Want to workout but don’t want to pay for expensive classes or trek to the gym?
Numerous different weekly fitness classes are available for Tufts undergraduate students in the Hill Hall Aerobics Room, as part of the TUSC Fitness Program. Not only are these classes taught by students for students, but they are free with a Tufts student ID.
The TUSC Fitness Program began during the fall 2021 semester. Previously, student-led fitness classes were offered through Tufts Student Resources.
In an email to the Daily, John Wescott, the associate director for campus life and staff advisor to TUSC, explained why the TSR fitness classes came to an end.
“Tufts Student Resources was a student-run business that operated in varying capacities for many years prior to 2019,” Wescott wrote. “The student fitness instructors from TSR Fitness (a pay as you go program) continued to work to offer ad-hoc classes as they were able to during the 2019-20 academic year, and then in 2020-21 were limited due to COVID restrictions.”
Wescott wrote that the TUSC Fitness Program began after two former TSR fitness instructors approached TUSC about reviving the program.
Meher Khatwani, a senior and co-coordinator of the TUSC Fitness Program, was one of those students.
“I reached out to TUSC the summer before my senior year … because more than anything I wanted to teach a fitness class,” Khatwani said. “And [TUSC] said, ‘We don't have anything in place. Would you like to be part of establishing something?’”
Andres Antonio, a junior and TUSC dance instructor, also helped TUSC develop the current fitness program.
“Last semester, I was actually one of the TUSC fitness coordinators,” Antonio said. “I worked on building this program, hiring instructors, training instructors [and] … coordinating classes.”
Antonio then explained the application, hiring and training process for instructors. There’s a written application, where applicants are asked if they have previous experience with teaching classes and whether they are CPR-certified or have any gym certifications. If they’re a good fit, students are interviewed, trained and shown how the program operates, Antonio said.
This semester, Antonio teaches a dance cardio class, which introduces basic dance techniques in a cardio format to help students have fun and de-stress.
“[Dance Cardio] is a really fun time to kind of come together and dance in a very positive setting,” Antonio said.
Pearl Young, a senior and TUSC dance instructor, teaches Dance Fit.
“One of my favorite things about being in a dance class is it’s a very collective mindset,” Young said. “And, it’s not a competitive mindset, which I feel is very common in the dance world.”
Young tries to prioritize the comfort of Dance Fit attendees.
“I've basically chosen a couple styles of dance that I think people are familiar enough with just from pop culture that they … would feel comfortable enough to participate in,” Young said. “I never want you to be pushing yourself past a comfortable limit of what your body can do.”
In addition to dance classes, the TUSC Fitness Program offers high-intensity interval training and kickboxing classes.
Bronwyn Fulton, a senior and TUSC fitness instructor, said that her kickboxing classes focus on cardio while incorporating strength to give participants a full-body workout. She added that attendance varies by day of the week, with anywhere from three to 10 students coming to her classes.
“Kickboxing is something that I enjoy so much. So honestly the fact that I get to be able to do it every week and have people that come and do it with me is so awesome,” Fulton said. “I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to be a part of that community and to workout with people.”
Catie Urquhart, a senior and friend of Fulton, consistently attends Fulton’s kickboxing classes, noting that the class is her favorite part of the week.
“Taking the space out of my day to go … and to have that to look forward to, improves my mental space,” Urquhart said. “My flexibility has improved because kickboxing isn't something I had ever done before or would have access to if it weren't for the class.”
Senior and TUSC Fitness co-coordinator Rowan Bishop teaches Get LIIT with HIIT, which she describes as “a series of circuit training [and] high-intensity interval training exercises.”
“We’re going to push each other [and] we’re gonna have fun during [the class],” Bishop said.
Bishop described her role as a TUSC fitness co-coordinator.
“It was our job to recruit, ... interview and hire all the fitness instructors that are currently in the program,” Bishop said. “We do check-ins … we make sure the equipment [in Hill Hall] is up to date and we answer any questions or concerns the fitness instructors may have.”
The TUSC fitness co-coordinators also plan events like Night Lift.
“In February, we had a night lift … in the gym. … We invited people to come in and learn how to lift and learn how to use the machines,” Bishop said. “It was open for everybody, but we really focused on female and gender non-conforming, nonbinary people so that they can feel like they have actual space in a gym, because … in traditional settings, it [can be] really hard for people to feel comfortable in the gym.”
Khatwani said that she hopes that the TUSC Fitness Program continues after she graduates.
“I hope that Rowan and I laid down the necessary groundwork,” Khatwani said. “Also… [Andres’] work was also important in establishing this program, because he was there in the beginning as well. So hopefully the three of us did what we [could] to ensure that this continues after we leave.”