By Gracie Riley
Imagine a stereotypical college student. What often comes to mind is a groggy, sleep-deprived and overworked person who would do anything for either a coffee or a three-hour nap. Scratch that — even a 20-minute nap.
But among the dazed and sleepy pack of students are the early birds. Not only are these Terps willing to wake up before the sun rises, they actually enjoy it.
Where are some of these early morning risers flocking to? To them, the answer is simple: BodyPump, an intense hour-long fitness class that strengthens all the main muscle groups through various and specific fitness exercises.
Stacia Odenwald understands its appeal. The senior English and French major was introduced to the BodyPump craze in high school. Since then, she has been hooked.
Now, as a first-semester BodyPump instructor at the University of Maryland’s Eppley Recreation Center, she wants others to join in on the early morning fun.
But it has been difficult for Odenwald to get people up and out of bed for fitness. Odenwald’s biggest challenge is the part that every student struggles with: waking up early.
“Waking up early to work out is one thing, but waking up to teach the class is a completely different challenge,” Odenwald explained.
“Because I was one of the last instructors to get certified and it fit into my schedule, I got thrown into teaching in the morning,” she added. “Originally I was not a morning person, but luckily I have grown to love it.”
And there’s a good reason for why Odenwald does not complain about waking up before 7 a.m. and trekking from her Knox Road apartment to the North Campus gym. To her, it’s great to cross “working out” off her list by the time a good portion of college students are either sleeping or starting to wake up.
But there is a method to the morning madness.
According to Brianne Rowh, the assistant director of fitness at the Recreation & Wellness Center, “working out in the morning helps to boost energy, mental acuity and focus throughout the day.”
“Studies show that mental acuity is heightened 4-10 hours post-workout,” Rowh added.
Perhaps that is why so many early morning participants are consistent returners.
Morning BodyPump instructor Jacklyn Gentile revealed that, of the 25 students who attend a class on one particular day, she typically recognizes more than half of them from previous classes throughout the semester.
One of those veteran BodyPump enthusiasts who ventures across campus every Tuesday and Thursday is senior communication major Mary Wright.
Although she continuously finds the will power to get to the gym, Wright admits that it is not easy for her either.
“It is so hard to find the motivation so early,” Wright said. “Every morning I contemplate sleeping in, but I thank my four alarms for not letting me.”
There is clearly a reason why people love BodyPump, even in the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps it is time for college students to break the cycle and try something new.
What’s the worst that could happen?