BGSU Offers Unique Exercise Opportunities through GroupX

Faith Zochowski, Reporter

The Student Recreation Center at BGSU offers many opportunities for students and the Bowling Green community to partake in various types of exercise, including GroupX classes. 

GroupX classes are weekly exercise classes held in the Student Recreation Center and are taught by student instructors and faculty members. Classes are offered at many different times of the day and include cycling, strength circuits, HIIT strength and yoga. GroupX classes have been offered since the Rec opened back in 1979. When it was renovated in 2014, the studios were moved from the first floor to the basement where classes could be held in a more private setting.

Bryant Miller, a third year liberal studies in education major who is the Student Supervisor of Fitness for GroupX, explained that the mindset for classes also shifted.

“We had a resurgence of having inclusivity in our fitness,” Miller said. 

Now there was no mention of body shaming or “burning off meals.” “We aren’t doing this for any other reason than to be happy and to get moving,” he said. 

Membership to the Student Recreation Center is included with tuition for full-time students, and the GroupX classes are a small additional fee. Classes cost $5 per class, or students can purchase a $30 semester pass to take an unlimited amount of classes. The semester pass is offered at a discounted rate of 40% after spring break, which is $17 to take unlimited classes for the rest of the school year.

All instructors must receive certification to teach before being hired as an instructor. Most certification training is done outside of BGSU, but GroupX offers a reimbursement of 75% of the price they paid to receive the certification after they work for one semester.

Abby Gilfillen, a third year AYA math education major from Troy, Ohio became certified to teach spin classes after developing a love for spin while attending spin classes at home during COVID-19. She teaches two 45-minute cycling classes each week.

“If I wasn’t teaching spin classes, I would still make time to spin,” Gilfillen said. “Teaching spin doesn’t feel like a job.”

Strength circuits and stretching instructor Olivia Oblak uses her seventeen years of dance background in her classes. The second year nursing major from Tallmadge, Ohio began looking for a job when she came to campus, and GroupX was the perfect option for both her experience as a dance teacher and as a paying job.

Miller continues to teach yoga twice a week along with her supervising job and has been an instructor since October of 2020. Both Miller and Gilfillen are also active in the outreach program which allows outside organizations and clubs to host their own private classes. Campus organizations specifically get a discounted rate of $30 per class.

To prepare for her cycling classes, Gilfillen listens to new music on the weekends to create new playlists each week for her classes. Each class also features a new set of moves, and she lets the music dictate which song she will use for each exercise whether that be a standing hill, hill climb or sitting sprint. She even takes song requests from friends and regulars who attend cycling.

Oblak also spends about an hour each week to prepare and determine what exercises she wants to include in her class. She uses exercises she learned from one of her dance classes where the teacher was big on, “being stronger to be a better dancer.” As a dancer, she only ever knew exercise in the form of group classes, so exercising with a group is comfortable to her.

As a supervisor, Miller works behind the scenes with studio cleanups and refills. She also works one-on-one with instructors, assigns mentors with mentees, and assists with hiring and new hire orientation. This past month in February, Miller started the “Spread the Love Campaign.” The challenge was to attend 14 GroupX classes during the month of February to receive the prize of an inclusive body image sticker and to be entered into a raffle for a goodie bag.

Miller initially started the campaign for employees to encourage them to attend other instructor’s classes but decided to open it up to everyone. She has seen an increase in class numbers for February when usually the numbers go down right before spring break and come up after.

Miller is proud to see that the challenge is encouraging people to try GroupX.

“Seeing that people actually are trying new classes and going to classes they have never gone to before and going and bringing their friends with them is really great to see,” she said.

Miller has seen a recent increase overall in class sizes with at least five full GroupX classes per week. Gilfillen has seen an increase in her sizes since last semester when her average was about 10 per class. That has since doubled to about 20 per class with both of her classes typically filling up completely each week. Oblak also has higher numbers than last semester with a minimum of about 12 per class compared to her average of four last semester.

“It’s been exciting to have people that are excited to come because I’m excited to teach it, so it’s nice to have people that are looking forward to being there as well,” Oblak said.

Oblak enjoys teaching and “being the leader of something that’s healthy.”

“I like being the person that can be like, ‘Come on in. You can be healthy and it can be fun. You can enjoy exercises. You don’t have to hide in the gym,” she said.

Gilfillen loves meeting new people that come to her class and seeing returning faces.

“It’s a fun, creative outlet, and I don’t know what I’d do without it,” she said.

As a supervisor, Miller loves seeing the growth in the instructors she works with.

“Seeing them blossom and be so happy and confident is so awesome to see,” she said.

All three instructors encourage everyone to try GroupX despite any hesitation.

Miller advocates that GroupX is open to everybody. “If you think you aren’t going to look like someone in there, you’re not going to be at the same skill level as somebody in there, I promise somebody looks exactly like you, somebody is at the exact same skill level, someone is just as nervous being in there, but the community you create while you’re in those classes is so fun,” she said.

Oblak agrees with the inclusivity aspect of GroupX.

“It’s an environment that you can find your place in. People are coming for the same reason that you’re coming. They’re all hesitant. It’s worth the shot to see if you like it,” she said.

Gilfillen pushes the idea that attending cycling is worth your time.

“They’re not going to be easy, but you’ll leave feeling glad you came,” she said.

Miller reiterates the feeling of belonging and acceptance within GroupX.

She said, “Everybody else is going through the exact same thing. They’re down there to be comfortable, they’re down there to be nonjudgmental to get that experience that they might not get on the weight floor.” For more information on GroupX schedules and purchasing a pass, visit the Student Rec Center website.