forget to register this time! To get started on your fall fitness journey, register in the SRC main office and pay the required fee. These programs have a small cost, because a trained instructor designs and specializes them.

So what programs are in the next round of fall specialty fitness classes? The wait is over! Here’s the list of upcoming programs. Notice the “try before you buy” class- this allows you to sample any course before committing.

TAR HEEL TABATA (Pat) - You can do anything for 20 seconds! How about 20 seconds, times 8 times 4? Test your cardiovascular endurance and power through this new exhilarating workout that uses short work and rest intervals to maximize the impact of your workout. Tabata training is a form of High Intensity Interval Training in which you perform an exercise at maximum intensity for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds.  See results with this express cardio and strength workout!

Cost: $25 (10 sessions)
Location: SRC Studio B
Try Before You Buy: Monday, October 20, 2014 (no registration necessary)
Days/Time: Mondays & Wednesdays @ 4:30-5:00pm
Dates: October 22, 2014 – November 24, 2014 (5 weeks)
Registration Opens: Monday, October 6th
Registration Closes: Wednesday, October 22nd

TRX SUSPENSION TRAINING (Craig and Meghan) - This 10-session functional fitness program will challenge your muscular strength and core function with every exercise.  You will participate in group workouts focused on improving strength, power, and calorie expenditure.  Our exercise intensity will provide great results while the versatility of the TRX will help maintain your motivation. Space is limited, so reserve your spot early!

Cost: $55 (10 sessions)
Location: RHRC Court 1
Try Before You Buy: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (no registration necessary)
Days/Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 7:00-8:00am (Craig)
Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 5:30-6:30pm (Meg)
Dates: October 23, 2014 – December 2, 2014 (5 weeks)
Registration Opens: Monday, October 6th
Registration Closes: Wednesday, October 22nd

BOOT CAMP (Sabrina and Meg) - Boot Camp is an hour-long high-intensity athletic workout. We utilize intense sets of exercises and drills followed by short rest periods to create a powerful fitness workout. This program is great for improving cardiovascular fitness, achieving or maintaining healthy body weight, improving body composition, increasing strength, and improving athletic performance.

Cost: $30 (10 sessions)
Location: RHRC Court 1 & Outdoors
Try Before You Buy: Monday, October 20, 2014 (no registration necessary)
Days/Time: Mondays & Wednesdays @ 6:30-7:30am (Meg)
Mondays & Wednesdays @ 5:15-6:15pm (Sabrina)
Dates: October 22, 2014 – November 24, 2014 (5 weeks)
Registration Opens: Monday, October 6th
Registration Closes: Wednesday, October 22nd


This 8-session workout is focused on instructional methods for using a barbell and will challenge your body in new ways. This group workout will consist of safety, proper form and technique instruction, as well as a challenging total body workout. This class is focused on increasing muscular strength and endurance while educating you on various training methods.

Cost: $30 (8 sessions)
Location: SRC Studio B and Woollen Weight Room
Days/Time: Mondays & Wednesdays @ 3-4pm (Sophie)
Dates: October 27, 2014 – November 19, 2014 (4 weeks)
Registration Opens: Monday, October 6th
Registration Closes: Wednesday, October 22nd

Love training with the TRX, but don’t have the time to sign up for a specialty fitness class? We will be offering three TRX classes this semester outside of our specialty fitness class series. ALL of the proceeds go tostudent leaders in Campus Recreation. These leaders are a part of a student group called CIRSA, where they engaged in professional development through leadership opportunities and conference attendance!

To sign up for these classes, please register in advance here (space is limited; UNC campus recreation membership required; no refunds). 

Cost: $5 per class
Location: RHRC Court 1
TRX – Pilates Fusion (Lauren)
Monday, November 17th from 4-5 PM
TRX – Boot Camp Fusion (Sophie)
Thursday, November 13th from 4-5 PM
Thursday, November 20th from 4-5 PM
Registration opens: Monday, October 27th
Closes: Monday, November 10th
Get Fit and Support Campus Rec Student Leaders!

Increase Your Strength and Tone Those Arms with Group Fitness

Earlier this week, I took advantage of the fact that I had no labs to attend since it’s Fall Break week and decided to check out two group fitness classes that I had never before attended at the SRC. On Monday, I attended Muscle Cut Barbells, instructed by Meg, and on Tuesday I attended Upper Body Conditioning with Sabrina.

In the muscle cut barbells class, you use a step, a mat, and a barbell with your choice of weight on it. The bars used for this class are different than the larger bars used in the weight room downstairs in the SRC. The weight room bars weigh approximately 45 pounds before any free weights are added to them, while the bars for the group fitness class weigh less than 5 pounds, allowing you to control exactly how much weight you want to use with the free weights. The free weights used for the class are 10 lb., 5 lb., and 2.5 lb. weights. Because the class is an hour long and you’ll be using the barbell for the majority of the class time, you’ll want to use considerably less weight than you can actually bench press—in fact, you may want to cut your maximum bench press weight in half, at least. This class is about increasing strength, muscle tone, and endurance incrementally, so when I asked, Meg suggested starting out with only 30 pounds on the bar. I also brought two extra 5 lb. and 2.5 lb. free weights to my step with me so that you can both use the free weight alone and adjust your weight during the class for the different exercises.

This class used a huge variety of exercises to target not just arms and legs, but abs, chest, back, and shoulders as well! This is another reason you’re not going to want to try to use too much weight, because if you do you might not be able to move the next day. When we weren’t using the bar, we used free weights (which are the weight plates for the bar without actually putting them on the bar) to target some muscles, including triceps. I thought that Meg was a fantastic instructor and was great about giving tips throughout the class to help you make sure you’re maintaining proper form to protect your joints. I also really appreciated the fact that she wasn’t one of those instructors who acts like what they’re telling you to do is the easiest thing in the world; you could definitely feel that she was working along with you as she taught and that she was feeling the burn too, and I like that. I left this class feeling tired but awesome, and I was impressed that I could get such a fantastic weightlifting workout at the SRC without ever stepping into the sweaty weight room.

On Tuesday, I went to the upper body conditioning class taught by Sabrina even though I knew my arms were already exhausted because I wanted to be able to compare the two classes and next week I’ll be spending my Tuesday evening in dreaded lab again. This class uses a step, a mat, a resistance band, and one set each of light dumbbells and heavy dumbbells based on what works for you. I used 5 lb. and 8lb. dumbbells, which both actually seem pretty heavy when you’re holding your arms straight out to the sides and keeping them there for several seconds. Also, who knew that a simple resistance band could have your arms quaking within seconds and that by the end of the class even holding a simple plank position seems impossibly difficult on your new arms that now feel like Harry Potter’s after Professor Lockhart accidentally dissolved his bones.

The class also incorporated short ab workout sequences in between sets of arm workouts, which gave my arms a nice break and focused on strengthening the core, which is essential to proper form in all weight lifting workouts. I appreciated that Sabrina gave variations of the exercises for when my arms were too tired to do the hardest level of tricep dips on the step and that she left time to do some really good stretching at the end of the class, which I definitely needed. Sometimes it seems like the stretching is a rushed afterthought to a workout class, but she seemed to really appreciate the necessity of it and my arms were also quite appreciative of that.

If you’re not accustomed to regular weight lifting, you’ll likely be sore no matter what level of weight you use or how much stretching you do afterwards. Check out my blog from earlier this week on foam rolling to release the muscle tension in your legs especially to prevent unnecessary soreness! After these workouts, I foam rolled my leg muscles and barely felt much soreness at all the next day, even if I couldn’t quite touch my toes like I normally can. However, I wasn’t exactly sure how I could use a foam roll on my arms, and the next few days were a testament to that as I tried to appear nonchalant every time I struggled just to lift my own backpack onto my back between classes.

Overall, both classes were excellent and left me extremely sore for the next two days, so I know my muscles were definitely working! My suggestions? Don’t go to these two classes two days in a row if you’d like to be able to wash your hair or pull a shirt over your head without grimacing in pain for the rest of the week. Also be sure to check out a towel when you swipe into the SRC to place on top of the grooved surface on top of the step when you do pushups to prevent your palms from looking like pink crinkle cut French fries. If you want to incorporate a fantastic muscle-toning workout into your weekly routine, be sure to check out Muscle Cut Barbells at 6:45pm on Mondays at the SRC and Upper Body Conditioning with Sabrina at 4pm, also at the SRC! And… I’m going to say it one more time… don’t forget to stretch!


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