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Fitness classes free for weekFitness classes free for weekFitness classes free for week

| Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pedaling up hills and down, over straightaways and through to the finish, 20 students completed the Tour de Rock Wednesday.

Though snow covered the ground outside and temperatures stayed in the single digits, in the basement of Rockne Memorial Gym, there was more spandex than sweaters.

Angela Gallagher, a pediatric speech therapist at St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend by day, teaches three cycling classes at Notre Dame, including the “Cycle N Sculpt” class offered Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s the most effective workout that I’ve ever done,” Gallagher said after the hour-long class had finished. She taught the cycling class last semester for the first time, but has taught other fitness classes at Notre Dame for the past eight years.

The class, one of over 50 fitness classes offered by RecSports, took the group of 20, mostly women, up three “mountains” in a former racquetball court that has been renovated with fans, a sound system and pictures of bikers and nature scenes on the walls.

RecSports has invited Notre Dame students to sample all the courses it offers for free through Sunday. Students can sign up to take a class for the semester starting today at 7:30 a.m.

Jennie Phillips, the assistant director for Fitness and Fitness Facilities in the Office of Recreational Sports, said the University has offered students fitness classes since the mid-1980s.

Between May 2007 and April 2008, about 3,000 people participated in fitness classes, she said.

People come to the classes for the quality facilities, the enthusiastic instructors and a positive environment.

“People will come if they are seeing that the classes are effective and they are having fun,” Phillips said.

The weeklong free trial period gives people a chance to experiment with classes like “Zumba,” “Triple Threat,” “Yoga” and “Cardio Funk,” Phillips said.

This semester RecSports added an “Aqua Drills” class, which consists of exercises in the deep end of the pool at Rockne Memorial.

The popularity of fitness classes tends to increase in the spring, Phillips said.

“Usually second semester we see a great number of participants because people have New Year’s resolutions, they are getting ready for spring break and you can’t really go outside. The big interhall sports like football are over,” she said.

The most popular classes last year were toning classes, like “Body Sculpt” or “Flex N Tone.” Yoga was also a popular class, Phillips said.

Classes like “Cycle N Sculpt” help students manage stress and keep up their overall health, including managing weight, Gallagher said. Most students at Notre Dame spend long hours sitting and studying, she said, and taking time off to work out helps the brain function better.

The regular fitness schedule begins Monday and most classes will end April 29. For the past five years, RecSports has offered a variety of free fitness classes during study days and final exam week at the end of the semester, Phillips said.

Online registration begins today at 7:30 a.m. through recsports.nd.edu. Visa and Mastercard are accepted, and cash and checks are accepted at the Rolfs Sports Recreational Center front desk.