We love so many things about the South Bend/Mishawaka/Granger area, but right at the top of the list is that it’s such a fabulous college town. Our local colleges and universities bring so much to our hometown: opportunities for lifelong learning, football Saturdays, beautiful campuses to explore, and–best of all–interesting people from all over the world who come here to work and study. Plenty of area college students have found their way through our doors over the years, and though they may only be here for a short time, these young women are a valuable part of the B Present community.
For most students, college is a time of unprecedented freedom. Whether you decide to hit the hay early every night and study in the morning with coffee in hand, or you opt to burn the midnight oil and never take a class before 10:00 a.m., for the first time you have more control over your schedule than ever before. It’s also often the first time you’re responsible for feeding yourself, and if you grew up playing sports and attending daily practices, perhaps it’s the first time that exercise isn’t built into your day.
That lack of structure and routine coupled with so many opportunities to make less-than-ideal choices can set students up for some struggles in maintaining their overall health and wellness. (If the ice cream machine in the dining hall is available during breakfast hours, does than mean ice cream is now a breakfast food?! YES.). A recent study showed that on average, college students eat less than one serving of fruits and vegetables per day–far fewer than the recommended five servings daily. Overwhelming schedules, homesickness, and pressure to perform academically all contribute to developing habits like eating late at night, skipping meals, and stress-eating. And though many students begin college with a fairly active lifestyle, researchers at Indiana University have found that they become significantly more sedentary as they approach senior year.
“The college years can be a confusing time,” says B Present founder Tammy. “You have a main job of going to school, and yet there is this expectation that you should also be having soooo much fun, while getting good grades, and looking good, and doing volunteer service, and keeping in touch with your grandmother, and maybe even working a job or playing a sport on top of that.” Barre beauty Clare, who started coming to B Present as a high school student and is now a freshman at Notre Dame, concurs: “It’s been a big adjustment. I love being at Notre Dame, but between classes, meeting people, getting involved in extracurriculars, and generally trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, it can be a little (or a lot) overwhelming.”
With all of that juggling and stress, it’s understandable that exercise might slip to the bottom of the to-do list. But there’s a litany of reasons to carve out that time for a workout that go well beyond avoiding the “freshman 15.”
It’ll help you handle that crazy schedule like a boss.
Time management is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing students as they try to figure out how to allot their non-class time to studying, socializing, and sleep. (Long live the college midday nap!) Slotting it all into the calendar can be overwhelming and intimidating, and lots of “flex time” in the schedule can encourage procrastination and wasted time. It might seem counterintuitive when there’s so much to get done, but scheduling a self-care activity or two into your day–signing up for a barre class, for example–can boost your productivity by helping to make sense of what “chunks” of time you have available that day and then getting the most out of that time. Jackie, a barre beauty and coach of the women’s cross country team at Saint Mary’s College, says that she often sits down with potential student-athletes who are worried about time management and academic performance. “I like to point out that my team usually performs better academically while we are in season than out of season (though there’s not a glaring difference, thankfully!),” she says. “I think having structured time for exercise forces them to keep up with their work on a realistic schedule.”
You can cut back on your trips to the campus health center.
Sharing is caring, unless we’re talking germs–and in college, there’s an awful lot of that. Viruses and bacteria spread easily in communal spaces like dorms, dining halls, and classrooms, so college students are particularly susceptible to catching bugs that cause anything from a common cold to strep throat or the flu. It’s probably not feasible to plan on never getting sick, but some research suggests that regularly exercising might make you less likely to succumb to the sniffles; one study found that being active cut the frequency of common colds nearly in half, and reduced the severity when subjects did get sick. They found that exercise triggers a temporary rise in immune system cells circulating in the body, and though those levels return to normal after a few hours, each exercise session produces another little immune system boost that can help fight off foreign invaders. A little more time spent breaking a sweat in exchange for a little less time spent huddled under a blanket in misery surrounded by piles of used Kleenex? We’ll take it.
Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.
Feelings of depression and anxiety are common during the college years. “These are your first years away from home and you are trying to figure out who you are, what you believe in, what you stand for, what you want to say yes and no to,” says Tammy. “It’s an exciting time, but one that comes with a strong possibility of anxiety too.” Fortunately, the mental health benefits of exercise might be even more impressive than the physical health benefits: whether you suffer from clinical depression/anxiety or just occasional encounters with the blues, exercise is proven to help ease those symptoms. Working out releases those feel-good chemicals in your brain that produce feelings of euphoria and reduce your perception of pain. It also provides a self-esteem boost, a distraction from stressors and worrying, and an opportunity to interact with others–all of which help to improve your mood and overall mental well-being.
“Overall, I feel like students’ stress and and anxiety levels are at the highest I’ve noticed since I started coaching,” says Jackie. “However, I believe that finding a routine for fitness helps to manage stress and anxiety, and just helps you feel better in general.”
You’ll be a smarty pants (and look good in them too).
The evidence is clear and abundant: students who are active perform better academically. One study analyzed the exercise patterns of undergraduates at North Carolina State University and found that every one hour increase in exercise each week equated to a .06 increase in GPA, and that for every extra hour of participation in rec sports programs, a student’s odds of graduating also increased by 50%. Another study at Saginaw Valley State University showed the same thing: students who regularly participated in “vigorous physical activity” had higher GPAs. And you won’t just be smarter “on paper,” either: scientists have discovered that exercise appears to directly improve cognitive function and build a brain that resists physical shrinkage. (Those scientists set up an elaborate experiment with rats, and the long and short of it is this: no matter what other enriching experiences they gave the rats, nothing helped those furry guys ace their cognitive tests as much as putting a running wheel in their cage. The rats that ran their tails off were at the top of their class. Lucky for you, you’re not a rat and we have a barre, so there’s no need for you to get on a running wheel. 😉 )
You might make some new friends.
Bonding over shared interests is a great way to find your tribe, both during and after college. If living a healthy lifestyle is important to you, then you would probably prefer to surround yourself with people who also prioritize their health and will support you in your efforts to stay active and eat well most of the time. And chances are excellent that you’ll find those likeminded fit folks in places where you get fit (cough, ahem, B Present).
Clare, who still ventures off campus several times a week to attend class at B Present, can attest to this firsthand. “I found a wonderfully supportive group of women who are pursuing their own paths to becoming their best selves and encouraging me to do the same,” she says. “No matter what is going on in any part of my life, I always leave B Present feeling amazing and ready to take on any challenge.”
“I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have a place like B Present when I was 20. Being surrounded by strong, hard working, supportive women is so powerful.”
Tammy has long felt that college-aged women are close to her heart as an especially important clientele to serve. “I see B Present as a little bubble for college students to get away from it all, to get built up, encouraged, and strengthened both inside and out,” she says. “I hope we can help them remember their ‘why’ on the hardest of days and even fill the void of home when the lonely days strike.”
Building self-worth is such a cornerstone of our mission, and we believe that our message is one that all young women need to hear. “The positive messages about self-acceptance, your journey being your journey, and believing in what’s possible have made such a difference in my life, not only in terms of my workout but in my studies and how I live my life,” says Clare.
As someone who works with college-aged women every day, Jackie sees so much value in the positive messaging that they can find here. “The college years are full of self-exploration, and the first year especially can be challenging to navigate and find your place,” she says. “Then, as you near graduation, there are new fears and concerns about the future. I believe the messaging at B Present would reassure young women that it is okay to be yourself, that you don’t have to be like someone else to fit in, and that you shouldn’t worry TOO much about the future (they are 22! and have a lot of life ahead of them!) but instead enjoy the moment and trust that your hard work will pave the way to a great future.”
Signing up for a class is as easy as clicking a button with our handy mobile app, or you could try one of our Barre on Demand classes first from the comfort of your dorm room or apartment to see what we’re all about. It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, but rest assured that you’ll be welcomed with open arms here. If you’ve been thinking about paying us a visit but have held back afraid that you won’t know anyone or you’ll look out of place, put those worries aside and know that Clare has a message just for you: “B Present is just a few miles from campus. If you ever need a ride, let me know–we can carpool!” 😉
As we like to say around here…if you never try, you’ll never know.
P.S. Don’t worry about missing us too much when you head home for the summer in a few weeks. You can get your B Present fix anytime, anywhere using Barre on Demand!
P.P.S. If you’re a college student and you still aren’t convinced about how special you are to us, then how’s this? We even have a special rate for you. Drop in for a single class for $10, or buy a discounted 10-class pack or monthly unlimited membership. We also have a Strong Student membership program that comes with a snazzy water bottle. Cheers!