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USG sponsors free classes for students at Dillon Gymnasium

“The USG provides a wide range range of opportunities for the students ... Lawnparties, Garden Theatre nights ... something as simple as fitness should also definitely be supported,” Undergraduate Life Committee chair Michael Weinberg ’11, who organized the program, said of the reason behind the initiative. “Such programs give a lot of students something to do on a regular basis, which I think is good for the student body.”

Susan Crane, an athletics coordinator who teaches the 5:30 p.m. spinning class, explained in an e-mail that turnout nearly doubled the facility’s capacity during Monday’s class. Each of the 13 bikes was occupied, 10 with undergraduates, Crane said, “and I turned away at least another 10 to 12.”

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“Ordinarily we would get between four and eight on average for one of the 5:30 classes, so the USG’s initiative has given the program a great boost!” she added.

The cost of existing classes was also a factor in launching the program. “We realized that Dillon has group fitness programs that are popular during the first week of school but less so when students have to pay,” Yaroshefsky explained in an e-mail. “It’s not that they are expensive programs but that it’s just a lot simpler when everything is free.”

Campus Recreation offers free trial classes for a few weeks at the start of each semester, but after the trial period students must purchase a minimum of 12 classes for $60. Classes for the entire year cost $300 to $340.

“While Campus Recreation strives to keep all of its offerings affordable, we cannot completely avoid charging fees for some things,” Brian Monsen, business manager for Campus Recreation, said in an e-mail. “Therefore, regardless of the specific fees, there will always be participants who are ‘priced out’ at any given level.”

The free classes are funded completely by the USG. Though it initially considered sponsoring one week of free classes, the USG found that it had the funds to offer free classes for the entire semester, Yaroshefsky said, noting that the price was “about as much as two large study breaks.”

“We expect to see a very strong turnout, especially since this is not just a one-time event but a regular weekly schedule,” he added.

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Of the program’s timing, Weinberg explained that he learned from a Dillon Gymnasium instructor that attendance at classes often drops after fall break. “We felt that this would be a good time to start these free classes, as it would help those who started classes before break stay on schedule and also provide an opportunity for new students to start out,” he said.  

Students said they welcomed the new initiative.  

“The classes offered in Dillon were good,” Emma Kurz ’14 said. “A few of my friends pursued them despite the pricing, which is a bit steep. Offering free classes is definitely going to attract a lot more students.”

Maude Navarre ’14 said she has been taking spinning classes since the beginning of the year because “even though these classes aren’t as rigorous as professional ones, they are well instructed and a great value for the price.” Navarre is also a copy editor for The Daily Princetonian.

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Yaroshefsky and Weinberg said the USG would evaluate the success of the classes before considering a permanent arrangement.

“If we can show by the end of this batch of classes that the fact that they were free attracted a lot more students, then we could perhaps talk about a more permanent funding for such classes,” Weinberg said.

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