A Centered Space 

Yoga at the new group exercise studio in the Physical Education Building. (Photos by Mark Schmidt)  

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 5, 2017) – Those who take yoga classes on campus will have a little more Namaste now.

Last Thursday, the University cut the ribbon on a new group exercise studio in the basement of the Physical Education Building (PE), and promptly held the first yoga class in the new space.

“I am super excited about it,” said Hannah Huse, a professional staff member in Information Technology Services who takes the 12:15 p.m. class. “It has good lighting and mirrors. It is tailor made for what we need. It is awesome to have yoga classes during the day.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Christakis said the space, which was a section of the general women’s locker room, is yet another step forward in improving the student experience.

“Students’ health and physical exercise are central to our students' success,” Christakis said.

Student Association President Jerlisa Fontaine helped cut the ribbon. “I am a human biology major,” she said. “Health is one of my biggest priorities and I want to applaud the University for providing students with greater accessibility to wellness options.”

Director for Campus Recreation Sammy Axley said, “the new Group Exercise Studio is a great example of the University’s commitment to our students’ well-being. Facilities Management was wonderful to work with and created a truly welcoming space for group exercise classes.”

Lilian Chang, a sophomore Biology major from Westchester, carried her mat and yoga block into the new 1,800-square-foot facility as the class began.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s big and spacious.”

Huse added that the new room's proximity to the women's locker rooms makes it more convenient to change for class. 

The new space allows Campus Recreation to offer additional classes and a wider variety of class types. In addition to yoga, barre classes, and some cardio, dance and Pilates classes will be held in the new space.

These group classes were formerly held in the PE’s Dance Studio. The space was shared with Athletics, including football, as well as the Cheer/Dance Team. As the group exercise program grows, sharing the space limits the amount of time available for group exercise classes.


From left, Dave Ono, project manager for the Office of Campus Planning; VP for Student Affairs Mike Christakis; SA President Jerlisa Fontaine; Jay Baumstein, construction manager for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Management; and Director for Campus Recreation Sammy Axley.    

Axley credited Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness Jessica Blasioli with the growth of group exercise classes on campus. Before Blasioli joined the University, there were six or eight classes with 10 instructors, all from the YMCA. This fall there are 43 classes — the largest number to date — and there are 30 instructors, most of whom are students.

The number of total visits grew from 2,500 prior to her arrival to 10,000 in 2016-2017. This means there are now 1,100 people a year working out in group exercise classes.

Use is fairly evenly divided among students. Last spring, 20 percent were freshmen, 26 percent were sophomores, 26 percent were juniors and 25 percent were seniors. Three percent were grad students.

“I am just excited for the year to start,” Blasioli said. The switch to student instructors allows students to see other students in leadership roles and helps in the personal development of the instructors.

To find out more about how to become a student instructor, email Blasioli at fitness@albany.edu. More information regarding group exercise classes is available.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.