Rec center attempts to combat ‘Freshman 15’

Jessie Marks

Everyone hears warnings about what to expect during the first year of college. But one warning looms about 15 pounds larger than the others.

Just about every college student has heard of the legendary “Freshman 15,” and many have experienced it firsthand. Students can avoid gaining that extra weight that seems to accompany freshman year.

Ben Cope, recreation program coordinator at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, said increased caloric intake, decreased physical activity and a slowing metabolism are three big contributors to the Freshman 15.

Cope said exercise and nutrition must go hand-in-hand to battle the Freshman 15.

“At the end of the day, you could have exercised for two hours, but if you’ve taken in 500 extra calories it doesn’t matter how much you exercised,” Cope said.

The rec center offers a variety of programs and services to help students avoid the Freshman 15. Nutrition services, personal training and group classes help students develop healthful habits that will last beyond freshman year.

Nutrition Services

At the rec center, students can determine their metabolic rate, get a diet analysis, attend nutrition counseling and get a personalized diet prescription from a registered dietitian.

Cope said these services can help students adjust to a new lifestyle of being responsible for their own nutrition.

“You’re on your own, and it is a whole other lifestyle because it’s a lot of grab-and-go – you’re on the run, you’re studying and you’re trying to balance everything,” Cope said. “Nutrition is something new, and if you don’t have any direction, it can get lost in the shuffle.”

The rec center offers metabolic testing. Students take a breath test that measures their personal resting metabolic rate so they can accurately plan a healthy daily caloric intake. The test costs $25 for students.

“It’s not like Freshman 15 happens all of a sudden – it could be 50 calories a day that you’re over,” Cope said. “It’s not going to show the first month or two, but six months down the road, you get on the scale and weigh five more pounds and wonder how it happened.”

One-Day and Three-Day Diet Analyses are available at the rec center. Students enter everything they eat during the time period into a computer program called Food Works. Food Works then determines the nutritional strengths and weaknesses of students’ diets. The cost to students is $6 for One-Day and $19 for Three-Day Diet Analyses.

Nutrition Counseling is available to students for $17 a session. It consists of one-on-one sessions with a registered dietitian. Students can discuss anything related to diet and nutrition, including concerns and goals.

For $17, students can purchase a Diet Prescription, essentially a one-week food plan, prepared by a dietitian after completing a Three-Day Diet Analysis. The Diet Prescription is custom designed to help students reach their individual nutritional goals.

Cope’s advice to avoid the Freshman 15 is for students to remain conscious of the foods they eat despite the transition into college life.

“You’re going to meet friends, and you usually end up eating what they eat,” Cope said. “Keep that in mind, and be an individual – think about what you’re putting into your body.”

Personal training

The rec center offers one-on-one personal training sessions with certified personal trainers. The trainers help students develop exercise programs that are tailored to their current fitness level and specific fitness goals.

“Some people want to gain muscle mass, and some people want to lose weight and some people are training for a triathlon or other event,” Cope said.

Sessions with certified personal trainers range from 30 to 60 minutes, and students can purchase a single session to a 20-session package based on individual needs. The cost to students for a single 30-minute session is $17, and the price per session decreases when a multi-session package is purchased.

In order to schedule personal training sessions, students must first complete a Fitness Assessment and Three-Day Diet Analysis.

“The Fitness Assessment is a comprehensive printout of where you are at physically,” Cope said. “We do cardiovascular, endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and body composition.”

Liz Walko, senior human movement and sports medicine major, is one of six certified personal trainers at the rec center. She said the personal training program benefits people of all fitness levels.

“I see a wide range of people; some are really fit and some are very out of shape,” Walko said. “But you have to start somewhere.”

Walko said the personal training program is helpful for students who are new to exercise because they learn new techniques, and the trainers ensure that students use proper form as they exercise.

“It’s better to learn the right form with someone watching than to come here alone and be doing the wrong things,” Walko said.

Cope said the personal training program helps students who need a more structured exercise program.

Personal training is also geared toward students who need extra motivation to exercise regularly.

“The majority of the time people do training because they want to be accountable,” Cope said. “You have somebody that you’re accountable to. You have appointments and the accountability factor is huge.”

Walko’s advice to students on avoiding the Freshman 15 is to get a fitness routine started immediately.

“Don’t let it get so bad that you just let yourself go,” Walko said. “Make exercise a priority.”

Group X

Group X classes at the rec center offer a wide variety of group fitness sessions throughout the day.

Group X classes last from 45 to 60 minutes, and the cost to students for a single class is $3. Students can also purchase a 12-punch pass for $30 or unlimited Group X for the semester for $40. Focus of classes ranges from spinning to kickboxing to ZUMBA and more.

Walko, who teaches group fitness classes, said there is a Group X class for every sensibility, whether students desire an aerobic workout, toning, or a combination of both. She suggests students try several classes to learn what works best for them.

“If you can, find one class you really like and make it a weekly event,” Walko said. “Get into a routine right off the bat, and make it a priority to come to the rec center.”

Students who want to learn more about Group X or want to try different classes before making a financial commitment can try them for free during Demo Week, which runs from Sept. 2 to 8.

Cope said Group X classes are also a way for students to build social networks while they exercise.

A complete list of the Group X class offerings can be found in the Recreational Services Fall 2008 Program Guide. Students can get a copy of the Program Guide in the lobby of the rec center.

Rec center offers activities for students

The Student Recreation and Wellness Center offers a variety of activities for students, whether they are trying to stay fit, get involved in sports or just want to meet people and try something new.

For students enrolled in five or more credit hours at the Kent campus, the cost of using the rec center is covered by their tuition. Students enrolled in fewer than five credit hours can purchase a student membership for $70 per semester to use the rec center.

The rec center is open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m to midnight, Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Students must bring their FlashCard for admission.

For more information on the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, call (330) 672-4REC or go online to


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Source: The Student Recreation and Wellness Center Web site

Contact student recreation and wellness reporter Jessie Marks at [email protected].