By Rachel Mills/Review staff writer
The Linfield campus boasts athletes galore: student athletes who nurse various aches and pains as they walk home from practice, joggers gasping for breath racing down the sidewalk with headphones on, IM teams conducting practice before games begin. The weight room is full of students running on treadmills or lifting weights, and there always seems to be swimmers in the pool.
But for some students, none of these opportunities are appealing. Take senior Grant Harmon, for example.
“I don’t like jogging,” Harmon said. “But I wanted some way to get a cardio workout.”
Harmon found his alternative in the form of ecstatic dance. Led by Christine Kirk, yoga, aqua aerobics and aerobics instructor on
campus, Harmon and a group of other students meet twice a month to express themselves through dance and get a good workout at the same time.
Kirk offers ecstatic dance at 5:30 p.m. two Thursdays each month, senior Megan Wills said. The students stretch, and then they are given an opportunity to dance in whatever way suits them.
“The music starts slow and gets faster as we go,” Wills said. “Some of the music is instrumental, some is lyrical. You can choose how you dance. If you want to jump the whole time or roll around on the floor,
For Wills, ecstatic dance is a workout, but it’s also a way to lose herself in the music and dancing and let the cares of the world disappear.
“You just dance for yourself,” Wills said. “It’s a lot of fun. Everything else just goes away.”
Every dancer has their own reasons for rhythmic expression.
“It’s about getting in touch with yourself,” Harmon said. “I don’t really see dance as a form of exercise, but more of a way to find joy in yourself.”
But at the same time, Harmon said, the hour-long dance sessions are good workouts. He also found the additional focus on strength and flexibility to be useful.
Like Harmon and Wills, students all across campus are finding creative ways to get exercise. Some participate in organized events, like ecstatic dance, but others organize their own events.
The eight-minute ab workouts in Mahaffey Hall’s lounge are a good example. Five students exercise together, and they aren’t part of an organized group.
“We just meet to do abs,” freshman Anders Van Sandt said.
He said that freshman Nelly Evans first coordinated what has now become tradition.
“I was bored one day, so I asked a friend if she wanted to do a five-minute ab workout,” Evans said.
Her friend agreed, but they decided to turn it into an eight-minute workout, using a watch that beeps every minute the group rotates between a repertoire of fifteen ab sets.
“We do eight sets, but they aren’t always the same sets,” Evans said.
Some of the group’s ab sets are fairly standard, said Van Sandt, such as scissor kicks and leg lifts.
“We also have a lot of ridiculous ones,” Evans said, naming the “Elvis Pelvis” and “Around the World” as two examples. “When people walk through the lounge, they stare at us and don’t even ask.”
The workouts aren’t just about abs, Van Sandt said.
“Tickle fights are inevitable,” he said. “But laughing while doing abs is a great workout, so it’s okay,” Evans said with a grin.
Senior Angela Henderson has also participated in some random forms of exercise during her years on campus, but few of Henderson’s activities take place indoors.
As the president of the Outdoor Club, Henderson has organized and participated in a variety of trips that keep her in shape and let her explore Oregon simultaneously.
“We try to do at least one backpacking trip per semester,” she said. “We go white water rafting with LAB, hiking, cross country skiing and
Henderson said the club currently offers rock climbing on Tuesday nights at the Church on the Hill.
On her own, Henderson finds even more ways to get exercise.
“I like to go on runs,” she said. “I raced in the ‘Run for the Cheetah’ and ‘The Run Like Hell’ half marathon.”
Henderson has climbed Mount St. Helen and Old Snowy and has gone mountain climbing with ice axes and crampons, she said. In addition, she gets exercise each day simply by biking back and forth from campus to her home a mile and a half away. This, Henderson said, is the best way to get exercise.
“Avoid the car,” she said. “Find ways to get around without driving. The miles add up when you are on a bike.”
She also invites students to get involved in the Outdoor Club. Students can sign up by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another simple way to find cool off-campus exercise options is through the LAB Outdoor Programs, events coordinator Courtney Johnson said.
Johnson said she encourages students to look at the opportunities on campus, both those offered by LAB and those offered by the Health, Human Performance and Althletics department. She said the weight room has a personal training program free to students. Trainers are available to help students get a personalized exercise program or weight and endurance training.
The HHPA department also offers a variety of obscure classes that are good exercise options, including African dance, scuba and a variety of intercollegiate sports.
“We’re all about exercise and health,” Johnson said. “We offer lots of options for students as long as they are willing to look.”
She said all events are advertised in the residence halls and in the Campus Information Center. Most events have 10 positions for students, although sometimes the group will take two vans or team up with a club, such as the Skiing Club, and take a bus.
Johnson said the program offers a variety off-campus exercise options, including bungee jumping, white water rafting, hiking, ice skating, runs, surfing and kayaking. On campus, Johnson is offering swimming lessons and Zumba, a dance and aerobics cardio workout, on some Thursday nights.
The LAB Outdoor Program is always open to suggestions, Johnson said.
“We are always looking for new ideas to give students options to exercise,” she said.
Acting on a suggestion from a student, Johnson is looking into offering a sea kayaking trip in the future. She also wants to host a volleyball tournament in the spring complete with elimination and prizes.
Outside of Linfield, college students across the country are trying more and more new forms of exercise. Zumba is a good example. According to zumbafitness.com, this aerobic workout was created in the mid-90s by fitness trainer Alberto “Beto” Perez as a way to combine traditional Latin rhythms and new dance steps.
Even simple childhood toys are being transformed into pieces of exercise equipment. Gyms such as Curves sell weighted hula hoops, cautioning their members to start out using the hoop for just a few minutes and gradually working up to a twenty-minute workout.
To freshman exchange student Mai Takegawa, using toys as workout tools is nothing new. Takegawa has been performing in rhythmic gymnastics for more than four years, using hoops, balls, ribbons, clubs and ropes to perform routines.
Takegawa said she competed in individual events when she was a member of the rhythmic gymnastics team at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, Japan. She plans to continue competing when she returns
Though Takegawa’s routines last only a minute and a half, she said each one requires a lot of endurance and flexibility. The gymnasts must maintain their level of performance while manipulating one of the five
Each routine is a workout for Takegawa, who believes that rhythmic gymnastics is just as tiring as typical sports. Her favorite apparatus, the hoop, merges many gymnastics and cardio elements into a single routine.
“We combine jumps and balancing and ballet moves,” Takegawa said. “But we do it all with a hoop.”
From ecstatic dance to eight-minute abs to rhythmic gymnastics, Linfield students are finding creative ways to exercise. Want to get a workout but you don’t like the normal way per se? Not