Students start web petition to restart program amid university hiring freeze
By Molly Hulligan and Ryan Breece, Head Copy Editor and Guest Writer
Group fitness classes at the Health United Building (HUB) were paused indefinitely in a new move made by administration at the beginning of the fall semester.
With this decision, 23 students lost their jobs as group fitness instructors.
Group fitness classes provided a space for students to attend specific fitness programs led by a student instructor who specialized in that exercise. Some classes offered include group cycling, zumba, pilates, yoga and more.
In light of the recent cuts, a petition was started by former group fitness instructor Elizabeth Salazar to bring group fitness classes back to recreational sports.
“We wanted to make sure that our voices and our fellow classmates’ voices were heard,” Salazar said.
So far, the petition has gained over 630 signatures.
“It’s comforting to see that there are a lot of students like me that feel confused or upset that the group fitness classes are no longer available. The next step is to try and talk with SGA (Student Government Association) to see what we can do for the future,” Salazar added.
Group fitness classes have been discontinued due to former Director of Group Fitness at Recreational Sports Mackenzie Mullins leaving the position in the Fall 2021.
However, confusion remains due to a lack of communication as to why the hiring process has been suspended indefinitely.
Hailey Johnson, a former cycle instructor for recreational sports, explained her understanding of why the group fitness program has been paused.
“We got an email saying that our program would be on pause indefinitely, so we weren’t really told that it was stopped per se… I thought we were still going to have classes, but closer to the beginning of this semester, I put two and two together. That’s how we found out,” Johnson said.
Former group fitness instructor Courtney Corrado, who taught a group cycling class at the HUB, expressed frustration about the loss.
“(On) June 21, we got an email saying that the rec center was unsure if they’d be able to resume the fitness program. Then we got an email on July 26 saying our fitness program has been paused,” she added.
Group fitness instructors go through extensive training to become certified to lead classes. Johnson spoke on the training process to earn her position.
“All of us are certified… I studied for about two or three months, then took a standardized exam to get my group fitness certification. To teach in the HUB, you teach a couple classes and then you audition in front of a few other group fitness instructors and (HUB employees),” Johnson said.
Without the income that an on-campus job provides, many instructors are left with financial questions of what to do next.
“I’m fortunate enough that I do have (another) on-campus job, working at admissions as a tour guide. I have been looking for another job. It was so convenient having (another) on-campus job. It fit really well with my schedule, but I’m not really sure what to do,” Johnson added.
Corrado echoed her sentiment, saying, “I have all this experience with cycling and instructing, and I can’t go anywhere (outside of Xavier) to instruct (due to schedule conflicts). So I have all this experience, and I’m instructor certified. People paid a lot of money for those certifications.”
“A lot of kids were promised (raises) if they got the certification (and) if they stayed around for a (second) year instructing,” Corrado continued.
Senior HUB facility manager Zayvion Eusebe shared how the group fitness cuts have affected HUB rec sports as a whole.
“It’s a huge gap that you’re missing, honestly. Although attendance may have been low for a period of time, I think group fitness was a very important part of Rec Sports in its entirety. It’s another avenue for students to meet new people, and just kind of get more incorporated with Rec Sports and the Xavier community as a whole,” Eusebe said. “So for the school to not even try to address why there was low attendance to begin with… and just immediately cut it was kind of disappointing.”
“I think it’s important to note that if students are willing to pay and go off campus and go to a gym, like a cycling studio, and pay money out of their own pocket, then there’s a need for these fitness classes on campus,” Eusebe added.
“We have students who want to be in these programs, and we have students who are willing to teach them. Maybe there was a disconnect in how we get the message to students… But you have (students) paying memberships to gyms off campus when we have a great facility here with a dedicated staff and all the resources they could have at their disposal. So there’s a… demand, so to speak, for this type of stuff, that isn’t being met,” he said.
Senior Matt Shannon, a weekly cycling class participant, reiterated the disappointment and expressed his appreciation for the community-building that the group classes supplied as well as the opportunity for a versatile workout routine.
Shannon still uses the spin bikes at the HUB, but says it is not the same as the group dynamic and class community that he feels group fitness built.
“Seeing the same people, you know them, and it kind of motivates you,” Shannon said.
“Word of mouth is going around through SGA, too, and I think they’ve been really supportive. So at the end of the day, it’s just about whether the university wants to continue this,” Corrado added.