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More students attending free group fitness classes: Ryerson University Athletics

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By Tim Falco

Starting this semester the cost of group fitness classes stopped being a valid excuse to avoid leg day at Ryerson University—and recent class turnouts are proof, according to athletics.

Ryerson Athletics removed fees for fitness classes—including strength and weight training, yoga, spinning and zumba—at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) and Recreation and Athletics Centre (RAC).

Until this year, students had to pay a $45 membership fee each semester to partake in an unlimited number of classes. Instead of making students pay for those classes out of their own pockets, Ryerson’s athletics and recreation budget is now footing the bill.

There have been “stark” turnout improvements ever since they made the change, said Katie Wilson, Ryerson’s instructional program assistant.

“The sizes have been incredible. Our goal was to have a problem of too many people instead of not enough,” she said, adding that many classes have had to be moved from smaller rooms in the RAC to the facility’s bigger gyms due to the number of students showing up.

There are currently more than 25 classes that run every week at the RAC and MAC. Classes in the studios average 20 participants, while classes in the gyms average 30, according to instructional programs coordinator Evangelia Taylor.

Taylor said athletics staff also noticed many new faces during reading week, a time typically known for being filled with regulars.

Ryerson Athletics decided to strip the fees to make athletics more accessible to everyone, said university recreation manager Andrew Pettit.

A $45 fee per semester is an extra barrier that might stop people from becoming active, Pettit said.

“We need to fulfill our role in delivering wellness on campus, and if we can provide more opportunities by removing financial barriers, then that’s where we have to go,” he said.

Pettit said the decision was also influenced by Ryerson’s intramural program being free.

Male students make up the majority of intramural teams—about 80 per cent—while group fitness classes are favoured by women and gender. 

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