WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Round 2 of Small Group Fitness Starts This Month with Campus Rec!

This post was written by Emily Wheeler and is published as a part of our blog exchange with Tar-Heel Tone Up.


As most students know by now, Campus Recreation offers over 85 group fitness classes at no cost to members every single week! Every semester, there are also two sessions of small group training programs that are offered at a low cost to members to allow them to get more personalized and targeted fitness training during various 6-week programs!

The second round of small group fitness classes are starting this month right after fall break, and registration is open this week! Here are more details about the small group fitness classes happening this semester, as well as quotes from current Boot Camp participants about their thoughts on the class!


The TRX suspension bands allow you to improve your muscular and core strength with varying levels of bodyweight exercises. The great thing about the TRX bands is that since you’re using your own bodyweight, you can change your level of resistance easily to suit your abilities! No experience is required – the certified fitness instructors will teach you everything you need to know about using the TRX bands! 

Cost: $55 (10 sessions)

Location: RHRC Court 1

Days/Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:15 – 7:15 am

Dates: 10/22/15 – 11/24/15

Registration: October 5 – October 20

Capacity: 8 (Space is limited)


Boot camp features high intensity hour-long workouts that include sets of drills followed by short periods of rest to give you a fantastic cardiovascular workout! There are always modifications and varying levels of difficulty for each exercise so you can start where you are and work your way up to increasing your health, fitness, and endurance by the end of the class! I have personally participated in this class in the past and I always left feeling like I’d gotten such a great workout and I enjoyed being able to do drills that I had never thought of doing on my own before!

Cost: $30 (10 sessions)

Location: RHRC Court 1 & Outdoors

Days/Time: Mondays & Wednesdays @ 5:15 – 6:15 pm

Dates: 10/21/15 – 11/23/15

Registration: October 5 – October 20

 “Boot camp with Olivia is the highlight of my week. I love that [Campus Recreation] offers these small group classes because it truly allows me to get the most out of my workout as Olivia plans an intensive and comprehensive routine each class. I enjoy lifting weights, running around, and working on strengthening my core to the sounds of Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, and Olivia’s encouragement. I highly recommend this to anyone looking to get started on exercising!”

“I have been taking small group fitness classes since freshmen year and now, as a senior, I’m addicted! I love the one-on-one attention I receive from the amazing instructors that always push me to my limits. Not only is it a great workout, but you also get to make some really great friends while getting fit. Because of the people I’ve met through small group fitness training classes, I made connections in my field of interest and ultimately got a job! This is an amazing opportunity through UNC to get a great workout for a cheap price. I’m really going to miss it when I graduate!”      -Stephanie Katz

“I liked the class. There was a great variety of workout and my instructor always challenged us, while making us feel comfortable. She also took our suggestions for potential workouts.”

“I love this class because the instructor, Olivia Desend, is so supportive and encouraging. She pushes us all each class. There is a little something for everyone, whether you want cardio, strength, endurance, or flexibility training. I highly recommend this class. It really helps build confidence and social circles, too!”       -Hannah Newmann, First year student

“I really enjoyed Boot Camp! It was a great full body workout what was both intense and enjoyable. Olivia was/is awesome! She was extremely knowledgeable, inclusive, and pushes us to do our best. I would highly recommend Boot Camp for people of all fitness levels!”      -Rebecca Messenger

As you can see, these small group training programs are an excellent opportunity offered by Campus Recreation. When I was in the Boot Camp class, there were full-time university employees taking the class as well and we always had a lot of fun encouraging each other. The classes really are for people of all ages and fitness levels who are looking to have fun, meet new people, and improve their health by taking care of their bodies through exercise.

To learn more about small group training programs, click here or visit the Campus Recreation main office, located in SRC 101, to register for the classes and get your questions answered. (Convenience note: the main office accepts cash and OneCard expense money only!) Registration is open now and space is limited in both classes, so take advantage of this super fun opportunity and I guarantee you that you’ll be happy that you did!

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Don’t Let Shorter Days Negatively Affect Your Health

This blog post is written by Emily Wheeler and is published as a part of our blog exchange with Tar Heel Tone-Up.

As you’ve surely already noticed, the days are becoming shorter as sunset creeps earlier and earlier into the day and darkness falls by 8pm. Sadly, gone are the long, bright days of summer and we are slowly entering the cooler days of North Carolina autumn where we’ll all be shivering in the mornings and evenings but sweating as we walk between classes mid-day.

It’s important to recognize that even something as natural as earlier sunsets can have dramatic effects on our physical and mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression related to the changing of seasons, but seasonal changes can affect many people’s daily moods and activities whether or not these changes are drastic enough to warrant a diagnosis.

Sunset at Dyer Park Over Grassy Field Previously a Landfill

Image by Kim Seng of Flickr Creative Commons

A significant change that can come from shorter lengths of daylight is sleep deprivation for many students. We often don’t have the choice to simply adjust our schedules and go to sleep earlier when it gets dark earlier, which leads us to spend more time reliant on artificial light in the evenings. Bright artificial light inside, when it’s already dark outside, suppresses hormone production in the brain that helps to signal our natural cycle of sleepiness and wakefulness. This may contribute to a feeling of wakefulness at night that will keep you up too late and leave you tired in the morning (1).

Sleep deprivation can increase the stress responses of your body and cause harmful inflammation, especially in individuals with arthritis, and can affect your ability to think clearly and be successful on school assignments and tests (1).

While it’s not likely that any of us will be able to stay away from technology screens or artificial light entirely after dark, we can counter the effects on our sleep cycles by creating a nighttime pattern you can repeat daily as you’re getting ready to go to sleep, such as turning off all overhead lights and relying on lamplight for 20 minutes before bed, or making a habit of reading a paper book for a few minutes before bed to calm your brain and prevent you from reading on brightly lit screens.

Changes in daylight between now and December can also affect your physical health in other ways, especially because people tend to change their patterns of eating and exercise as the seasons change. As the days shorten and both sunrise and sunset are happening around 7 o’clock, many people leave for work or class when it’s still dark outside and return home in the evenings around sunset. This can make it hard to be motivated to exercise after dark, and overeating can become a problem when we spend more time at home per day with easy access to food and snacks. Many people also crave richer “comfort foods” in the fall and winter and tend to eat greater quantities of food with less nutritional value around the time of the various winter holidays.

A combination of all of these factors, colder weather, and dark evenings can make even the healthiest and most active individuals more prone to increased couch potato time.

These issues can be countered by small but conscious daily choices and changes, including:

  • Using online exercise videos as guidance and motivation to work out at home instead of convincing yourself to bundle up face the cold again to go out to the gym.
  • Committing to exercise at a specific time every day, preferably in the morning before you leave the house or soon after you get home or get off of work to avoid becoming too comfortable and tired to motivate yourself to work out after you’ve already sat down and eaten dinner.
  • Reducing or eliminating the presence of super salty or sugary snacks sitting around the house, just waiting to be munched on as soon as you get the craving.
  • Allotting time to plan meals and snacks and make a grocery list every week before you go to the store to prevent you from buying unhealthy foods and snacks on a whim and to encourage more conscious food choices and balanced meals throughout the week.

Daylight savings happens on November 2 this year, but we can continue to expect earlier sunsets between now and the winter solstice on December 21. By being aware of how seasonal changes can affect our personal mental and physical well being, we can be prepared with purposeful lifestyle changes and habits to ensure that we stay happy, healthy, and successful in school with every passing day!

Works Cited:

  1. Kelly, Martta. Shorter days can affect physical health as well as mental health. Oct 30, 2014.

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: This is Why I Came to Love Yoga

This post was written by Emily Wheeler and is published as part of our blog exchange with Tar Heel Tone Up.

I fell in love with yoga two years ago when I attended my first yoga class on campus as a group fitness class through campus rec. The instructor had an obvious love for yoga, but also for teaching in general, which was fitting because she was an education major. I admit that I always imagined yoga classes as a place for meditative “hippie-types” who were disgusted by meat and loved to say “owmmm.” What I discovered instead is that yoga is powerful in a way that you never understand until one day, you allow yourself to let go of all of your notions, assumptions, and judgments about yoga and just let yourself sink into it with the real intention of discovering what it has to offer you. (I also learned that sometimes you can do yoga to hip hop/pop music if you’re just not in a very mellow mood that day.)

In yoga, I find that the amount of focus that it requires for me to think about my breath and the many sensations happening in my muscles allows me to let go of thinking about anything else. No matter how stressed I am or how caught up in the expectations of life I become, I can come back to remembering what really matters within an hour with yoga. Although it might sound strange, for me and many others, yoga is just as much a mental or spiritual experience as it is physical—it offers me the opportunity to step out of the world by reverting into my own body and my own mind. Yoga reminds me to be the best that I can be, to appreciate life and my body, and to do the things that make me happy.

Many thanks for the images from Franklin Street Yoga Center!

I love that in a matter of months, doing yoga regularly drastically improved my strength and balance in a way that is still kind to my body. So often, other forms of exercise feel like they’re beating my body up and leave me with sore knees and aching muscles for days. Yoga, while it still leaves my upper body sore sometimes, feels much more gentle to my joints and muscles.

Yoga is also a type of exercise that I can do at any time of day: it’s a great way to start off my morning or I can do it late at night without worrying about needing time to calm down before I can sleep. I like to attend classes or use online videos because I like the guidance of an instructor talking in the background the entire time. At the very end of every yoga class I’ve ever attended, you end in savasana, also called “corpse pose” or “final resting pose.” In this position, you are laying flat on your back as you try to progressively relax every muscle in your body to find total release. It is always amazing to me how much tension I hold in all of my muscles without realizing it until I actively focus on relaxing them. I even notice a lot of tension in my face as I try to relax (which could explain why sometimes people think I’m angry when I’m really just focused on something.)


I love yoga because after an hour of intentionally focusing on my breathing and movement, I can melt into the floor in savasana and it feels like pure peace. No matter how frustrating my day has been or how exhausted I am, I can let all of that tension go for a few minutes and finally feel like me again. It’s a feeling of such relaxation and relief that I can’t even put it into words, but it makes the entire class or video worth it, even after I was tempted to quit multiple times within a single hour. If you’ve never tried yoga, all of these descriptions may sound nearly comical, but if you try it with an open mind one day, you may discover, as I did, that yoga isn’t what you expected at all.