Picture the following scenario: You rush to work by 8 a.m., navigating heavy traffic along the way, spend the next 7-8 hours on your feet or working away at your desk, with hardly a break in between, and before you know it, the clock is ticking toward 5 p.m. You’re mentally and physically exhausted, but you still need to pick up the kids, run errands and make dinner. Despite all of those tasks, you’re determined to fit a workout in, but who has the time?
For many Fresno State employees, hitting the gym after a long day of work seems tiring and impossible, but the benefits of doing so far outweigh the fatigue. In fact, you can get an effective workout in just 30-45 minutes right before heading home.
That is what Dr. Mark Baldis and his Exercise Science students are trying to promote in their Midweek Motion Class, held every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m., hosted by the Office of Organizational Excellence at Fresno State.
“The goal is to get people to be more physically active while at work,” said Baldis, who is a lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology. “We know once you go home, your chances of exercise dramatically drop, so if you exercise before going home then chances are you’re going to be more physically active.”
On the second floor of the Student Recreation Center on campus, a group of Fresno State employees have gathered to take part in the class focusing on exercises for core and back pain, just one of the eight courses that have been offered since February 8th. Some participants have been coming consistently since the first week, while others are new.
Both new and returning participants are greeted enthusiastically each session by Baldis and his group of students. This particular session, from March 8th, begins with Baldis at the front of the class debunking some popular exercise myths.
“You don’t need to be thin to be fit…” he begins. He follows this up with examples and charts, similar to an interactive classroom lecture. Baldis has been teaching in the area of exercise science for the past 17 years and said this is the first time a fitness program like this, incorporating the Kinesiology department, has been implemented on campus.
For the past couple of years, Baldis and his students had partnered with Dr. Lisa Herzig, associate professor of Dietetics, on the HealthyU nutrition program, also for Fresno State employees. Since her course was not available this semester, Baldis thought it would be a good idea to start his own eight-week course for those on campus interested in being more physically active.
Melissa Tav, communication specialist for the College of Health and Human Services, has been to two sessions so far and has found the experience beneficial.
“Finding time to work out after a long day at work is difficult, but coming to this class and being around such motivated individuals and instructors actually makes exercise exciting and fun,” Tav said. “The courses provide both a lecture and activity portion, so not only are we learning, but we are learning by doing, which is very helpful when it comes to exercise movement.”
After Baldis gives his brief dialogue, he splits the group into smaller groups of four to do a variety of core exercises, led by his students.
First year graduate student, Natasha Ismail, leads her group into exercises, like lunges, bridges, the superman and squats. She has been assisting Baldis for the past five years on a variety of fitness courses, but this is the first one she got to actually help develop.
“In order to design the eight weeks of courses, we took a look at the fundamental principles of exercise and the main components, including cardio respiratory, strength training, flexibility and balance,” Ismail explained. “Then we put together exercises for each component to form each weekly course.”
For Ismail, who hopes to one day open up her own gym, this experience is fundamental, as it puts into practice what she is learning in the classroom and allows her to expose others to her passion.
“Through this course, I really hope faculty and staff just learn the basics of exercise,” Ismail said. “They can learn to change their lifestyle a little bit and become healthier even if they’re at work.”
On the other side of the room, senior Anastasia Mendrin, leads her group into a series of exercises including planks and sit ups. She has been heavily involved on the campus wellness scene, where she teaches noontime circuit training and pilates courses, as part of her role as student assistant with the Department of Organizational Excellence.
Mendrin said offering wellness courses like Midweek Motion offers many benefits for employees.
“We have seen in research studies that their absenteeism goes down, that their progress goes up, they want to come to work and overall, they feel better and more motivated throughout the day,” Mendrin said. “We really think that’s a great thing to bring to work because it encourages their other employees and coworkers here on campus to do the same, so it just becomes an overall healthy university.”
Each class session is just 45 minutes long, which is just the right amount of time to make an impact on your overall health, according to Baldis.
“You don’t need to spend hours in the gym,” he said. “The idea is that you can leave work at 5, come here and get a good workout in and then head home. We want to show people that you can get a good workout, that’s good for your health, in just 45 minutes.”
For Tav, the brief workout works well with her schedule and allows more time to get things done in the evening.
“This is a fantastic course, especially for those new to exercise or just interested in learning about fitness, without the hassle of going to the gym,” Tav said. “I would definitely recommend it to others on campus, as it is a quick and efficient way to get a workout in at the end of the day. It also gives me a much-needed burst of energy!”
Mendrin said the feedback on the course, thus far, has been positive and is hopeful the course will return in the fall semester.
For those interested in the course, there are three more sessions available, including “Relaxation: Importance & Guidelines for Good Sleep” (March 15), “Functional Movement Screen” (March 22) and “Aerobic Exercise Guidelines” (March 29). All sessions are open and free to Fresno State employees. Learn more about the upcoming sessions and how to register at the LINK.
For information on the Midweek Motion course and Exercise Science program, contact Dr. Mark Baldis at firstname.lastname@example.org