The newly renovated Reynolds Gymnasium opened its doors to Wake Forest students, faculty and staff in August 2017.
The gym is fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including aerobic machines, weights, massage chairs, an aromatherapy station and a rock wall. Since the gym’s reopening, there has been a larger push for wellbeing events and programs at Wake Forest. Aided by the Office of Wellbeing and Campus Recreation, the Reynolds Gymnasium is now more than just a place to work out.
The Office of Wellbeing has taken up its new residence on the first floor of Reynolds Gymnasium. Also known as Thrive, the office has initiated campus-wide attempts to make wellbeing a part of every student’s Wake Forest experience. They hold many events to help individuals maintain a balanced life both physically and mentally. For instance, every week Thrive hosts “Wellbeing Wednesdays” where new activities are offered to promote wellbeing. These activities range from creating essential oils to participating in acupuncture demonstrations to meditating through using coloring books. Additionally, on “Wellbeing Wednesdays,” free group fitness classes that go beyond traditional workout routines are offered. These classes include ones such as tai chi, jazz dancing, and hip hop dancing.
In the newly renovated gymnasium, there are now spacious rooms for Thrive to host these events, including a spacious lounge area, classrooms and a portable kitchen for cooking demonstrations and workshops. Every month the Office of Wellbeing partners with the Deacon Dining Wellness Program to also host monthly cooking classes to educate students, faculty and staff on Performance Dining, a program that encourages eating with purpose.
“The cooking classes provide a way to approach each meal and snack with the goal of obtaining the most nutrients to nourish the body, mind and spirit,” said Brooke Orr, the Nutrition Director of Deacon Dining
Smoothie bowls, vegan spaghetti puttanesca, black bean burgers and chocolate-covered strawberries are some of the meals that have been prepared by students, faculty and staff in these cooking demonstrations.
Furthermore, the Office of Wellbeing now also offers massage therapy as a way for students to relax from stress and working out. Students can book one hour sessions with a licensed massage therapist for $50. The goal of massage therapy is to enhance overall wellbeing through both physical and mental relaxation and pain relief.
Another service being offered by Thrive is Wellbeing Coaching, a practice that supports an individual’s self-determination to engage in goal-oriented and health-promoting behavior changes. Wellbeing Coaching is available to any currently-enrolled student, faculty or staff at no cost.
Many students have taken advantage of the gym’s offerings, especially the group fitness classes offered everyday through Campus Recreation. These classes range from yoga, cycling, zumba, pilates, to body pump. A group fitness pass costs $40 per semester for students, granting unlimited access to all fitness classes. For those who do not have a group fitness pass, the price of each individual class is $5. In addition to group fitness classes, students can also work out one-on-one with a trainer or in a small group setting.
Freshman Lilli Cooper takes advantage of the group fitness classes almost every day and enjoys the enthusiasm that the instructors bring to their classes.
“My favorite class is RPM, [which is] indoor cycling. I love the environment because everyone is motivated to work hard, and there is so much energy in the room. You can definitely tell that the instructors are passionate about what they do,” Cooper said.
In addition to attending events offered by the Office of Wellbeing, students can become involved with the Thrive initiative. Students can become an intern, volunteer or peer educator.
Freshman Rachel Cooper is a mental health ambassador and enjoys being involved with Thrive and helping to educate her peers.
“It’s great to be a part of a program that works to destigmatize mental illness and health. It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of ‘Work Forest,’ but I love how Thrive is an easily accessible resource to the community,” Cooper said.
The Office of Wellbeing has a strong presence on campus. They hang signs and posters around campus and post on their Instagram and Facebook, to keep the Wake Forest community informed about new events and activities. These efforts created by Thrive aim to help students maintain a well-balanced college experience through having a healthy lifestyle. With the renovation of Reynolds Gymnasium completed, Wake Forest is prioritizing both mental and physical wellbeing among the community.