The Cal Poly Recreation Center serves the needs of many and flows with an abundance of resources. Its tasteful selection of classes allows students to take part in fun workouts in a group environment.
According to System Program Coordinator Eric Alex- ander, it is difficult to determine which classes attract the most students because the time that the class is held plays a huge role in its demand. Nonetheless, almost all classes tend to fill up. The capacity for a typical gym class is approximately 38 participants.
“It’s a blessing and a curse to have three studios because you want a pretty full class, but you want there to be room for everyone, too,” Alexander said. “Last year, there were only five Pilates Express classes and now there are seven every week. Breakaway used to have 17 classes and now there are 19 per week.”
Classes are in such high demand that many of them require reserving spots ahead of time.
“Before, people were getting here 30 or 40 minutes early,” Alexander said. “We still have a lot of that, but we made it so there’s quite a few classes where you can make sure that you can get in.”
In addition to “drop-in” classes, there are also a num- ber of classes that involve a quarterly fee so the same students can attend the class regularly.
“The specialized or instructional classes are more technique- or skill-based and involve group progres- sion throughout the quarter,” Alexander said.
While students may attend the same few classes, there are a wide range of classes offered by the Recreation Center.
This class, requiring a quarterly $25 fee, teaches the ancient art of a traditional Arabic dance. Arab belly dancing is also known as Raqs Sharqi.
Belly dancing focuses a lot on the isolation of body parts and includes a variety of different combinations.
“I love sharing the culture and dance,” belly dancing instructor Sandra Sarrouf said. “I’m Egyptian and Lebanese. It’s also a great way to share Middle East- ern culture in a positive way. It’s particularly great for women. Belly dancing is rooted in a woman’s body and the way a woman moves.”
Sarrouf explained that the class involves a lot of mus- cle memory as well as mind-body connections.
“I see improvements in muscle memory over the quarter,” Sarrouf said. “Students can’t do a shoulder shimmy at the beginning of the class and by the end, they can.”
This self-defense class is reality-based. Its main focus is on using practical and realistic fighting techniques. The class costs $40 per quarter.
“Krav Maga is a self-defense that was created in Israel,” Krav Maga instructor Nathan Zimmerman said. “The goal was to come up with something to
get people combat ready in a short amount of time. Because they were trying to do that, they came up with a system in which all the techniques are based on responses to different types of attacks.”
The goal of the class, according to Zimmerman, is to get the students to develop a comfort for being able to address the “core,” or most common attacks.
Zimmerman emphasized that he has seen huge improve- ments amongst his students, primarily the female ones.
“I think that something like martial arts is the oppo- site of what women view as appropriate behavior in our culture,” Zimmerman said. “They’re taught to be submissive. It’s very empowering.”
Total Resistance Exercise (TRX)
The TRX suspension trainer is a circuit-training system. It includes a multitude of different exercises and is a complete body workout. The class costs $40 per quarter.
“The TRX bands are adjustable in length. Using the band increases the intensity of any kind of exercise,” TRX Instructor Laura Greene said. “For instance, doing push-ups on the TRX band or having your feet up and extended makes you work your core and arms more. It makes your muscles work harder, which will make you stronger in a shorter amount of time.”
Greene keeps her students pumped throughout the class by using upbeat music as well as having students work in AMRAPs and circuits.
“I think the intervals that we do for short periods of time remind people of what they’re doing and how it’s good for them and their body,” Greene said.
Alexander and the rest of the Recreation Center staff continually work to accommodate quality and reward- ing classes for students.
“We do a survey every quarter for all the classes, but they all average pretty equally. We’re really close to figuring out the optimal amount of classes and times that work for participants,” Alexander said.
Group Exercise Classes
Strength and Tone
This barbell-based class strengthens and tones all parts of the body. It includes utilizing exercises such as squats, presses, lifts and curls.
“What’s important in this class are three things: the music, the instructor and the great choreography. The music is important and so is the energy of the instruc- tor. It’s the students’ job to interpret the music,” Body Pump instructor Doriana Pirolo said. “Every song and track is a different feel and different energy. The choreography is also planned ahead of time.”
According to Pirolo, Body Pump is the most popular group fitness workout in the world.
“It’s an explosive workout,” Pirolo said. “My goal when I teach it is that for 55 minutes, everyone is sucked into it and they don’t think about anything else, class or work. We are all together. It’s one bar- bell, one tribe. It’s the Body Pump tribe.
Pirolo also said she can recognize students gaining mus- cle strength and confidence throughout the quarter.
“After two months, they walk in there and pick up the barbell with extreme confidence,” Pirolo said. “’Kia kaha’. It means ‘stay strong’ and is used by people in New Zealand. I use this word all the time in my class.”
This class involves cardiovascular, muscular and core training while in the water.
“You don’t necessarily need to know how to swim. It’s for everybody,” Aqua Fit instructor Cindy Burn- side said. “We could do running in the water or different types of strokes.”
In addition to the class being accessible to beginners, it is also recommended for those whose bodies cannot handle the impact of a typical high-intensity workout.
“For people that have issues like Achilles, it’s non-impact,” Burnside said. “You’re not pounding on the floor like you would if you were running on the track. Water has 12 times the resistance of air, so it’s still a difficult workout.”
Cardio Hip Hop
This workout involves cardio while doing basic hip- hop steps, such as following along with the instructor and choreographed routines.
“I love seeing how much fun people have with it and giving people a workout that’s not in a traditional set- ting,” Cardio Hip Hop instructor Roxy Kermani said. “Meeting new people and getting people out of their comfort zone is great, too.”
During class, Kermani reminds her students that they’re not performing for anyone and should not be afraid to look bad.
“Every time I walk into the class, the energy in the room is positive and upbeat. From the first-timers to the experienced dancers, everyone is eager to turn up the music and start the workout,” Cardio Hip Hop attendee Sierra Scolaro said. “Furthermore, I don’t feel like it’s a waste of time because I actually get a workout from the fast-paced dancing and intervals of condition- ing that Roxy has us do. It’s fun and busts your butt.”
Deep Relaxation & Meditation
This class places a strong emphasis on meditation, self-soothing and stillness. It is not a traditional workout or yoga class. Students are taught to sit comfortably, practicing breathing and other meditative techniques.
“My classes are unique. I am a yoga therapist. I guide participants in passive, where their bodies are propped with blankets and bolsters,” Deep Relaxation and Meditation instructor Brooke West said. “I guide them through yoga nidra, the yoga science of sleep. This moves normal brain waves to more dreamy waves. This helps memory, immunity, creativity and focus.”
West keeps her classroom dimly lit and covers every student with a blanket. They each find their own space and get comfortable. She then soothes them with meditative words. At the end of the class, stu- dents return to their seated meditation and West guides them through focusing on all of their senses.
“It brings your brain into theta and delta, which is where inspiration happens,” West said.
West is a trauma-informed yoga therapist. This type of therapy is based on the idea that everybody has trauma and anxiety in their lives.
“I’m a Cal Poly graduate, and I had a mental health crisis my second year here,” West said. “It was stress-related and I had to drop out of school for two quarters. It took me an extra year to graduate. If I had had a class like this, it may have prevented that.”
West occasionally receives feedback from her students about the class. Many of them have said they are now calmer and sleep better. West also said many students and staff members attend her class during busy school weeks.
“I tell them that the name of the game is comfort,” West said. “My classes are like active napping and everyone gets tucked in. It’s very refreshing and cozy.”
Human Being Training Yoga
This is a yoga-based class that focuses primarily on yourself and your purpose in the world.
“At a basic level, human-being training is an adven- ture to the heart using your body as a spaceship,” Human Being Training Yoga instructor Amanda Lambert said. We have a lot of loud music and there’s always relaxation at the end. I keep an alternate framework of how to live life with the goal of being yourself and being the person that you want to be.”
The class uses old-school body weight calisthenics as well as aspects of vinyasa yoga. Lambert also speaks the entire time throughout the class.
“They are learning about who they are as people,” Lambert said. “I believe that every human being comes into the world with a mission and they’re free to say yes or no to that mission at any point. What I hope people are getting out of this is clarity of who they are.”
Lambert’s most-valued method of inspiring students is circulating her own love and energy.
“The class is relaxing and physically challenging. After the class, I feel more open and soothed. It gets you the right amount of tired,” Human Being Training Yoga student Collin Moore said. “Amanda talks to us a lot in class about ideas and life in general and that’s inspiring. It’s nice to come out with a piece of knowledge after each class.”