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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.”