In this Q&A, SCSU’s Fitness Center Coordinator Jessica Scibek, and junior communication student Delly Ben-Toukour, who works in the Fitness Center, answered 10 questions about the Fitness Center, staying healthy and the importance of being active.
1. Why should students/faculty visit the Fitness Center?
Jessica Scibek: The nice thing about coming to our Fitness Center is that it’s really conveniently located for the people who are spending time on campus. We’re doing a really good job of keeping it clean and limiting space so people can participate with social distancing. Everyone is required to wear a mask, but it’s a place where you can still be among people.
Delly Ben-Toukour: Students and faculty should visit the Fitness Center because school is very tough and overwhelming. Coming to the Fitness Center can relieve stress. Just by working out, even seeing the staff smiling and making that connection, will be a great time for students and faculty to come see.
2. What’s one thing you want students and faculty to know about the Fitness Center?
JS: We’re taking so many precautions to maintain cleanliness, maintain social distancing, so it can be nice to go to a place where everyone’s there for the same purpose: to improve their health. It’s nice to come to a place where you can spread out and take care of your physical health, mental well-being, and be among other people who are also interested [in doing the same exercises].
DB: We’re welcoming and we’re open to new ideas. If [students] have any concerns or anything they want to do to make the Fitness Center better, we’re here for it.
3. How has the Fitness Center changed since the pandemic?
JS: We’ve had to restrict certain areas of the gym. We’ve made what we have named “fitness squares,” we’ve turned our group exercise classroom into exercise stations. We’re still going to be able to have that togetherness, that connectedness, but everyone has their own seven-foot square that’s about seven feet away from everyone else.
DB: There’s a lot that changed. Now, people have to go through an app called Altheto and sign up for a reservation. So, they have a time slot for an hour to work out. Then whatever you sign up for you have to stay in that section. We still have to oblige to the CDC standards and recommendations. We still clean up the weights and make sure they’re ready for the next people to use them.
4. What would you say to people that think they’re too busy with class or work to be active or workout?
JS: People know physical activity is important and regular exercise has its benefits, so I think people need to be in a place where the reward is worth the effort. That can come in many forms. Once they’re involved in this exercise program or daily walk with their pet, they now enjoy it. People need to find something that motivates them.
DB: It’s a great help if you’re stressed or you have something overwhelming. Going to the Fitness Center helps you relieve some of that stress. I’m here to talk if anyone wants to speak to me about anything, I’m there for them. It’s a good lifestyle.
5. How often should we be working out or staying active?
JS: The recommendation for the American College of Sports Medicine, to be considered physically active, is 30 minutes of moderate exercise five or more days a week, 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days a week and two days per week of strength training. Ten minutes in the morning walking your dog and 10 minutes walking your dog in the evening. Ten minutes at lunch and 10 minutes before bed, and then just adding on from there.
DB: For me, personally, I try my best to go every day. Monday through Friday for sure and then Saturday and Sunday are rest days. I wouldn’t say go [work out] every single day, but just a certain amount so you’re good and make sure you have a rest day and come back strong. You’re always breaking the tissues in your body when you work out, so you have to take a day to relax.
6. How have you been staying active and healthy?
JS: I’ve become more consistent with weightlifting during this quarantine. I would probably lift two days a week before and now probably consistently three days a week and getting a puppy helped. [My family tries] to do everything we can as a family. We go for walks and try to enjoy the outdoors whenever we can.
DS: When we went in quarantine, I did push-ups and I bought weights for myself. I keep in shape. I would usually run around on my block to keep active. It was tougher, it wasn’t the same as being in a gym, but I did my best. Even going on YouTube and watching workout videos so I can keep myself in shape.
7. What’s your favorite type of exercise?
JS: I have learned to love lifting weights. Lifting weights and using TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise) resistance bands really makes me feel strong, really makes me feel good about myself, and makes me feel empowered. For women especially, just the act of strength training, whether or not there’s a change in body composition or in body strength, makes you feel better about yourself and your body.
DB: I like doing pull-ups. When I was in high school, I had a coach who would always say you have to do these pull-ups so you can get strong. At the time, he didn’t want me to put on weight because I was still young. I used to hate it all the time, so ever since then I’ve loved doing pull-ups because I got better, and I got stronger. It’s my favorite [workout].
8. What are some ways busy students can stay active, even from home?
JS: You don’t have to change your clothes; you don’t have to be in specific workout gear or have lots of fancy tools, but I would say doing some bodyweight exercises: bodyweight squats and push-ups. A resistance band can be a $10 investment and you can do a ton of different exercises. Even using household items, you can do some bicep shoulder curls or shoulder presses.
DB: You can try to work out a little, even putting on a YouTube video and trying to work out with the video is something. It’s tough nowadays, but you have to do your best. It starts with the person. Some people want someone to be with them…you can call someone on Facetime and do some sit-ups and things like that. You can talk and it’s not so much as a workout.
9. Why is following a healthy diet so important, especially now more than ever?
JS: You want to have the nutrients that you need, you want to have the energy that you need and so a lot of the time, for a lot of college students, energy may come from quick grab and go items. Sometimes they don’t have fiber, sometimes they don’t have fruits and vegetables, they sometimes have high sugar, high fat that’s temporarily satisfying but might lead to more cravings.
DB: Now, because everyone’s outside, there’s not a lot to do, so I think it’s important to follow a healthy diet. It depends also on what you’re trying to do with your body. For me, when I was younger, I was really skinny so now I eat a lot of protein, I eat a lot more so I can build that muscle and gain more mass. If you want to lose weight, you have to eat [healthy] things and have smaller portions. Again, it all depends on what you really want to get into or work into.
10. What are your healthy eating tips/suggestions?
JS: Paying attention to nutrition and making sure you’re eating enough for the activities you’re going to be participating in. If you’re going to be working all day…you need the energy to get through that, operating at your best. Listen to your body when you need breaks and staying hydrated are really important, but the most important thing would be to make sure you have enough, using the resources you have, on and off-campus.
DB: Go online and search up healthy meals. If I want to build muscle, I’ll look up nutrition and whatever I need to be healthy. It’s all about research. I do a lot of research, there’s a lot we don’t know. My mom used to make me rice and meat and it had spinach in it. That was good because it would be everything that I needed to build muscle and be healthy. Rice is great with protein and spinach and a very healthy meal.
By Elizabeth Mercado