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RecSports offers free, trial classes

Tess Civantos | Thursday, August 26, 2010

RecSports had a problem. Four years ago, students were dropping out of fitness classes because the classes weren’t what they expected or wanted.

That changed when the department began offering a week of free fitness classes at the start of every semester.

Shellie Dodd-Bell, RecSports fitness and instruction program coordinator, said when she first arrived in 2007, RecSports was giving students a lot of refunds for fitness classes.

“So we began offering sample classes, which gives students an opportunity to feel things out before they commit,” she said.

The sample class program has been very successful, with some 1,200 students taking part in over 50 free fitness classes offered in one week, Dodd-Bell said.

Students from freshmen to seniors make use of the free classes, and their fitness levels are as varied as their ages.

Linda Hardy, an 11-year veteran of RecSports yoga instruction, taught a sample class  Wednesday to a mixture of student abilities.

“One girl came up to me before class to ask about becoming a yoga instructor here at Notre Dame,” Hardy said. “A handful of students had never done yoga before.”

The sample class did not get through every yoga pose she had planned, but Hardy is glad that she was able to offer her class for a trial run.

“The free sample probably promotes the class more than paying for it right up front,” Hardy said. “It helps the students adjust to a schedule and lets them pick and choose the best class and instructor for them.”

The students in Hardy’s class also enjoyed sampling how the class fits into their schedules and exercise plans.

“I’m glad I get to figure out if I like the class before making a commitment,” Elizabeth Benson, an off-campus senior, said. “It also helps to try out different instructors.”

Freshman Jessica Schaefer was glad she could add yoga class to her schedule during her first week of college.

“It’s a good chance to relax in the crazy start to the school year,” Schaefer said. “Now that I’ve been to the class, I can see that it would be worth it to pay the fee, to actually sign up.”

Hardy’s sample yoga class had 14 students during the busy noon hour, a number that impressed some of the students.

“I’m really impressed by how many people are involved in the fitness classes and other physical fitness stuff on campus,” Schaefer said,

Although RecSports advertises for its sample fitness classes, many of the attendees hear about the opportunity by word-of-mouth.

“My sister had taken yoga before and I decided to take the class with her,” Benson said.

Meanwhile, Dodd-Bell offered some advice to students interested in attending a sample RecSports class, especially the popular Step, Sculpt and Pilates classes which have limited equipment.

“Come early,” Dodd-Bell said. “The classes are first come, first served.”

Above all, Dodd-Bell said, students should use the sample class week to find a fitness class that is “just right for them.”