Spin Coast to Coast is a recent fitness initiative introduced by Physical Education, Recreation and Athletics (PERA) that is hoping to reconceptualize Wellesley’s understanding of self-care and health. The initiative began in October and will come to a close after its eighth week when reading period begins next Wednesday. True to its name, Spin Coast to Coast participants logged their miles on stationary bikes in the Keohane Sports Center (KSC) after spin classes or individual workouts to reach fixed mile benchmarks across the country in Kansas City, Albuquerque and Los Angeles.
Like many events on Wellesley’s campus, students pioneered this fall’s fitness initiatives at the KSC. Last spring, Estefania Lamas ’16, a fitness instructor and the student coordinator of PERA, and Rebecca Kimball, the director of sports performance and fitness, sat down to discuss what was missing from the recreation department and decided that they needed to focus on the demographic of students who don’t already use KSC resources.
“We thought about who was and wasn’t getting involved in the fitness classes on campus and really about what it meant to be fit and healthy,” Lamas said. “A lot of the people coming to classes were already athletes. Spin classes are not typically a welcoming environment for beginners, so we looked to design something that would give PERA an altogether increased presence on campus.”
As the first initiative of its kind proposed by PERA, Spin Coast to Coast has been extremely successful in attracting novice spinners. Of the initiative’s roughly 90 participants, 36 had never taken a spin class before while 38 participants reported having taken only a few recreation classes prior to signing up. Beginners were able to jump right in due to the strategic setting of Spin Coast to Coast’s three benchmarks, which are attainable for all levels of experience. Kansas City, the first of the three, requires 100 miles logged, or the equivalent of one 30 minute spin session each week. Fifteen percent of participants have already achieved this goal and many more are on track to reach the Great Plains city by the program’s finale next week.
While Spin Coast to Coast encouraged newcomers to feel welcome in the KSC’s spin room, it also provided a change of pace for athletes and fitness class regulars. Leigh Hunt ’17, a fitness instructor and spinning enthusiast, has already reached the Los Angeles checkpoint, logging over 215 miles.
“Spinning is part of my weekly workout routine; I try to spin three times per week. However, the Coast to Coast challenge has definitely added an incentive to ride a certain distance during these workouts and to push myself to reach my weekly goal,” Hunt said.
Apart from its goal to reach more students across campus, a main focus of PERA was to promote Wellesley’s broader self-care campaign on an individual level. In the November Incentive, which complemented Spin Coast to Coast, the recreation department awarded students with prizes after attending five, seven or 10 fitness classes of any kind throughout the month. With spin classes offered at the KSC each weekday, in addition to Barre, boot camp, yoga, Zumba and several core strengthening classes offered seven days per week, Spin Coast to Coast and the November Incentive program encouraged students to carve out time in their busy schedules for stress-relief and reflection, which exercise promotes.
“I think that short term incentives like the November Incentive are effective for students at Wellesley because it applies a little bit more pressure,” said Gloria Samen ’18, a KSC fitness instructor. “Programs to get people working out more at Wellesley are important because fitness is an important aspect of mental health that people often forget. When you treat your body with respect, your mind thanks you.”
While Spin Coast to Coast is coming to a close, it’s important to consider the initiative’s message of self-care as New Year’s resolutions and the completion of the KSC renovations take shape next month.
Photo by Soojin Jeong ‘17, Photo Editor