Get Fit, Get Moving, Have Fun
Step in to one of Bethany Welch’s classes and you will be greeted by a room of sweaty, hardworking students as they keep up with Welch, a student fitness instructor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Recreation Center. Welch, who has been teaching at the Rec Center since 2013, has attracted a steady following in the seven group fitness classes she teaches. To help keep her students motivated and keep them coming back, each week she pairs different music with new routines. A senior public health and education major, Welch has taught spinning, boot camp, and TRX boot camp—three of the 35 different group fitness classes offered.
Since it opened in 2009, the Rec Center, which is free for undergraduate students, has become one of the most popular spots on campus for students. In six years, the number of visits has nearly quadrupled, from 203,357 in 2009 to 820,062 in 2016. The building is centrally located just down the hill from the center of campus, across the street from the Mullins Center.
Fitness classes range from kickboxing to yoga to Insanity to Zumba. “Finding an instructor that is a great fit for the student is important,” says Welch. “With the variety of classes, time offerings, and instructors, there is something for every UMass student.”
Fitness classes are only one of many reasons to visit the Rec Center. For many students, transitioning to college means leaving organized sports behind and struggling to incorporate physical activity into their college routines. The Rec Center has many ways to help students avoid slipping into a sedentary lifestyle. Students can enjoy intramural sports like soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, and Ultimate Frisbee, and the center is the practice site for clubs like wrestling and Brazilian jujitsu. The facility also includes basketball courts, two floors of free weights, cardio machines, and a track. Nutrition advising and personal training are also available. For swimmers, students can use pools at Boyden Gym and Totman.
“The Rec Center is one of the nicest facilities I have ever been to,” says Welch, who has taught classes at other gyms. “We have beautiful equipment, and it is extremely well kept.”
The Rec Center is not just a gym, nor is it just for workouts. Its resources are dedicated to students’ mental and physical health, and there is even a Meditation Corner in its Wellness Center.
Rec Center Director John Blihar notes how “studies have shown that students who exercise regularly perform better academically.” For Welch, her students seem to reflect these findings. They have developed and maintained the time-management skills necessary to stay on track with academics and well-being. “Overall, my class keeps everyone on a schedule and consistent from week to week,” she says. “This is crucial when more stressful times of the year approach, like midterms and finals.”