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Heel Fit offers strength training to small groups of students

A student leaves UNC's Student Recreation Center on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. The SRC can be overwhelming, Heel Fit offers smaller fitness classes for students.

Some students think that the gyms at UNC can be overwhelming. Though Campus Recreation offers large fitness classes, they often do not provide the necessary attention from instructors some might need. 

Heel Fit, a small group fitness program operated by Campus Recreation and housed on the second floor of the Student Recreation Center, aims to provide an environment that strikes a happy medium between the two.

“It's a smaller group of people in a class with personal trainers or group fitness instructors,” Aliyah Valdez, the fitness and wellness coordinator at Campus Recreation, said. “And, really the goal there is more intricate and more intimate feedback, as opposed to a group fitness class where there's so many people you might not be able to always give one-on-one or hands-on feedback to a participant.”

Each Heel Fit class is 50-minutes long and there are 12 different strength training sessions offered Monday through Thursday each week. Classes are offered in cycles of four weeks, and activities progress in difficulty each week. 

“If someone were to attend Heel Fit every Monday for the entire cycle one, they would be doing harder moves, heavier weights, different modalities. So, what I mean by that is maybe adding kettlebells versus barbells, different things like that,” Valdez said.

For students, a one-month pass costs $25 and a semester pass is $45. Non-students are also able to attend Heel Fit classes, but month and semester passes are $30 and $60, respectively. For a $10 fee, anyone can attend a single class. 

Participants can attend unlimited classes throughout the duration of their pass, but must reserve their spot for a session 48 hours in advance. Each workout class is limited to eight attendees in order to maximize the attention each participant receives from the coach. 

“So we have four (participants) that start on one side of the room and four that start on the other side of the room," Valdez said. "They'll go through whatever movements are dedicated to that side, and then halfway through, they switch. And then at the end, there's typically a challenge or a core burner or something like that just to wrap it up, and everyone will do that together.”

Junior Katherine Reeves bought a semester pass to Heel Fit for the first time this year and consistently attends classes twice a week.

“I really love it," Reeves said. "I think sometimes strength training can be intimidating, so it's nice when people can help show you what to do. And when you have a group environment, it makes it a lot more fun too.”

Valdez said the instructors for each session are students who started working for Campus Recreation as group fitness instructors or personal trainers and progressed into coaching Heel Fit. 

For the first time this semester, class curriculums have been designed by UNC graduate student Kacie Mollin, who is employed as a student services specialist.

“When planning programs, I am careful to select exercises that progress over time, train each major muscle group in a balanced way and choose exercises that can be adapted so that all participants can enjoy Heel Fit,” Mollin said in an email statement. 

Valdez hopes the program will develop into consistent groups of participants that attend classes at the same times each week. 

“We want to start encouraging folks to continue to go," Valdez said. "So, if they dedicate themselves to Heel Fit on Monday — show up every Monday. But right now, someone can show up Monday one week, Thursday the next week, Tuesday the next, and it's still a progression in strength."

The third and final cycle of the fall semester will begin Oct. 24. 


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