Fight freshman fats with fitness facts

Students utilize the free fitness area outside the Student Life Center. There are also indoor workout facilities, including cardio, machines and free weights. Photo illustration by Kristen DeHaven | Multimedia Journalist

By Preston Gossett | Arts & Life Editor

With some helpful tips from Campus Recreation and Baylor nutritionists, the “Freshman 15” can be nothing more than high-school graduation click bait.

According to Van Smith-Davis, assistant director of the Department of Wellness, one of the common misconceptions about the “Freshman 15” is that there just is not time to exercise because of studying, schoolwork and more studying. Smith-Davis said studies prove there is a direct correlation between physical activity and academic success.

“I can almost guarantee that if you are active on a regular basis – you’re going to have higher academic success,” Smith-Davis said. “It’s research showing that this is what’s happening.”

Stan Wilfong, a senior lecturer in nutrition sciences, and other Baylor professors and specialists recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night, to avoid late-night snacking, and then skipping breakfast to sleep in. Wilfong said there is a direct correlation between skipping breakfast and having a higher body mass index.
“Eat regular meals, plan it out, know what you’re doing by getting educated on it,” Wilfong said. “We have peer nutrition educators from my department that are all undergraduates – that are available for three one-hour one-on-one sessions in nutrition.”

Baylor’s FitWell Program kicks off the school year with a free week of classes for freshmen and other students to try out. If they enjoy them, they can officially sign up after Labor Day.

The FitWell program only costs $50 for the whole semester. More than just making it a simple one-time payment, but FitWell and Smith-Davis have tried to make it as hassle-free as possible. FitWell provides the staff, the classes and the music – all students have to do is show up.

“Someone can come in and do something different every day,” Smith-Davis said. “Somebody that likes more mind and body, they can do yoga and barre. Somebody who might like to dance, they could do zumba; and somebody who likes boxing programs can do MMA or taekwondo. For someone who likes CrossFit, F45 would definitely meet their needs.”

Another way to get active at Baylor, according to the director of Campus Recreation, Kim Scott, is to head to the Pullin Family Marina. Not only is paddling a kayak or canoe a good arm workout, but once you get out on the river, you’re experiencing nature, which is calming in and of itself, Scott said.

Another thing that students could take advantage of is the 2.25-mile outdoor Bear Trail that winds around campus. Campus Recreation started working with the Bobo Spiritual Life Center this past year, and now on every Bear Trail sign at every quarter mile, there is a scripture or a breathing technique. The signs are meant to help free the minds of walkers and runners, Scott said.

“When you get your blood pumping by [exercising], it clears your mind so that you can actually absorb more information,” Scott said. “If you’ll work out and then go study, you’ll find you have the energy and the retention because your brain cells are fully oxygenated.”