Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, April 22, 2018

Program encourages fitness

The Jacobs Fitness Center plans to host the Turkey Slim-down, a fitness contest throughout the pre-holiday season, in which AU students may participate to try to burn the most calories.

The center's staff named the program, which it calls a "holiday calorie workout challenge." The program, which is free, will last from Oct. 20 to Dec. 1 and is open to anyone signed up at the center.

There were 34 members signed up to participate in the contest as of Sunday. All participants initially receive a free weight and health assessment. The participant who burns the most calories by Dec. 1 wins a $25 gift card to a sports store, which is yet to be decided. There will be one male and one female winner, according to Crystal Beck, health and fitness supervisor at the Jacobs Fitness Center.

Participants may work out in the fitness center, outside on AU's campus, or in the community. Workouts must be recorded at the front desk of the fitness center directly after the workout, Beck said.

Brittany La Forge, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the contest might cause participants to incorporate fitness into their lives and live healthier. It is a positive challenge that will improve the health and lives of students.

"It is important that we lead healthy lives and I believe whoever wants to take up the challenge is strong-willed," she said. "This is a chance for participants to work up their fitness levels in a healthy way."

Meghan McNally, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, said she thinks a weight-loss competition will promote support of a negative body image because the goal is to lose as much weight as possible.

"I think [this contest] is questionable," she said. "Most of us are still young and have good bodies and fast metabolisms and we don't need the on-campus gym to be reinforcing negative body images."

A new study from Medfinds found that five hours of exercise per week helps keep weight off. When a number of overweight women in the study added 55 minutes of exercise a day to their lives, they were able to keep 10 percent of their original body weight off.

To participate in the program, students need to identify their weight, height, age and gender. This will help Jacobs Fitness Center staff calculate accurate calories burned for the activity and length of activity. This will be recorded after each workout at the front desk of the fitness center. The center held an optional pre-assessment which determined participants' body fat, body circumference, weight, blood pressure, and an optional overhead squat assessment, which is about strength and flexibility. At the end of the program, participants may take the test again to see if there are any changes, according to Beck.

Students can sign up at the Jacobs Fitness Center front desk to participate in the challenge. The program requires mandatory participation of at least six workouts during the program and each participant will receive a free T-shirt.

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