Cary Street Gym increases group exercise classes

Originally published March 25, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times

The Cary Street Gym has been open since Fall of 2010 and has been ranked as one of the top facilities in the country.

VCU student Rachel Heeschen regularly attends Zumba classes at the Cary Street Gym, but arrives 30 minutes prior to the beginning of class.

Heeschen said Zumba is her favorite class to attend, but in the past she has been too late to get a spot in the group exercise class.

Between the MCV Campus Recreation and Aquatic Center and the Cary Street Gym, nearly 17,000 people attended group exercise classes last semester, and more than 8,600 people have gone to group classes this semester.

Spinning classes are one of the more popular group classes at the Cary Street Gym. According to associate director for programs Karen Carden, about 31,000 attendants have participated in group classes since Aug. 24, 2011. Photo by Amber-Lynn Taber.Group exercise classes are one of the top activities for gym goers and, due to their striking popularity, can sometimes be difficult to get into.

Zumba, yoga and spinning classes all regularly have full classes and often turn away students who wish to participate.

Gym goers who wish to be in a class must obtain a wristband ticket at the entry kiosk of the gym in order to reserve a spot in the often-limited classes.

For example, there are only 23 bikes available in most spinning classes, so the class must be capped at 23 participants.

Since its opening two years ago, the Cary Street Gym has been making improvements to the group exercise class schedule, including doubling the number of classes and instructors.

Due to the high demand of group classes, the gym is currently trying to add even more to the schedule and increase the number of instructors.

The gym tries to keep at least 70 classes on its weekly schedule in order to accommodate students’ schedules.

On average, there are 22 group exercise classes offered daily Monday through Friday, which is less than last semester’s average.

Last school year there were more classes and instructors on the schedule, said fitness programs assistant Jacob Kain.

Many instructors have left the gym, either because they have graduated or moved on to other jobs, so there are still many spots to fill.

Kain said the problem is having enough instructors and filling the times when the gym knows more people are going to visit.

“(If) we need a time for a certain class then we’re going to fill it; we need a common class that people can get used to,” he said. “We love having a lot of patrons come to our classes, but it’s about picking the right time for (them).”

Spinning instructor Devin Shunk said he believes that the problem isn’t with the scheduling of the group exercise classes, but with the amount of people that can attend them.

“Space matters when you go to school with 32,000 plus other people,” he said.

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