First Words

First Words

By Georgette Weir

“Waiting for Godot? Forget him! He’s not coming! Get off your couch and get down to the new Fitness Center and get a workout or take some great classes!”

The words stretch across Professor of Physical Education Roman Czula’s campus newsletter In the Pink and comprise a typical Czula exhortation. Czula is director of Vassar’s Lifetime Fitness Program, and he makes every effort to get Vassar people off their duffs.

He dispenses free hand-weights to Vassar students, faculty, administrators, and staff. He visits offices and demonstrates 10-minute workouts. He gives away free copies of a computer “Stretchware” program. He schedules classes, either free or very low fee, in aerobics, yoga, aqua aerobics, Ping-Pong, noncontact boxing—a total of 49 courses this fall semester—anything to get Vassar people moving. 

And it seems more people at Vassar are moving, both to enjoy competition and to maintain or improve good health. Here are some facts from the office of athletics: 

During the 1999–2000 academic year, 39 percent of the Vassar student body participated in intramural sports; in 1995-–96, the figure was 17 percent. 

The class of ’04 has 188 varsity student athletes; the class of ’97 included 68. Registration for the lifetime fitness classes averages 400 to 500 each year. “Our goal,” Czula writes, “is to make exercise an easier option for everyone and to eliminate some of the reasons (excuses) to avoid getting into a regular exercise program.” That new fitness center he mentions above, in the brand new athletic center (see page 4), may make his job easier.

But Lifetime Fitness isn’t just about sports and recreation; Czula schedules programs on AIDS education, breast cancer awareness, skin cancer awareness (“Practice Safe Sun!” he cheers, while offering Vassar folk free sunscreen—SPF 30), free blood pressure screenings, etc.

In short, there may be more healthy and physical activity happening on the Vassar campus since students were required to pace the halls of Main in 1865 (or exercise outside), or, if the above illustration from the Vassar College Library Special Collections is any indication, worked out with pre-Czula weights to the accompaniment of piano and triangle.

Georgette Weir has edited the Vassar alumnae/i magazine for 12 years. A ew editor is to be named early in 2001.