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Lunchtime at McGill: it's not just for eating anymore.
The University and the Department of Athletics are teaming up this year to launch Fit@McGill, a new lunchtime fitness program geared to McGill faculty and staff.
The program is the brainchild of Kate Williams, director of the University Relations Office, and Lydia Martone, manager in the Office of the Vice-President (Administration and Finance).
Last year Martone joined a lunch-hour yoga class and says it helped boost her stamina. "It was a little haven for me for that one hour. I felt refreshed -- not the low that you normally get in the afternoon."
She compared notes with Williams and the duo concluded that a program tailored to the needs of the McGill community could pay dividends. Time is an issue for individuals trying to carve out a few moments from their busy work schedules to buff up their couch potato bods, so the pair thought a program offered at McGill itself during lunch breaks would make the notion of taking a fitness course much more feasible.
Williams adds that finding activities that cater to varying athletic abilities is also a challenge. "The working community is anywhere from 20 to 70, so we're offering classes that meet a range of needs."
Courses will be held daily over 13 weeks and include Tai Chi, Hatha Yoga (a gentle form of yoga), Pilates (full-body conditioning), a Walking Club, Easy Rider (group cycling), Body Design (muscle development to music) and Aqua Fitness and Recess (unconventional aerobics). All will be held either at the University's sports facilities on Pine or on the lower campus.
Apart from the obvious health benefits to the individual employee, Williams hopes that the program will get people away from their desks and in contact with other members of the McGill community. "It gives clerical staff a chance to get on a bike with a senior professor," she says. "And maybe next time you have a problem, you'll know who to talk to because you will have seen them in their shorts."
While Williams and Martone were mulling over their plan, the Department of Athletics was thinking along the same lines. After joining forces, they submitted a proposal and succeeded in getting the University to contribute $50,000 to the pilot project. This helps to reduce the registration cost for staff, who will only have to pay $11.50 (tax included) per course.
Registration has been brisk and courses are already full. In response to the surprising demand, two 11-week courses, Hatha Yoga and Pilates, have been added and will begin October 1. Denis Kotsoros, manager of marketing and promotions for the Department of Athletics, who helped piece together the program, says the positive response likely means that more sections will be offered next semester.
Surveys will be conducted to gauge what other athletic activities people are interested in and new courses may be added based on those preferences.
More information on Fit@McGill is available on their web site at www.fit.mcgill.ca. Classes begin on September 17.