Group fitness courses at Wellesley College provide students with an excellent opportunity to stay healthy and active throughout the school year. A list and schedule of the diverse course offerings can be found on Wellesley College’s official website, and individuals of all fitness levels are encouraged to participate. Classes are free to members of the Wellesley community and are taught by student fitness instructors. Students who are interested in becoming fitness instructors must receive the certifications required for the class they wish to teach and fill out an online application form.
Gloria Samen ’18 is a spinning instructor at Wellesley. The junior from Potomac, Maryland got involved with spin during her final year of high school. “Spin taught me how to view nutrition and fitness in a different way and how much value investing an hour a day in yourself adds to your life,” she said. “Spin changed my life, and
I wanted to give that feeling back to people. I wanted to help them fall in love with something that could make them understand how strong and powerful their bodies could become.”
Samen fulfilled this wish by receiving her certification during the summer before her first year of college. Shortly after arriving on campus, she contacted Rebecca Kimball and asked to be put on the group fitness schedule. Samen has been utilizing her talents and teaching spin classes at Wellesley College ever since.
Given her passion for spin, it is no surprise that Samen does not take her role as a student fitness instructor lightly. Samen offers courses to Wellesley students every Monday and Thursday from five-thirty to six-
thirty. However, far more goes into the job than the two hours a week she spends giving instructions on the bike. It takes her approximately fifteen minutes to set up the equipment and get her students situated, and another fifteen minutes to clean off the bikes after class is over.
To assure that her students have the best experience possible, Samen spends a significant amount of time, as much as four hours each week, creating original playlists for each class. In addition to the several hours a week she devotes to her students, Samen pursues a double major in Economics and Africana Studies and is as an active leader in the college community. She serves as a Resident Assistant (RA) for Tower Court, helped found Smart Women’s Securities at Wellesley and is on the e-board for Tau Zeta Epsilon (TZE), the arts and music society on campus. She commented, “I think that teaching spin allows me to commit to all of those things because it helps me mentally. I love it, and so it’s a stress reliever instead of something that adds stress to my life.”
One of the questions Samen gets asked most often is whether someone with no spin experience can benefit from her class. The answer she always gives is, “Yes.”
Samen, along with the other student fitness instructors, work hard to make sure that their classes are accessible to individuals of all fitness levels. Samen accomplishes this goal by encouraging her students to bike at their own pace and to think about their own progress rather than on the people around them. “We turn the lights low, we keep our eyes closed for most of the class, and it’s a time for everyone to just focus on themselves. I tell my students to worry about themselves and the bike. It’s not about the person next to you, and it’s not about the numbers on the screen. It’s about how hard you can work for an hour.”
Samen believes that there are major benefits to being a fitness instructor at Wellesley and she highly recommends the path to students who are interested. Her favorite part of the job is meeting new people on campus and helping them reach their personal goals. She says, “Two years ago I had a student give me feedback that she’s never felt stronger, more beautiful or more in love with what her body could do. Hearing that I brought that out in her was the best and most rewarding compliment I could have ever received.”
In addition to helping others, teaching spin has also taught Samen much about life. “I think that one of the things being a student fitness instructor here has taught me is that life doesn’t necessarily get easier, but you can learn how to get stronger. When you commit to something 110 percent the results do come. Change happens in that space where you’re willing to be uncomfortable and you’re willing to take risks and accept challenges. Once you reach that point, you can really start to make a difference in your physical and mental state.”
Those with additional questions about fitness classes or instruction should contact Rebecca Kimball, Director of Sports Performance and Fitness.