Fitness for students, by students offered at Rec Complex

Nadeen, who has been teaching courses at the rec for over 15 years, gets everyone warmed up for cycle fusion. The rec offers over 25 different group fitness classes, all of which are free with your student ID. (Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Alex Todd

With sweat dripping, muscles burning and soreness already setting in, students walk out of one of the 64 group fitness classes offered by the Kansas State Recreational Services at the Peters Recreation Complex.

Students exercise and attend the group fitness sessions for different reasons. For Mariah Stringfield, senior in life sciences and cardio hip-hop class attendee, it’s about movement.

“It’s a fun way to work out and dance, and I’m a dancing fool,” Stringfield said.

Mallory Shinliver, senior in agribusiness, cycles in the summer at a different recreation center, but said she decided to come to one recent cycling class.

“I haven’t been to the gym in about a month, so I need a little detox because I’ve been at the ‘Ville probably for two weeks straight,” Shinliver said.

Just as there are a variety of factors motivating students’ fitness goals, there are a variety of classes offered to help achieve them. The activities range from yoga to high intensity interval training.

Julie Gibbs, director of health promotion at Lafene Health Center, said an assortment of exercises is key.

“You never want your body to get used to one thing because you need to be well-rounded,” she said. “But you also want to look at what’s good for you, depending on your physical limitations or your physical ability overall.”

Group fitness classes can also yield numerous health benefits, Gibbs said. In the short term, exercise causes the release of endorphins and stress reduction. Long term, exercise lowers blood pressure, improves blood sugar, promotes good cholesterol and lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

“And it just makes you feel good about yourself,” Gibbs said.

Helping students meet their fitness goals is a priority for instructors, too.

“It’s always nice to look out there and see people smiling or sweating in misery from time to time — you know it’s working,” said Mitzie Rojas, former student instructor and current recreation specialist at the Rec Complex.

With academics, work and other activities demanding students’ time, Jayna Ukrazhenko, fitness and wellness coordinator at the Rec Complex, said consistency and realistic expectations are key to success.

“Look at your schedule and see what fits best for you,” Ukrazhenko said. “There’s got to be at least one or two that are a staple, that you can write in your planner or put in your phone on your calendar.”

Ukrazhenko said the cardio hip-hop class, held Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., is the most-attended group fitness session.

“We have 100 plus people in that class,” she said. “It’s basically been a staple on the schedule since that instructor started.”

The instructor, Alex Wodtke, senior in kinesiology, began teaching her freshman year. She also instructs the Extreme Core class on Wednesdays.

“After quitting gymnastics, I wanted to find a passion in something fitness-related,” she said. “I like that it’s a safe place to let loose and build community while burning calories.”

The schedule of group fitness classes can be accessed online at