OXFORD, Miss. – Deetra Wiley never thought of herself as someone who exercises until she discovered a RebelWell kettlebell and total body resistance workout class.
The University of Mississippi applications analyst and business communication specialist figured she’d try the kettlebell class offered by RebelWell as part of its “New Year New You” program. Wiley swung the cannonball-like object with a handle, which is branded as a modern piece of fitness equipment, and also did squats, lunges and used ropes hanging from the ceiling until she was sore.
“After my first kettlebell-TRX class, I was extremely sore the next few days, but I knew I had to keep going and stay motivated,” Wiley said. “Within the first week, I could see some toning. My body feels great. I have even more energy, and I sleep better through the night.”
In the kettlebell-TRX class, participants are encouraged to get in groups of four or five and move through various exercise stations using the kettlebell or other techniques. Wiley said this reminds her of the importance of teamwork.
“I love being part of a team to accomplish tasks, goals and, in this case, exercise,” she said.
The winners of this year’s “New Year New You” challenge are Pam Barefield, executive assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs, and John Berns, assistant professor of management. Both were successful in attending the workouts, weighing in and losing the most weight, percentagewise, over the six-week challenge.
RebelWell sponsors several faculty, staff and student fitness classes to give everyone a chance to work out with peers, led by a certified instructor. The classes are $30 per semester for those without a Turner Center membership and free to members.
The slate includes Zumba and Groovin’ and Movin’, cycling, yoga, aqua aerobics and TRX, which is a body-weight suspension training exercise, and a Kettlebell and TRX fusion class.
The programs started with only four classes a year ago, said Andy Karch, a certified instructor and coordinator of fitness for the Department of Campus Recreation. The number has grown to nine offerings.
This spring, 86 faculty and staff members are signed up, 56 of whom aren’t Turner Center members and otherwise wouldn’t have be able to benefit from training there.
Each class has about 20 participants. Their enthusiasm is inspiring, Karch said.
“The group’s consistency, energy and excitement towards the classes is incredible to see,” Karch said. “These classes are highly sought-after by our students due to the commitment, energy and just plain fun that the faculty and staff bring to them.”
The instructors and participants should be commended for helping the classes grow, said Andrea M. Jekabsons, associate director of human resources who works with RebelWell.
“The challenge, ‘New Year, New You!’ really seemed to resonate with our employees, and they continue to be committed to making the classes,” Jekabsons said. “It is rewarding to see how far we have come from no faculty and staff classes, to two held in the Thad Cochran Research Center’s atrium, to a comprehensive schedule of nine options a week at the Turner Center.”
JoAnne Costa, executive assistant to the vice chancellor for finance and administration, has been participating in a variety of classes this semester but finds strength training the most beneficial.
“Walking or other cardio activities are easy enough to do on my own, but strength training is not,” Costa said. “While I am not looking to bulk up, I understand the importance of maintaining muscle mass, and the guidance provided in these classes have been very helpful toward this goal.”
Costa has attended some of the “Sunrise Strengthening and Training” sessions with Ben Fleming, assistant coordinator of strength and conditioning in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Olympic sports area. All the campus fitness instructors have helped her tremendously, Costa said.
“Each class offers a unique physical challenge and the instructors are great at adapting the exercises to accommodate different fitness levels,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of student instructors, and it has been a pleasure getting to know them and hearing about their classes and activities.”
Dinorah Sapp, lecturer and professional development coordinator for the Intensive English Program, first enrolled in the fitness classes in spring 2016. She began with Zumba and yoga and is taking the TRX and kettlebell class and an occasional cardio session. They help her “let loose” and decompress during the day, she said.
Sapp is grateful to the university for supporting the programs, and also thankful for the efforts of the Turner Center staff.
“These classes are lifesavers,” Sapp said. “I also wanted to keep my exercise routine and to strengthen my body and spirit. I’ve seen a difference in my physical and mental health.”
Wiley said the classes offer opportunities to meet employees from across campus that she may only speak with over the phone. Putting faces with names and building friendships by persevering through tough workouts is fun, she said.
“The best self-motivation for me was to keep smiling through the hardest activities,” Wiley said. “The participants are awesome and their endurance motivated me as well.”
The biggest obstacle to staying committed is forcing herself to get out of the office and go. Once she enters the gym, she gets excited.
“It’s so easy to get engrossed in work and tell yourself that you can do it another day,” Wiley said. “However, there have been times when I would push myself to go, even though I’d get there later. The way I see it, some exercise is better than none!”