By Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

   This January the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) adjusted its community group fitness classes to the classification system used by the University’s PHE-010 courses.

   The transition to the “Phase” system follows three years after its implementation in the PHE classes. Previous to phases, the mandatory PHE class was separated into specific forms of exercise, including Play Fit, Aquatics, Strength & Conditioning, and Cardiovascular Fitness.     

   This separation saw mixed success until Assistant Director Alison Thayer “had an epiphany during one of [her] personal training courses.” Thayer, the Director of Fitness and PHE Coordinator, found inspiration in the American Council of Exercise’s separation of fitness into four phases and adjusted these categories to better fit PHE.

   The result was a separation of PHE into three phases:

  • Phase 1: Designed for the entry-level exerciser, Phase 1 is intended for those with little to no fitness experience.
  • Phase 2: A middle-level fitness group. Participants in this group are familiar with some forms of exercise but still retain some unfamiliarity or need additional instruction.
  • Phase 3: This phase is intended for those who are familiar with most types of exercise. These are your high school athletes and passionate fitness enthusiasts.

   The phases also did away with specific categories of fitness interest. Instead of having to choose between Play Fit and Aquatics, for example, students would be exposed to all options of fitness in one form or another through their time in PHE. “I wanted the students to have a more well-rounded experience,” said Thayer. Group Fitness Coordinator Mike Colella added, “It gives students the opportunity to say where they are in their own fitness.”

   This change to phases has also impacted instructors at the FRC. The phases require that instructors have a more holistic understanding of fitness and are better trained and prepared for diverse exercise experiences. “Instructors need a larger toolbox and an open attitude,” said Thayer, “We found that [they] are communicating more and requesting for guest instructors more often.” Thayer has found that this change has been successful, emphasizing greater consistency in fitness familiarity inside of individual classes— allowing for a stronger sense of camaraderie through PHE.

   Starting in January all group fitness classes are being adjusted to the phases that PHE recently adopted. Thayer detailed, “We are trying to put similar PHE standards on the community members.” The group fitness schedule now labels its classes according to the PHE phases and includes descriptions on what the phases mean. Thayer emphasized that these labels are suggestions and that part of being a fitness instructor is being prepared to make modifications for members with different levels of fitness experience.

   In labeling classes according to these classifications, Colella was surprised. “[We had] the realization that we didn’t have enough entry-level classes.” Colella continued excitedly, “Now we have at least one [Phase One class] six out of seven days a week.”

   Thayer echoed this excitement, “Our goal is to get anybody who has ever wanted to attend a group fitness class the opportunity to do so.” Thayer also hopes that these changes will make the group fitness classes more accessible for UMF students.

   Thayer also emphasized how this change has allowed for her PHE instructors to transition into becoming group fitness instructors. Instructors are better prepared and gain experience across multiple fields of exercise. Thayer concluded, “We are part of an educational institution, and our mission is education— for our student instructors and students alike.”

   The group fitness schedule is available on the Fitness and Recreation Center’s page on the University website and is available in paper in the lobby of the FRC.