Simpson Fitness inspires students to stay active


Taylor Hoffman

Student instructor Kelli Hanson leads Simpson students through a yoga class on Sunday, Nov. 8.

by Taylor Hoffman, Staff Reporter

With rigid COVID-19 restrictions, the fall semester has left many Simpson students feeling isolated and unmotivated, leading to The Simpson Fitness program having lower turnouts in their classes and a more difficult time spreading awareness to new students.

Simpson Fitness is a program that is funded by Intramurals. It offers free exercise classes to Simpson students, faculty and staff every week. They offer a variety of exercise classes that are led by student instructors. The classes include yoga, booty bands, H.I.I.T (high-intensity interval training), Bosu, and a cardio core class. 

 Simpson Fitness will be allowed to continue hosting classes while following safety procedures in Orange Phase.

Nicole Darling is the assistant director of activities/intramurals, and the supervisor for the fitness program has had to figure out how to increase student engagement with the program.

“Attendance has been low. I don’t know if it’s COVID related or if it’s because students are so overscheduled,” Darling said. “The biggest challenge right now is finding times that accommodate both the instructors and the participants.”

The student instructors have also noticed a dip in their class attendance this semester. Kelli Hanson, a senior and health and exercise science major, teaches yoga classes on Sundays. She began instructing classes last spring.

“Last year, attendance was definitely starting to pick up right before COVID-19. This year, it’s been kind of low. We’re hoping to get the word out and keep doing classes next semester,” Hanson said.

Quentin Linnan, a junior Health & Exercise Science major, teaches a H.I.I.T class and a Bosu class through Simpson Fitness.

“Overall, attendance has mainly been athletes or a few of my friends who I convinced to come and try it out,” Linnan said. “So far, a lot of it has come down to who you know as an instructor and how you reach out to those people to keep them encouraged. I have to individually ask people to come to the class and tell them a little bit about it, so they can see what it actually is and if it’s worth their time.”

Darling and the instructors are also working hard to increase awareness of and engagement with the program. 

“Right now, we actually have weekly drawings for people who come to the classes. They can fill out a raffle slip when they come to a class and get their name drawn for weekly prizes. The prizes include Simpson Fitness gear and a $25 Amazon wish list gift card,” Darling said.

Darling also explained that they are going to try to start speaking to SC-101 classes, so first-year students can learn more about the program and its offerings. Simpson Fitness also tables in Kent occasionally and has schedules posted around campus and in residence halls.

Linnan believes that a big part of increasing engagement is forging personal connections with participants. He thinks that tabling in Kent can be effective but wants to see it be more interactive.

“I want to do demonstrations on campus of exercises and get people to stop and participate. I want with all of the instructors, bring out equipment and just have students try it out with us. It’s kind of difficult with COVID-19 going on right now, though,” Linnan said.

The Simpson Fitness program also sent out a survey about preferred class times in order to find the best times to host classes and increase attendance. Students interested in Simpson Fitness can find the survey here:

“The classes are definitely for anyone and everyone, even professors,” Hanson said. “We do try to incorporate different modifications and different levels so anyone from beginner to advanced can enjoy them.”

“This is free for all of the people who want to participate. We wanted to make this as open as possible for anyone who wants to join,” Darling added.

Darling also emphasized the benefits of Simpson Fitness to students and faculty.

“When you’re coming to college, you have the freedom to make choices about your lifestyle. You have the freedom to eat what you want, sleep when you want, and consume what you want, so this is a crucial time in a student’s life in regards to making those decisions,” Darling said.

She also discussed how fitness classes are especially beneficial to students during the quarantine.

“I think it is definitely harder for students to be on campus this year with COVID-19 and not being able to see their friends as much,” Darling said. “Fitness classes are a great way to meet people. It’s another avenue to get out and try something new.”

Both Linnan and Hanson also stressed that this is one of the few times students will have the opportunity to participate in free exercise and fitness classes.

With break nearing, the fitness classes are winding down for the semester. However, Simpson Fitness will also be hosting virtual fitness classes over the break. 

“We will still be doing some virtual classes during winter break, and those will be offered through our Facebook page,” Darling said. “We’ll probably be doing two classes a week, and we’ll also be doing some raffle prizes for the people who watch and comment.” 

Darling said they would be releasing more information about the winter break schedule in the future. In the meantime, any students interested in either instructing or attending fitness classes are welcome to be a part of Simpson Fitness.

Students interested in instruction can contact Nicole Darling at her email, [email protected].