By: Elyse Cottrell

With the start of a New Year comes New Year’s resolutions to get fit, and be healthy. UPEI offers many opportunities to improve your health and wellness and our tuition comes with access to a variety of ways to help with fitness. While others may embrace outside winter activities, or hibernate inside due to the cold, there are those for whom winter brings the fear of seriously injuring yourself with a simple misstep.

It can be daunting trying to find a fitness class when you have mobility issues.  As someone with a neurological disease, I know the uncertainty that can come with wanting to get involved in something, but worrying that you won’t be able to physically do it.  Having spoken with other students, I know I’m not alone in this regard.

There are a lot of opportunities at UPEI for people who have mobility issues, or even have just never taken a fitness class and don’t know where to start. I’m going to use the term free, acknowledging that the cost is actually included in your tuition as a full time student.

One of the safest places to start, is in the CARI Complex.

Being in the water is great for people with mobility issues.  You don’t need to worry about balance, stability or flexibility. In addition to general swims (open swim, lane swim etc) that students can access at no additional cost, CARI offers a variety of fitness classes that are free for students.  They range from Aqua Zumba (Jill and Christie will help you learn to dance in the water!) in the shallow pool, to deep pool fitness classes like UFit Aqua, and Sunrise and Sunset Aquafit, which are variety classes.

You don’t even need to know how to swim, as flotation belts are used for deep pool classes.  If you need assistance getting in and out of the pool, you can arrange with that with the CARI as well.  The UFit Aqua classes always have steps going into the pool, that are more like a flight of stairs with railings, making it easier to go in or out. The class consists mostly of an older crowd, as the time slot used to be an arthritis class before Gord McNeilly took over, but The Brain Injury Association of PEI has members that attend these classes, and it’s growing in popularity to have a more diverse group, including business people on their lunch, and students. The classes are great as they allow you the ability to work at your own place.  Also, since you’re underwater, you don’t have to worry about messing up dance steps, or not being able to do what the instructor is suggesting, because no one can see you.

If you’re looking for something a bit faster paced, Tuesdays at 8:30pm there is a Water Polo recreation league at CARI.  It’s free for full time students, and is pick up, so there is no commitment, and they play with and train whoever shows up.  If you want more information, you can contact Frédéric Chatigny (https://www.facebook.com/frederic.chatigny)

If you are more of a land lover, full time students have access not only to the gym, but also to a variety of different classes (http://files.upei.ca/athletics/fitness/winter_class_schedule.pdf)

I think the Fitness Centre does a great disservice to itself by marketing Dance Cardio Fusion Light to “the mature adult” instead of “people with mobility concerns” or something along those lines.  The description implies that’s what they’re getting at, but not all mature adults have mobility concerns, and not everyone with mobility concerns is a “mature adult”.  This is a great option for anyone who has concerns about not being able to keep up with the Dance Cardio Fusion class, for any reason. Lyndsey Paynter is really great at making sure you feel comfortable and have fun.  A great hint about any of the fitness classes offered in Gym 3.  If you want to watch it before you try it, the walking track (also free for full time students) overlooks it.

UPEI also offers a variety of specialty classes (http://files.upei.ca/athletics/fitness/winter_specialty_class_schedule.pdf) that full time students can pay $51 (for 6 weeks) to access, or $12 to drop in.

Yin yoga is a much slower paced yoga, as someone with nerve damage, myopathy and balance issues, just to name a few, it’s a type of yoga I can actually do. Focusing more on stretching and breathing, Derrick Biso strives to ensure the class is as accessible as it can be.

There are a lot of other classes in Cari, at the Fitness Centre, and Recreation leagues (http://www.upei.ca/ar/recreation) that I didn’t talk about, but you can learn about them in the links.

If you have any questions about any of the classes, contact CARI, the Fitness Centre, or the instructor, (depending on the class) and they’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.

If none of these strike your fancy, there are a lot of yoga studios, gyms, fitness and wellness classes around PEI, and most places offer a student discount. Don’t let fear or worry get in the way of increasing your health, and hopefully your happiness.