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Student life gets busy, and throwing exercise in the mix can be a challenge. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Exercise and Psychology estimates 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program will drop out within six months. However, many Western students and Wade King Student Recreation Center fitness trainers know techniques you can use to stay fit with a packed college schedule.

Stacy Halbakken, a program support supervisor for the physical education program at Western, attributes boredom from not switching up a routine as a primary reason for dropping out early from a fitness program.

Stacy Halbakken, a program support supervisor for the physical education program at Western poses for a portrait. // Photo by Lexi Foldenauer

“Finding a movement of any kind, something that you enjoy doing, is the key to success in physical fitness,” Halbakken said.

Western’s physical education program is continuously striving to expand options for physical fitness classes for students so they can find classes that are fun and outside of the realm of activities they would normally do, Halbakken said.

Western offers several different services around campus designed to promote long-term health by providing professional assistance to students so they can attain their individual health and wellness goals. Health service and recreation center fees are assessed each quarter for students enrolled in six or more credits.

According to the Student Business Office, the fees for the 2017-18 academic year are set at $106 for health service and $101.20 for recreation. These combined payments make up the bulk of fees students pay every quarter. Both fees provide eligible students with unlimited access to the Student Health Center, which offers medical and mental health services, as well as access to the rec center’s facilities.

“Finding a movement of any kind, something that you enjoy doing, is the key to success in physical fitness.”

Stacy Halbakken, physical education program support supervisor

Western student Kayi Cheng makes fitness a priority in her own life because of the way it makes her feel. Instead of dwelling on feeling bad, Cheng said exercise helps her to do something about it.

“Working out just helps me to maintain a positive image of myself,” Cheng said.

She enjoys Turbo Kick and Zumba, among other fitness classes the rec center offers.

“It’s fun, and at the same time you’re working out,” Cheng said.

Rebecca Stebbing, Western student and former kinesiology major, started exercising regularly in high school when she took interest in ballet.

“It kind of consumed my life, but I really loved it,” Stebbing said.

Dancing required Stebbing to maintain a 15-hour rehearsal schedule each week, which kept her physically fit. After graduation, Stebbing was no longer dancing regularly, so she purchased a gym membership and started researching good fitness techniques. Stebbing regularly uses the rec center.

“I love going to Zumba classes and I’ve dragged all my friends into them with me, even if they thought they hated dancing,” Stebbing said. “The atmosphere is wonderful.”

Ron Arnold, fitness and instructional coordinator at the rec center, suggested getting involved in a group fitness program to combat the urge to drop out of an exercise regime.

“The dropout rates are drastically lower when you are exercising in groups. You will adhere and stick to it much longer,” Arnold said.

He said social engagement, intercommunication skills and improved ability to work in a group are some added benefits of group fitness activity. Arnold said that group exercise improves not only physical health, but mental health as well by developing a connection to others. This is achieved through a feeling of acceptance, and a sense of belonging within a group, he said.

Students have opportunities to explore different physically engaging activities on campus to find something that sparks their interest. Western offers activities to appeal to different interests through Associated Students clubs, sports clubs and intramurals, Arnold said.

“Everyone’s fitness activity levels are different, so they shouldn’t have that scare them from not going to the gym.”

Unikque Thibou, Rec Center Personal Trainer

For those that are new to physical fitness, or are struggling to maintain motivation, Arnold suggests to find a friend or counselor to confide in to help achieve their goals.

The rec center offers a program for new exercisers called the First Step program, where students can work with clinical personal trainers who are experienced in rehabilitation training. The program is catered toward rec center members who are interested in getting more movements in their lives, according to the Campus Recreation Services website. A sign-up sheet is offered on the rec center’s website, and trainers will work around students’ schedules to find time to meet. The initial 60-minute consultation with a personal trainer is free, and the rates begin at $25 for an hour-long session.

Unikque Thibou, a kinesiology major specializing in pre-physical therapy who works in the rec center as a personal trainer, said he has seen only positive results when students he works with commit themselves to a regular fitness routine. Thibou has found that engaging student clients in activities in the gym that relate to recreational activities they already enjoy — like skiing in the wintertime — can enhance their sporting activities outside of the gym.

Personal trainer Unikque Thibou at the rec center. // Photo by Kevin Lake

“I have seen my clients improve and actually enjoy the gym and feel more comfortable,” Thibou said.

Thibou said a lot of clients he works with initially feel intimidated by the gym due to a lack of knowledge about how to properly use the equipment and because they compare themselves to other people’s abilities. He makes a point to explain to clients that not everyone’s fitness is going to be the same.

“Everyone’s fitness activity levels are different, so they shouldn’t have that scare them from not going to the gym,” Thibou said.

Thibou said that through the kinesiology program and influence from his peers, he has seen his own physical fitness level change dramatically since coming to Western.

“I’m now realizing why I’m doing certain workouts instead of going in blind and doing something because everyone else is doing it,” Thibou said. “My motivation has remained the same when it comes to working out, however the reason and the backing of why I do it has changed for the better.”


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