Two weeks into the semester and you’re already bored of the same monotonous workout routine? Have you even made it off your brand new futon to check out a gym? Don’t sweat! There’s an entire year ahead to experience Yale and New Haven’s alternatives to becoming an exercise automaton or a full-blown couch potato. Start the year off right by exploring some of the numerous activities the community has to offer.
When one considers working out, the mind automatically goes to the gigantic Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Usually, that’s one of the best places to start. The gym offers fee and non-fee classes to Yalies, from beginning ballet to Egyptian dance to Pilates to fencing and ice skating. Interested parties can grab a schedule of all classes at the gym and learn about other opportunities such as instruction in horseback riding, tennis and golf, as well. But if even walking to the gym doesn’t seem like a pleasurable prospect, Silliman College’s bouldering gym may be exactly what you’re looking for.
“Anybody can use the gym at any time,” said Anthony Anagnostou ’03, president of the Yale Climbing Club, which uses Silliman’s gym extensively. “With a little bit of instruction, you can make huge progress.”
To get to the recently renovated gym, the easiest way is to make your way into the basement passing through entryway G in the college.
“Climbing is not all about muscle. It’s about agility, grace, and flexibility,” Anagnostou said. “Anybody can learn to climb. Plus, it’s cheap to join, you get a free T-shirt and get to go on trips with us.”
To get involved with the Yale Climbing Club, visit their Web site at www.yale.edu/climbing.
For Yalies who want to practice martial arts, the Yale University Shotokan Karate Club, offers two ways to do so. The club competes as a club sport as well as providing general karate classes, club President Alexander Abdo ’03 said.
Karate, he added, allows Yalies to “learn control of their bodies, to channel energy, to make sure your movements are efficient.”
“We don’t practice for competitions as much as we try to focus on training our bodies,” Abdo said. “The spirit of the club is personal training. It’s a good way to relax, and it’s fun, too.”
The general classes are for people who are not necessarily sure they want to make the commitment to a team. Both are open to all levels of experience, Abdo said. And you can decide how often you come. The club meets Mondays and Wednesdays for an hour and a half. Dues are $60 a month.
Two new exercise opportunities offered to the community this year and sponsored by the theater ensemble, The Control Group, are Suzuki and Viewpoints training classes. Suzuki, developed in Japan in the 1960s, allows the participant to rediscover the rigor and virtuosity necessary for the classical stage through the confrontation of impossible physical tasks. Viewpoints, a program created by Anne Bogart in the 1960s and 1970s, stresses physical specificity in order to strengthen connections between a person’s body and other bodies on stage, bodies in an audience, and the stage itself.
“Suzuki and Viewpoints are definitely fine-tuning as training for performers, but at the base of the systems, they make you a stronger human being who is able to function more courageously in a challenging and chaotic world — ideal workouts for anybody living in this frenetic mess we call Yale,” said Mike Wighton ’03, director of The Control Group and one of the classes’ teachers.
Both programs are open to the entire Yale community.
“It’d be great to have non-performers in the classes, as well,” said Wighton. The classes plan to meet for an hour and a half each week throughout the semester. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
For other less obvious options for exercise, one could try the Yale Anti-Gravity Society or the Freestyle Dueling Association. The Anti-Gravity Society practices juggling twice a week, said Emlen Smith ’03, last year’s president.
“You don’t have to be a member of the club to join us,” Smith said. Juggling, he added, “is a workout as you juggle more balls and clubs. Some of us even do a little acrobatics.”
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Freestyle Dueling Association’s members “get together to have fun fighting with each other,” member Avi Robinson-Mosher ’04 said.
“It’s good for the leg muscles,” Nathaniel Rowe ’04 added. “You have no idea how relaxing it is to whack people with foam swords.”
A myriad of workout alternatives can be found within the New Haven community. The New Haven Ballet and the Neighborhood Music School both offer dance classes to the public, and the newly opened yoga studios, Bikram Yoga and Fresh Yoga, provide yoga instruction at a cheap price.
The New Haven Ballet offers jazz, tap and ballet classes to all levels of experience at their Audubon Street headquarters.
“We love to open our doors to Yale students, especially for those who have trained all their lives,” said Phillip Otto, the ballet’s artistic director. “With our classes, you get the best of both worlds. You’re working out and learning an art form and appreciation for an art form.”
The Neighborhood Music School, also located on Audubon Street, offers yoga, West African dance, ballroom, salsa, swing and Renaissance dance lessons. Michelle Maitland, the school’s program manager, said that limited financial aid is available to students who want to take classes but cannot pay the full price. A good opportunity to scope out the place is at its open house on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fresh Yoga, located on Peck Street, past the Peabody Museum, teaches Ashtanga yoga. The system of moving postures is characterized by a central emphasis on breathing.
“It’s a flowing form of yoga that is particularly good for intense people with a lot of energy who really need to relax at the same time,” said Torey Ungerland, a director of the studio. “You burn energy off with postures which have a strong relaxing effect. It’s particularly good for people with a lot of stress.”
Student discounts are available for Yalies.
The new Bikram Yoga studio on Elm Street teaches a form of Hatha yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury. This type of yoga consists of 26 postures that make up a 90-minute workout that say they will leave the participant detoxified. Using mirrors and a heated room, students focus on the different postures, teacher Karen Drost said.
“In those 90 minutes, you work every single part of your body, and you’re not thinking about anything else,” she said.
Sean Coakley, the studio’s director, said he is enthusiastic to invite Yalies to learn the practice every day. In fact, there are student discounts available. Currently, the studio is running a $50 two-week unlimited special. The rates for classes are negotiable depending on financial need, Coakley said.
“We like to be flexible with our students,” said Drost. “It’s about the yoga, not about the cost.”