Troy campus gym is a popular fitness arena, but it is not the only place where students can exercise. Among the various kinesiology classes and intramural sports, the step aerobics, a one-hour free elective class, is one lesser-known way for students to get the heart racing and calories burning on campus.
“Step aerobics is a different kind of a workout,” said Rawia Elsisi, the step aerobics instructor. “The benefit of it is that you are actually mixing muscle endurance and cardio while doing the step.”
On the first day of class, students learn the basic steps and master them through the semester to the beat of selected songs.
Akidra Matthews, senior psychology major from Montgomery, said that alternating the songs and doing the steps at the same time is fascinating.
“I love it. It’s great cardio workout and our instructor is hilarious and mad cool,” Matthews said. “She makes us want to come to class, and it just makes it all around better.”
According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 1.7 percent of people who regularly exercise prefer the aerobic-type workout, making it the ninth most practiced form of exercising despite its recent emergence.
The beginning of step aerobics can be traced back to some three decades ago by Gin Miller after her orthopedic doctor recommended her to step up and down to strengthen the muscles supporting her knee. Miller started by stepping on a milk crate, but the exercise has become popular enough today that plastic platforms are manufactured just for this purpose.
Accompanied by music, this simple exercise became a popular recreational workout that requires using more than just the leg muscles.
“The fun thing here also is that we add music and we put steps together, so you are also working your brain,” Elsisi said. “It could be a little confusing if you have never done it before, but once you master the steps, which you will, you will enjoy it a lot.”
Matthews also noticed that paying attention is a must to follow the steps after the instructor.
“Sometimes I get confused, but the second time around I’ll be on it; but then she (Elsisi) will switch (steps), and I’ll be like ‘wait a minute!’ ” Matthews said.
Komal Khawaja, a freshman psychology major from Karachi, Pakistan, expected to be set back due to being new to step aerobics, but she quickly learned that previous knowledge wasn’t required.
“The first class was kind of confusing, and I was nervous, actually, because I thought maybe she’ll ask what we know about step aerobics, and I knew nothing about it,” she said. “All I knew was that we had a platform, we had some steps and we needed to work on that.”
Khawaja said Elsisi made sure that the students have fun in her class.
“She (Elsisi) was very understanding,” she said. “We even went to her and we talked to her about how we don’t know anything about step aerobics. She was just very cooperative and encouraging.”
Khawaja said she feels that step aerobics class made her feel positive and accomplished.
“I feel that I can do it and it makes me feel good. The class is fun, which is why I’m always looking forward for Wednesday and am excited about it.” Khawaja said.
Elsisi said that the students are the best indicators of the success of the class.
“When I see a lot of good reviews from students at the end of the class, it feels like we actually accomplished the goal we set in the beginning of the semester.”
Matthews, in particular, said she felt great after her Wednesday class.
“I feel like I got a great workout. I’m ready to start the day.”