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An Aerobic Dance Exercise class (Alesia Aumock | Courtesy)

If a Hillsdale student was asked to describe his life in one word, the two most common answers would probably be “stressful” and “busy.” When it comes to helping stu­dents cope with the hours of homework and paper dead­lines, people like Alesia Aumock, Leah Novak, and Anne Theobald are the real unsung heroes of Hillsdale College.

From Sep­tember 13 until December 13, the Hillsdale College Fitness Program is offering their annual Fall into Fitness program, free for all stu­dents, faculty, and staff. Dona­tions are accepted and fund the fitness program so classes can stay open and con­tin­ually be improved.

Because the wide variety of workout classes designed to exercise and enhance both body and mind, these classes are the perfect study break for a Hillsdale student.

Senior Elyse Hutcheson is in her third year of taking fitness classes at Hillsdale. Instead of using her busy schedule as an excuse to avoid exercise, she uses it as an oppor­tunity. Hutcheson said that she finds it easier to stay moti­vated to work out when she’s in a class.

“Working out on my own is one of the first things I cut out of my schedule when things get hectic, so a class helps me stay healthy and focused on taking care of myself in the midst of all the other things I do,” she said. “It’s also only a couple hours a week, so it doesn’t really interfere with the other com­mit­ments I have.”

With a class offered every day of the week, there’s always some time to stop by the Roche Sports Complex for a little exercise, no matter how busy your schedule may seem.

Mat Science with Alesia

On Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:15 until 12:45 p.m., Aumock leads a class called Mat Science. This class is a com­bi­nation Pilates, yoga, balance training, and tai chi.

This class focuses on the core, empha­sizing strength, flex­i­bility, mus­cular endurance, coor­di­nation, balance, and good posture, with a much lower chance of injury than with other forms of exercise. Aumock has taught per­sonal training and group fitness for 33 years to a wide variety of people.

With years of expe­rience, you know how each fitness level and age adapts to exercise,” Aumock said. “I’ve worked with people from age 13 to age 84 and no matter the age, it’s important for me to not just stand in the front of the room and have them mirror what I do, but actually walk around, talk to them, and help them with the exercise.”

She encourages people of all ages and fitness back­grounds to come out and try her classes.

“I really enjoy teaching weight training to beginners who are feeling like it’s intim­i­dating to walk into the weight room,” Aumock said. “I like teaching that person because it’s helping them. It helps build their self-esteem. I like making people feel good about them­selves, and they do after they exercise; that’s the chem­icals in the brain working.”

Fitness Fusion with Alesia

Aumock also teaches what she said she believes to be the most popular and all-time favorite class, Fitness Fusion. This class is held on Mondays from 5:15 until 6:15 p.m.

“It used to be called Kickbox Circuit, but that was too old-fash­ioned, so I renamed it to Fitness Fusion,” Aumock said. “That just shows you that it has hung in there forever.”

This cardio and strength circuit class includes a com­bi­nation of step training, kick­boxing, and dance, inter­spersed with the use of resis­tance cords, dumb­bells, and body bars. At the end of the class, the focus switches to core training and a little bit of tai chi. With many dif­ferent exer­cises included in each of these classes, stu­dents get a com­pre­hensive workout that hits many aspects of the Physical Wellness Wheel, which is a division of health into the cat­e­gories of social, intel­lectual, envi­ron­mental, spir­itual, physical, and emo­tional.

“You improve your social wellness because you are meeting with a group of people and learning with them,” Aumock said. “You improve your intel­lectual wellness because when you exercise, your brain’s telomeres build back up and your memory works better. For the physical aspect, you’re building up car­dio­vas­cular endurance, mus­cular endurance, mus­cular strength, and flex­i­bility depending on the variety of classes that you attend each day. Lastly, you help your body com­po­sition because when you exercise reg­u­larly, you tend to make better food choices.”

Full-body Strength Training with Anne

On Tuesdays from 5:15 – 6:15 a.m and Fridays from 6:30 – 7:15 a.m., Anne Theobald leads a full-body strength training class. The key to this class is what is called the “rep effect,” which means that the exercise relies more heavily on rep­e­tition than weight. This upbeat workout tones and shapes all major muscle groups through exer­cises like squats, presses, and curls with both weighted bars and free weights.

Yoga with Leah

On Wednesday nights from 5:45 – 6:45 p.m., Leah Novak leads a yoga class. Yoga is similar to Pilates in that it is a physical practice with dis­ci­plined move­ments focusing on core strength and flex­i­bility, but it also focuses on the con­nection between mind and body through breathing exer­cises and a final relax­ation pose at the end.

“The class is pri­marily a physical practice but I always create a space where stu­dents can come to do what they feel they need to do, even if it’s to relax,” Novak said.

This class can help stu­dents gen­erate physical and emo­tional healing as well as mind­fulness, and aims for a trans­for­mation in everyday living.

“I want anyone who comes to my yoga classes to be able to relax and leave the baggage of the day at the door, where they can choose to pick it up afterward if they’d like or not,” Novak said. “Throughout the day, we run around without a moment to pause or rest and that wears our bodies down, leading to injury and illness. If there’s any­thing I want people to realize, it’s that they’re worth the time and the self-investment.”

Interval Cycling with Anne

On Thursdays from 6:30 – 7:15 a.m., Theobald leads an indoor cycling class, where stu­dents can control the intensity of the hill climbs, flat rides, and sprints that the instructor guides them through in order to build strength and burn calories.

“It’s a great workout, and a lot of why I enjoy it so much is because having someone else leading the workout moti­vates me to work my hardest,” Hutcheson said. “I also like the way that a sta­tionary bike workout is very easy to tailor to the indi­vidual– you can adjust your resis­tance and how hard you push yourself in accor­dance with how much you can handle, so you can do a cycling class no matter how ‘in shape’ you are. Plus, it’s much better on your knees than running.”