Group Fitness Goes Beyond Exercise, Creates “Like-minded Student Community” – The Crow’s Nest at USF St. Petersburg


Group fitness classes aim to help students exercise both body and mind.

Courtesy of USF


By Sofia García Vargas

Whether students practice yoga, meditation, or bootcamp-style fitness, group fitness classes at USF St. Petersburg offer experiences for all exercise styles.

Organized by Campus Recreation, Group Fitness aims to promote exercise in a fun way while creating a sense of community for students.

Offering six different classes each day of the week, except Thursday, students can exercise their body as well as their mind.

Fitness coordinator Leah Reynolds said group yoga classes are the most popular on the St. Petersburg campus. Yoga Flow and Restorative Yoga are two such classes, each focusing on holding poses and stretching.

“We also have more relaxing classes like mindful meditation, and we organize that with the wellness center,” Reynolds said.

Other classes include Soul Fusion, which mixes muscle endurance and yoga, and Bootcamps, which focus on high-intensity interval training.

Campus Recreation also hosts special monthly group fitness events like Sunset Yoga on The Edge Deck.

Classes are led by student instructors from USF, providing them with a platform to develop work experience.

“We’ve gone from hiring outside instructors and community instructors to a willingness to focus on student development,” Reynolds said. “We are offering a new preparatory course; students can take the course and learn to become an instructor or personal trainer. If they take the course and get certified, they can be a student employee with us on campus and teach.

The group fitness program remains the same throughout the semester, but will change based on feedback from student instructors and class participants.

Group fitness schedule for the fall 2021 session. Courtesy of Group Fitness.

Campus Recreation was unable to offer in-person classes at the onset of the pandemic and took to social media to provide quick workouts and nutritional advice to the USF community.

“During the pandemic, people were spending more time on computers and technology than before. So just coming up with a 10 minute video of a yoga stretch really helped a lot of people, ”Reynolds said.

To follow college COVID-19 safety guidelines, Group Fitness offers cleaning products to disinfect fitness equipment and encourages social distancing.

Reynolds said she runs group fitness classes for students who aren’t used to going to the gym.

“Helping students feel more comfortable walking into the gym and giving them space to make friends, work out and have something to look forward to constantly is our goal,” said Reynolds.

Group Fitness also allows students to take a break between school and work, release stress and focus on themselves.

“It really creates a community of like-minded students. If the students come to Bootcamp, they start to make friends, they go to dinner together, and start doing homework together. Then they feel like they have people on campus to connect with and do things with, ”Reynolds said.

“I think that’s the number one reason to come: to be a part of a bigger community and still have that consistent thing to turn to every week.”

Registration is required to attend group fitness classes.

To register visit recshop.usfsp.edu/

To become a personal trainer or instructor, email Fitness Coordinator Leah Reynolds at [email protected]


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