TSR Fitness offers space for inclusive, student-led group workouts

Tufts Student Resources holds a dance event in Hill Hall on Feb. 13. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)

Every new year brings in a wave of resolutions to go to the gym and get into shape. However, the gym can be an intimidating place and SoulCycle classes can get expensive. For students on the Tufts campus, there is a more convenient alternative: TSR Fitness.

An entirely student-run program, TSR Fitness offers students a variety of group workout classes, ranging from Zumba to kickboxing. It functions under the umbrella of Tufts Student Resources (TSR), a non-profit, student-run business organization perhaps best known for providing microfridge rentals, according to TSR’s website.

This spring, TSR Fitness classes are conducted Monday through Thursday in the Hill Hall aerobics room. Students can drop in on a single class for five dollars each, or they can purchase a 5 Class Pass for $20, unlimited sessions of a single class for $40  or the unlimited package for $125, according to the website.

Earlier, TSR Fitness held its biannual Free Week from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, giving students a chance to try out classes before making a financial commitment, according to its Facebook event.

“One of my friends recommended it and it was free so I decided to try it out,” Ella Brady, a sophomore, said.

Sophomore Sarah Wagner liked the idea of working out in a group setting and decided to attend a kickboxing class during Free Week, after learning about it from a post in the Class of 2020 Facebook group. Now, she attends the class every week.

“I’m way more motivated to work out when someone’s telling me what to do, so I thought I’d give it a shot,” Wagner said. “I did the kickboxing class and it was really fun.” 

For current student instructors and seniors Flora Sugarman and Jonah Tanguay-Colucci, attending a Free Week class in their first semester at Tufts gave them a good first taste of what it is like to participate in and lead a group workout.

Tanguay-Colucci tells the Daily that in order to become eligible to teach TSR Fitness classes, prospective student instructors go through an application process where they answer a few basic questions about relevant experience and certifications, then conduct a 10- to 15-minute sample class.

“You can get hundreds of different certifications from hundreds of different places online, so the sample class really shows whether or not you can actually teach. Personality and experience matter,” he said.

Tanguay-Colucci, who is teaching Pilates this semester, studied ballet pre-professionally in high school, which led to long hours spent working out and staying fit. Along the way, he started teaching some classes and loved it. 

Sugarman, who is leading kickboxing classes this semester, shared that she competed as a synchronized ice-skater from age seven all through high school, even becoming a part of Team USA for her last two years of high school. She described that she needed full-body strength in order to succeed as an ice skater, which led to her taking fitness classes all throughout her life.

Sugarman noted the ease with which teaching TSR Fitness classes fit into her schedule, in contrast to her previous schedule as a competitive ice skater.

“It’s just two hours a week and I would be working out anyway,” Sugarman said.

Both Brady and Wagner found the student-led aspect of the classes to be attractive. However, Brady mentioned that taking classes in a group can go one of two ways: The group can empower oneself and one’s feelings about their own body, or it can be intimidating.

Sugarman said that as an instructor, she strives to create a space where students can feel comfortable working out in a group.

I actually got the best compliment I’ve ever gotten last week, when someone came up to me after my class and said that they’re usually really embarrassed to work out in a group, but she was completely comfortable and happy in my class,” Sugarman said.

Wagner appreciated the mix of people who attend these fitness classes as well.

“There are people who are super fit and others who are just trying to get in shape,” Wagner said. “Everyone’s there just to have fun and feel confident which is a cool vibe.

 Sugarman shared that she avoids emphasizing how people look and instead focuses on how people feel in her classes.

“I try not to do any of that … ‘Let’s try to work to get that summer bod!’ kind of thing. I try to keep it more about feeling strong,” Sugarman said. “That’s what I like most about fitness, I just like feeling strong and confident.”

Brady shared that this welcoming environment makes TSR Fitness classes something that she wants to continue attending.

“I plan on coming back at some point this semester. It was a lot of fun and I liked the challenge,” Brady said.

Though Free Week is in the past, TSR Fitness plans on holding more free events throughout the semester. According to Sugarman, one such event in the works is a Women’s Night at the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center, which aims to make the gym available and accessible to everyone.

Sugarman added that students can look forward to another Free Week during finals week, which she hopes will give students an opportunity to get moving during that stressful period.

“If I didn’t work out, I’d just be this ball of tension all the time.” Sugarman said.