Former high school track & field runner Maria Papacostas thinks too many people view exercise as a chore.
The sophomore economics major, who has been running since a young age, wants to change that. So she’s starting her own club – the Temple Health and Fitness Club.
“I want to help people learn that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to feel like a chore,” Papacostas said.
The club, approved in Fall 2014, officially became active during the first week of the spring semester.
The group’s first meeting was about “getting to know how we workout,” Papacostas said.
“It’s about getting to know each other and finding friends who you can take to the gym with you,” she added.
The Temple Health and Fitness Club is growing, Papacostas said, and currently has about 30 active members.
“[The first members] were beginners, which is great,” Papacostas said. “We love to welcome all levels.”
Many of the members are former athletes, like Papacostas herself. She said she started the club because she found that she and many others are looking for a “team aspect” that people find through playing sports.
“Being motivated doesn’t always come naturally – it certainly didn’t to me,” said Kasey Brown, a freshman legal studies major who ran cross country throughout high school. “But when I have others to encourage and inspire me, I remember how important fitness is.”
Brown is the vice president of the club.
“In [a running] context I became an ‘expert,’ but as far as other forms of exercise, I definitely have a lot to learn,” Brown said.
Papacostas and Brown discussed ideas for the club when they used to work out together. Brown said she “was all for it.”
“We create a supportive environment to recharge our fitness goals, and it becomes enjoyable,” Papacostas said.
Papacostas said the club is important in creating a support system.
“A huge part of staying fit is surrounding yourself with people with similar goals,” she said. “People can inspire each other so much.”
Evan Battallio, a senior kinesiology major with a focus in exercise science, is an active member of the club.
“I’ve participated in varsity track & field since high school all the way up until they cut the men’s program here at Temple,” Battallio said. “Being able to come together with a group once a week and discuss matters on the importance of nutrition and how it plays a key role in the quality of one’s life will reinforce my healthy choices.”
Battallio believes it’s also important to raise awareness around campus about smarter food choices, due to what he believes is a poor lack of “decent quality food” on Main Campus.
The club will have an on-hand nutritionist, Papacostas said. She will also promote fitness and health within the club through group activities, workouts and dinner socials at health-conscious restaurants.
On top of staying healthy, Brown said exercising is also an important way for her to clear her head and improve her self-confidence.
“I used to think that feeling came from the trophy or the medal, but the truth is that feeling came from trying my best and encouraging others to do the same,” Brown said.
For Battallio, the club is allowing him to expand on his love for sports and performance in an effort to get a degree in exercise science.
“Who wants an overweight, unhealthy individual lecturing them about the importance of health?” Battallio said.
Papacostas said she runs almost everyday, no matter the weather.
“Taking care of myself makes me feel better about everything I do,” Papacostas said. “It’s not like a chore – it’s like, “When am I running [next]?”
Jane Babian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org