The first rule of UB Fit Club: you talk about UB Fit Club
Determination, sweat lead on-campus exercise revolution to promote healthy living
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 15:02
While he was recovering from an emergency appendectomy, Joseph Steet gained 70 pounds from the fall of 2010 to the end of the year. With a diet mainly consisting of Taco Bell, Four Loko and mozzarella sticks, Steet weighed 210 pounds.
Two years later, he weighs 165 pounds.
Steet’s physical transformation started with UB Fit Club. One morning, he woke up to an email from Randy Thompson, the founder of UB Fit Club, informing him weigh-ins and baseline tests were that very afternoon.
Steet then remembered walking through the Student Union the afternoon before, “fairly inebriated,” and signing up for UB Fit Club’s Biggest Loser competition. Despite joining accidently, Steet went on to win the contest by losing the most weight.
UB Fit Club, a Student Association club that gained permanent status this year, strives to push students to find their inner athlete. The club received temporary status in 2010 and has been providing free workout classes for students ever since. The club promotes healthy lifestyles through conditioning classes, a CrossFit-style cornerstone and nutrition workshops.
The classes aren’t easy, which is something Steet realized quickly in his first class. He ran up 24 flights of stairs and was exhausted.
That was only the warm-up.
“We promise you that by the end [of a conditioning class], you will be on your ass, staring up into the ceiling in a puddle of your own sweat, thinking: ‘What the hell just happened to me?’” said Thompson, a senior exercise science major. “And then you’ll come back for more.”
Steet agreed. After his first class, he couldn’t stop complaining about the difficulty of the class – but he also couldn’t wait for the next one.
A typical session contains some basic elements – such as warm-ups, dynamic stretching, body weight exercises and cardio circuits – but no two workouts are the same, according to Shauna Murphy, a sophomore exercise science major and the UB Fit Club president. Whether members are doing “under-overs” (jump over another person, who is in a push-up position, then crawl underneath them) or “burpees” (standing, drop to a squat, extend into plank position, back to squat, then stand again), each class helps them become better than the day before, Murphy said.
Although they are not certified trainers, Murphy and sophomore exercise science major Michael Reinhardt provide difficult workouts that are designed to “kick your butt but not kill you,” according to Murphy.
Murphy believes students might be intimidated by the club; they might believe the classes contain elite individuals working out and some could be nervous to join. But she stresses no matter your skill level, UB Fit Club is for you. The trainers excel at specific tailoring for each member, Murphy said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re an MMA fighter, a lacrosse player, a weekend warrior or haven’t exercised in years,” Thompson said. “You’re all able to work out together and, by the end of the day, you’re all going to be on the floor.”
When someone is struggling, members motivate each other to keep going. Steet believes UB Fit is a better workout than going to the gym, largely because of its encouraging environment.
In the two years Murphy has been a part of UB Fit, she has not heard one judgmental comment from anyone. The participants are there to push themselves to be better; the encoragement is contagious.
For the people who have been discouraged from exercising because of people who told them they couldn’t do it, UB Fit Club helps its members to “shut those people up,” said
Courtney Hanusch, a junior exercise science major and the club’s vice president.
If someone is doing a movement incorrectly, the trainers will help. If a movement might be too hard for someone, the trainers will modify it.
The UB Fit Club did not start out the same as it functions today.
The club’s first classes were martial arts conditioning classes for Combined Martial Arts Club (CMAC) taught by Thompson and senior media studies major Ryan Monolopolus. Soon, Thompson began teaching the class by himself.
He kept much of the martial-arts style movements – punching, kicking, kneeing – and the beginning stages of UB Fit Club formed.
Thompson eventually decided on a CrossFit style for the class because it was tough but required no equipment. He stumbled upon CrossFit during his freshman year in his search to get in shape after he joined UB’s boxing club.
“I figured out I liked lifting heavy weights and crazy workouts better than getting punched in the face,” Thompson said.
The club has grown from just hosting conditioning classes. UB Fit Club also deals with nutrition. The club holds workshops, in which the members come together and learn easy, inexpensive healthy recipes – such as chicken with sautéed zucchini and onions. Soon, Murphy hopes to showcase a burger bar with beef, turkey and other burgers along with non-traditional condiments instead of ketchup and mustard.
A majority of the club’s clientele comes from the dorms, so instead of eating chicken fingers and other unhealthy options, the members look for healthier food on campus. With just four ingredients from the Elli, members can make healthy, delicious meals, according to Hanusch.