My Experience With Small Group Training at the RAC


Tatiana Joseph-Saunders, Culture Reporter

As the Fall 2020 semester started, there were a lot of adjustments to be made in light of the pandemic, and a lot of students found themselves with new daily routines. Finding a time or space to work out may have been hard for some, especially if online classes were piling up and you wanted to stay away from large groups of people.

One solution to lessen concerns would be taking a Small Group Training (SGT) class at the RAC, and that’s exactly what I did! I participated in the Build and Burn class that focused on weight training, and met in the Conditioning room every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30pm.

Before the Program

One thing that I made sure to note was the great communication the RAC had prior to the first class. I was sent an email the morning of the first class, thanking me for signing for SGT, remind me of the class time, title and location, and assuaging any doubts when it came to varying fitness levels of participants. There were 5 other students in the group with me, and we all were required to wear masks in the class. It was made clear that taking smaller group classes would allow the instructors to really spend time with each participant.

I felt less nervous than others might because I had taken women and weights before, so I was familiar with strength training and with the conditioning room. If you are not familiar with either, I recommend either visiting the RAC and checking out a group fitness class in the room or just to see it. It is the room with big, glass windows and doors on the first floor, that is looking out onto the basketball courts. The room is across the way from the climbing wall.

During the Program

On the first day, it was a very relaxing and an introductory class. The instructor, a senior biochemistry student Olivia Manning, encouraged everyone to talk about our goals and if there are certain things we want to accomplish over the course of the 6 weeks. Some shared they wanted to lose weight, others wanted to get better at a certain exercise, and some just wanted to start integrating healthier habits into their weekly routine. All reasons were accepted and Olivia talked about the ways we could accomplish them all. She made it clear that it was our class, and our input was valued. I really appreciated this, because it made everything seem less intimidating, and it made me feel more confident in finding the best work out for myself.

After we all talked, we got our weight and body fat measured, to refer back to at the end of class. For the first workout, we got a glimpse of the workouts we would have throughout the session.

We warmed up and then did an “As Many Reps As Possible” circuit, with pull-ups, pushups, and squats, with a cool down afterward.

Olivia made sure to always check in with each participant, especially if they seemed to be having difficulty. If necessary, she also provided modifications for exercises but she made sure to see if everyone tried their hardest. She was the one to count on when you needed that extra motivation or someone counting you down on your last few tries. 

In addition to the ones previously mentioned, we did more exercises like walking lunges, deadlifts, crunches, high knees, etc. There were days where we focused a bit more on cardio and others on strength, it was a nice mix, and Olivia always took our opinion/mood into consideration.

After the Program

I really enjoyed the program, I was able to find a safe and consistent workout routine that I felt comfortable in during a pandemic. I spoke to the instructor Olivia Manning and she shared her thoughts on the group and her passion for fitness. “All around, I loved teaching the small group. I really enjoy the class experience and feel like everyone feeds off each other’s energies well. The only downfall is wearing a mask which has made being in the gym extra hard for everyone this semester.”

 When asked what she’d hope her participants would take away from SGT, she answered, “I hope my participants would maybe want to live a more active lifestyle after working with me. Being in the gym and working with clients is the best part of my days. I want my motivation and love for hard work to rub off on people to help push them through other workouts and classes in the future.”

Olivia shared her advice for anyone reading the article, “If I can only share one thing, it’s to get out and get active especially during this pandemic.  It’s hard to have a good attitude about anything right now, but releasing some stress in the gym always seems to help. Whether you want to work with myself or another trainer, go to yoga or spin class, or just go outside for a walk, an active life is a happy life.”