Illustration by Mary Berger | Art Director

Managing Mental Health

August 24, 2021

Campus Recreation holds multiple wellness opportunities for students

By Kayla Bennett | Asst. Culture Editor

W ith the university welcoming students back on campus, many are experiencing their first taste of Athens. The opportunities and pathways may be daunting, but there are different activities depending on anyone’s personal preferences.

OU’s Campus Recreation has been preparing for an eventful fall. Within Campus Recreation, there are multiple sectors, including, but not limited to, fitness, competitive sports and outdoor pursuits.

Tony Gregory, assistant director for University Well-Being and Fitness, said fitness classes will begin to be in-person. Of the approximate 25 classes a week, 75-80% will be a new F45 training program. The remaining percent of classes will be traditional group fitness classes, such as cardio, dance, yoga or cycling.

Those interested in the F45 classes will have to possess a semester or month membership, depending on the level of commitment. However, F45 classes are free as of right now and the first week of classes.

There will also be one-on-one and private training sessions.

“I think, especially for first-year students, when you're coming into a new setting, away from your parents, I think it really helps reinforce creating a strong sense of belonging with the university and establishing Ohio University as a place of comfort,” Gregory said.

Gregory said OU will feel more like home when students get involved with new activities.

Along with fitness, Nathan Ferdinand, assistant director for University Competitive Sports and Community Programming, said involving oneself in sports can be another useful outlet.

In the fall, intramural sports and club sports will begin, operating at a larger capacity than last year. Registration will begin during Party at Ping on Aug. 21 and sports will start mid-September.

Some sports that are open for registration include ultimate frisbee, softball, 4 v. 4 mini soccer and 2 v. 2 sand volleyball. Flag football and 7 v. 7 soccer will be making a return this fall as well. Students can join a three week program competitively or a five week program recreationally.

Additionally, there will be weekend tournaments like badminton, dodgeball and water basketball in the Aquatic Center.

“Having things to help connect you to the community – help keep you active – it really promotes not only a sense of belonging but your overall well-being,” Ferdinand said. “It's also, for a lot of people, a way to stay physically active. We offer a lot of that within our department, to keep people physically engaged, motivated and involved throughout the year.”

Ferdinand said these opportunities are a way to build relationships and form friendships that will last throughout students’ OU experiences.

Caeley Grady, a graduate assistant with Outdoor Pursuits, said Outdoor Pursuits has a full schedule this fall, including many trips and hiking.

There are also backpacking trips coming up in October, specifically to Zaleski State Forest and Grayson Highlands State Park.

The rock climbing wall in Ping will also be open for use starting Aug. 30, Monday through Saturday. The challenge course will also be open for team building and low-rope courses.

“We're trying to create community between campus and other students,” Grady said. “This is my first year as a graduate assistant, but in my undergraduate, I participated in a lot of outdoor pursuits and a lot of outdoor pursuit trips. When I was there, I gained a lot of new friends and met a lot of new people. I was able to network with a lot of new people.”

Grady said no one has to be an expert or even knowledgeable on outdoor pursuits to join on the trips. Outdoor Pursuits encourages all – beginners and experienced – to participate.

Gregory, Ferdinand and Grady all agree these physical activities are not only beneficial to physical health but mental health too.

“We recognize mental health is at the forefront of the conversation, especially as we are in the middle of a pandemic,” Gregory said. “Being able to cope with stress through recreation (is) one of the main reasons that we do the work that we do – to provide students with that outlet. When they are stressed with classes, when they feel like they don't have a place to go or when they feel like they need to meet new people and build those positive relationships, they can participate in our programs and contribute to their well-being and help take care of themselves as well as a student.”

“We recognize mental health is at the forefront of the conversation, especially as we are in the middle of a pandemic. Being able to cope with stress through recreation (is) one of the main reasons that we do the work that we do – to provide students with that outlet."—Tony Gregory, assistant director for University Well-Being and Recreation, Well-Being and Fitness

Grady said she believes the programs are made to boost the mental health of students. Ferdinand also believes the programs are made to separate the students from their academic life and take a moment to de-stress through an active outlet.

Dylan Westmeyer, a sophomore studying journalism, said joining club tennis gave him an opportunity to clear his mind after a stressful week or help him through a difficult time.

“If the student can find something to take their mind off these complications for even an hour a day I feel as though they will feel better and be able to focus more on the difficult portions of college,” Westmeyer said in a message.

AUTHOR: Kayla Bennett
EDITOR: Riley Runnells
COPY EDITOR: Isabel Nissley