After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, Taylor Gym is operating its fitness classes at total capacity this semester.
Taylor Gym has a roster of 27 classes offered a week in multiple disciplines. Body pump, yoga, Zumba and spin classes are some of the options available to students in the gym’s fitness center.
Genna Albano, assistant manager for fitness and instructional programs, said Taylor Gym’s classes present opportunities for students who are trying to get back into the swing of exercising or have never been inside a fitness facility but want to learn how to exercise productively.
“The workout is already planned for you — you just have to show up,” Albano said. “Your instructor is trained to guide you through a workout safely and maximize your time in the space by getting you moving effectively.”
Shifting away from pandemic operations, Albano said Taylor Gym has been having a hard time getting the message out about classes to students, many of whom have spent time at Lehigh in either remote or hybrid learning environments.
This is the first year since 2019 in which fitness classes are being offered in person, without masks and appointments. Before the pandemic, Albano said all classes were at maximum capacity and the gym itself was at peak usage.
Core class instructor Jenna Rose said she’s noticed, as a result of the pandemic, many students have found their own workout routines at home or have signed up at other gyms in the Lehigh Valley. She said she thinks Taylor Gym and its offerings are of higher value than the alternatives students have sought.
For students, the cost of 13 weeks of unlimited classes is $89. For faculty, it’s $120. The student value works out to approximately $7 per class.
Alternatively, students may purchase a $10 day pass to pay for one class session. Registered members of the fitness classes, however, get priority for spots in packed classes.
“When it comes down to (roughly) six bucks a week, you can’t compare that to other gyms,” Rose said. “There’s way more than that to offer here, too. It’s extremely convenient. They’re absolutely incomparable, if not better.”
In the first week of each semester, Albano said Taylor Gym advertises free classes to students and faculty as a way to get people to try out a session and boost their revenue stream for the school year.
Albano said the university does not allocate a budget for the gym’s fitness classes and equipment, which is why students and faculty have to pay.
But, the pandemic isn’t the only thing that has changed Taylor Gym over the last few years.
Albano said when she first began working at the university in December 2011, there were no academic classes offered during lunchtime hours or after 4 p.m. Now, Albano said those times are not off limits, which has led to a shift in participation in fitness classes for students and faculty who no longer have time in their day to work out.
The staff size at Taylor Gym has also increased since then.
Albano said, this year, Taylor Gym has added nine student instructors to its staff. Students can sign up for summer workshops to become certified to instruct fitness classes. She said she feels that this self-selecting process for instructors leads to more engaging and fulfilling classes.
“If the instructor is up there not enjoying what they’re doing, that shows,” Albano said. “I take pride in making sure that we have standards of practice here and that we’re putting people in that space who are truly going to be positive influences on other members of the Lehigh community.”
Recent graduate Eloise Trout, ‘22, was a spin instructor at Taylor Gym for three years. She said leaving her classes at the end of her time at Lehigh was hard because the community of people at every class was special to her.
She said it became a place for her to relieve stress, focus, unplug and sweat for an hour.
“(Being an instructor) taught me that being present in moments and going to a class or doing something out of your comfort zone gives you the opportunity to meet people you may never have had the chance to meet before,” Trout said.
Online registration for fitness classes is available at lehigh.edu/fitness.
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