Working out on the elliptical trainer the other day, I looked around at the others in Bryn Mawr's fitness center: students on cardio equipment tethered to walkmans or with note cards in front of them, faculty on stair steppers having a conversation, and staff striding along on the treadmills. Downstairs in the gym, emeriti faculty and students played a keen game of badminton. This cross-generational and departmental use of facilities, which acknowledges the physical body-and is fun, helps validate the importance of regular exercise and a balanced lifestyle for everyone in the campus community.
Athletics, physical education, and recreation programs are central to a rigorous liberal arts experience. Bryn Mawr undergraduates must function in a multi-disciplined, multi-faceted, and multi-tasking world. Through regular exercise and participation in varsity sports, they can develop habits that increase their self-confidence and mental functioning, relieve stress, and afford them connections with others that are selfless and rewarding.
Our department also offers to the broader community programs emphasizing the benefits of wellness and fitness for a whole life.
Women Living Well (WLW) sponsors forums and educational events that encourage women to take knowledgeable stewardship of their health and well-being. The program includes a spring series of weekly noon-time seminars on health-care topics of specific interest to women that are open to the public. Co-sponsored with the Alumnae Association and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, this spring's series included programs on conflict resolution and healthcare advocacy. The WLW Resource Center, located in the Fitness Center, has a print library and its keystone will be a webpage linking users to numerous resources and information.
During the summer, in conjunction with the Alumnae Association, it is our pleasure to sponsor hikes and walks that complement picnics and gatherings of alumnae around the country. This has been a wonderful way to encourage casual conversation while providing the benefits of exercise and being outdoors. The Owls on Wheels program organizes biking tours; last October, faculty, staff and alumnae/i rode the Schuylkill River Bicycle Trail to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to tour its Impressionist Galleries with Professor Steven Z. Levine. During the academic year, the Owls Outdoors program sponsors hikes, kayaking, and other outdoor activities for the campus community and local alumnae/i.
Eight credits of physical education plus passing the swimming-proficiency test are required for graduation from Bryn Mawr. (Alumnae still speak with pride of the swim test.) The more than 70 physical education courses we offer include various sports, dance, fitness exercise, safety certification, and health and wellness classes; one incorporates a community service project in a local elementary school. Some undergraduates appear with wonderfully crafted arguments that packing rocks for a geology work study job, or the walk from Brecon to anywhere on campus, or making snowmen when it snows should qualify for an independent study project! We are quite good humored about these proposals, which give us a chance to have conversations about one's well-being.
Popular films and documentaries that portray women in sport are shown in Women, Sport and Film, an interdisciplinary, cross-institutional course that engages students in discussions about race, gender and class. Taught in concert with an Exercise and Sports Science course at Smith and a PE course at Wesleyan, it enlists the expertise of Nicole Smith, head lacrosse and assistant field hockey coach; Anne Dalke, senior lecturer in English and coordinator of the feminist and gender studies program; David Karen, associate professor of sociology; and Paul Grobstein, Eleanor A. Bliss Professor of Biology and director of the Center for Science in Society. The classes watch the same films and use the same discussion topics; students are placed at random in e-forums on a shared website.
Bryn Mawr sponsors 12 intercollegiate sports teams that compete in the NCAA Division III as a part of the Centennial Conference: badminton, basketball, crew, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball. In 2002-3, 259 students, including those in our rugby club, participate in a varsity sport. We have long been recognized nationally in badminton, with five All-Americans in the last seven years and National Championship victories in 1995 and 1996. The team is undefeated over the last two years of collegiate
Jaws in the pool and jingle bell runs|
"I'm struck by the element of fun Amy Campbell and her staff have infused into all of the programs and the creativity evident in the abundance of offerings," says Wendy Greenfield, Executive Director of the Alumnae Association, who works with Campbell on wellness programs and outdoor activities for alumnae/i.
"One of Amy's first contributions to enhancing student life was a 'Jaws' event-the film was screened as students watched from inner tubes in the pool," Greenfield says. "As a winter's night 'stressbuster' during exam period, students met in the Campus Center and laced jingle bells on their sneakers. The cross-country team led the group on a run around campus, and all met afterwards back at the Campus Center for cookies and hot cocoa.
"This winter, I also watched head crew coach Carol Bower, an Olympic gold medalist, instruct novice rowers as they practiced in a barge at the deep end of the pool. The barge allowed them to get used to the relationship of the blade to the body and to the water-without getting icicles on their oars!"
Our scholar-athletes are keenly aware of the benefits of team and individual sport competition. Through the everyday classroom of sports, students practice the mental and physical skills required of their career choices. Working toward a common set of goals creates opportunities for leadership roles, whether designated or assumed. Students learn to rise gracefully and purposefully from defeat or victory, and how to assess and pursue what initially seemed almost out of the question.
We face two challenges:
Twenty years ago, Bern Schwartz gymnasium adequately met the needs of scholar-athletes, but our sister institutions and even most secondary schools are steps ahead of us with state-of-the-art facilities. We must meet the increased expectations of prospective students and support the requirements of a Division III varsity athletic program.
We need to continue to provide programming supported by qualified staff that emphasizes the benefits of physical well-being for the life of the mind.
Our needs have not deterred us from developing an athletics, physical education and recreation model that complements Bryn Mawr's academic mission. Our extraordinary staff are passionate about their sports, their teaching responsibilities, and membership in the College community.
The Challenging Women campaign seeks to support students' increased interest in athletics and recreational sports, and to promote fitness among all members of the community. New funding will allow us to hire coaches and teachers who understand the role of sports and fitness at a rigorous undergraduate college and to provide equipment and programming to meet student demand. An addition to Bern Schwartz Gymnasium, anticipated in a later stage of the campaign, will secure the future of a strong athletics and physical education department that fosters the important link between mind and body.
For more information, please contact Amy Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On October 5, 2002 Bryn Mawr launched "Challenging Women: Investing in the Future of Bryn Mawr," a $225 million comprehensive fundraising campaign that will run until May 2007. Money raised in the campaign will be used to:
Support faculty, including new faculty positions in interdisciplinary fields;
Sustain new academic programs;
Increase funds for student aid;
Renovate a number of historic campus buildings;
Enhance programs and facilities in athletics, fitness, the arts, and community service;
Create new opportunities to link liberal arts education to the world outside the campus; and
Enrich technological resources for teaching and research.
For more information on investing in the future of Bryn Mawr, visit the College's campaign website.
Schwartz Gymnasium too popular!|
BY ROBIN REINEKE '04
For many women, the mere word "gym" provokes a groan. "Gym class" is even worse, prompting memories of embarrassing fumbles in a tank top and sneakers. A gym is not typically thought of as having value beyond providing a space for exercise. But Bryn Mawr's Schwartz Gymnasium has grown into a place with quite a sense of community. And it's not just Bryn Mawr students using the facilities-faculty, staff, alumnae/i; members of the Haverford campus community; and Bryn Mawr residents make use of the gym regularly.
The Bern Schwartz Gymnasium houses the Petts Dance Studio/Fitness Center, an eight-lane Olympic-sized pool, and two all-purpose basketball/badminton/volleyball courts, all of which were designed with women in mind. Even the stairs leading to the gym from up-campus are designed to fit a woman's gait.
Though the fitness center is co-ed, most of the users are women. "I feel very safe in our gym," said Ali Briggs '04, relaxing on a couch after a strenuous workout. "With the all-female environment, I don't feel like I have to compete with men who can bench-press at 250 pounds." Emmy Davison, a sophomore at Haverford, has enjoyed utilizing the indoor pool (Haverford doesn't have one) and the fitness center since her freshman year. "The ambience is great," she said with enthusiasm. "It's spacious and well-lit. Plus, I think having all women can make you less self-conscious."
Many Haverford women use the Bryn Mawr fitness center. Briggs thinks this is a good thing. "It makes me happy whenever I see Haverford women using the gym," she said with a grin. "I think it's great whenever they are over here, at this half of the bi-co." Director of Athletics and Physical Education Amy Campbell agrees. "The fitness center is open to the entire bi-co community," she said in her cabin-like office near the fitness center. "Recreation is one area where you can bring together a lot of different people."
There are many programs that are appreciated by non-students, such as the master's swim class, offered by Judy Wolfe. "The master's swim class is a really great environment to get some exercise," said Joel Lowenstein, a Bryn Mawr resident, "and it's open to community members as well as students." Several years ago, Bill Crawford, professor emeritus of geology, started a faculty badminton club. Today the club is alive and thriving, with students as well as staff participating. (See www.brynmawr.edu/emeritus/about.html.)
The only drawback to the gym as of now is that there is not enough of it! Signing up for gym classes at Bryn Mawr can be as competitive and nerve-wracking as signing up for academic classes. As many as 60 people have attempted to register for 15-person classes. So why not offer more? As Amy Campbell explained, the popular classes (such as Pilates, yoga, or African drumming) are taught by outside experts. "It's really a matter of budgeting," she explained. The fitness center itself attracts crowds of visitors during peak hours, before classes and at noontime. After 5 p.m., it is always filled to capacity, often leaving some people unable to work out. "It would be nice if there were more treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals," said Neta Borshansky '03. "But in general it is nice to see the gym being used by more and more people."
This 2/17/03 article is reprinted by permission of the Bi-Co News. Robin Reineke is an anthropology major and creative writing minor from Seattle, WA.
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