Thursday, November 3rd, 2011...9:43 am

It’s All About Balance

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By Emily Bainwol

Remember to have fun.” These were the words that were repeated to me throughout my high school years. Now they comprise the message I want to pass onto others during my time here at William and Mary. Being among such driven, hard-working and intelligent students, it is sometimes hard to incorporate these words into my life in such an academically competitive environment.  Since I can remember, I’ve struggled with the very notion of achieving the idealistic “balanced life.” In all the stress of college life, it seems all too easy for students like me to put this pursuit of balance on hold in order to spend some quality time with our dear friend, Earl Greg Swem. We students look to Earl to reach our academic goals, so that we can eventually cross the finish line of the “marathon” known as college. Yet, in my time here, I’ve come to realize that Earl cannot offer us everything. I’ve learned that we students need something more. I believe I’ve found that something, and the happiness I’ve discovered has led me to the decision to help other students do the same.

 “Remember to have fun,” my mom always said. But how? How is it possible to remember to have fun in spite of all the academic and social pressures of college life? After nineteen years, I think that I have finally found my answer.  This answer doesn’t lie within the books of Biology or Physics, or within the walls of Earl Greg Swem. On the contrary I’ve found it within the walls of the William and Mary Rec Center.  Through this newfound interest, I have created personal goals that don’t involve polishing my transcript – fitness goals. Last spring, I made a conscious effort to help other students gain a little balance in the rigorous college life by auditioning to teach group fitness classes at the Rec.

To my joy, I have found that a number of students regularly make the effort to schedule a break from Earl in order to attend my classes and many of the other amazing fitness classes offered at the Rec. I strive to lead by example by showing my participants that in the midst of all the stress, I can still find the time to take a mental break. This is what the other group fitness instructors did for me last year. Each and every one of them led fun classes in which they exhibited a contagious positive energy, which really helped me to understand that it is possible to have some fun while participating in this “college marathon.” More importantly, it brought me to the realization that college is in fact not so much a marathon, but a journey to be taken slowly and appreciated. Having the opportunity to work in a place that I love, teaching classes that I love, has helped me to do just that.

The staff I work with is truly amazing, and although I now work with the instructors whose classes I used to attend ritually, they still help me in the same way because they carry their positive energy with them everywhere. I’d like to think this job has made me a better person because this positive energy has rubbed off on me. Hopefully it will rub off onto those who attend my classes (and anyone else I come across) and help them to realize something that I’ve found to be critical to my mental sanity; Earl cannot offer us everything that’s needed for the “balanced life.” My hope is that other students will also be able find relief from academic pressures in any of the Rec fitness classes that interest them the most – whether they are intense cardio kickboxing classes or some peaceful mind and body relaxation. As long they help the students to “remember to have fun.”

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