Laura Umetsu, Editor in Chief
Meet Rachel Lahasky, fitness instructor at LSU Student Recreation Center’s program known as Group X. Lahasky, who teaches a variety of dance and aerobic based fitness classes available for free to members of LSU’s community, is excited to be a part of a dynamic program that is changing how students at LSU experience fitness. Today she shares with CGN her love for helping others stay in shape and the importance of a healthy exercise regimen when in school, as well as how to get involved through Group X.
CGN: What classes do you teach, when, and where?
RL: During the Spring Semester, I will be teaching at the LSU University Recreation Center and the classes that I teach include: 30-20-10 (30 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of resistance, and a 10 minute cool down), Intermediate Step, Step and Kick (half step and half kickboxing), and Cycle Express (30 minutes of cycle). The schedule can be found by visiting the LSU-UREC’s website and searching for GroupX. There are also class descriptions on the website as well as a guide to show you how to sign up for a class.
CGN: What is your favorite workout, and why?
RL: My favorite workout is Step! I love Step because it’s both challenging and fun and a great cardio workout. There are endless combinations that can be put together on the step and you can build on top of moves, making it more intermediate/advanced. It’s the type of workout that you get better at the more you do it and when I’m in my “step zone” I’m not thinking about anything else but the music and the choreography.
CGN: Who is your fitness role model, and why?
RL: I don’t have a “famous” fitness role model…my roommate freshman year was very big into running and inspired me to get more fit. She introduced me to the UREC and showed me how to get around the LSU Lakes without getting lost. Since then, I have introduced fitness into my life and wouldn’t have it any other way. My friend runs half marathons and marathons (which I could never do and think is SO crazy cool) and is just a positive energy to be around, especially when exercising!
CGN: Where and how did you get started on kickboxing and aerobics?
RL: I have always been a “dancer” and grew up taking dance classes and then joining my school’s dance team/cheerleading team. I really got into aerobics when I was a freshman at LSU and found the Group X classes. It was the closest thing I could find to dancing and choreography and I found that working out in a group setting motivated me more than working out on a machine by myself. I also liked the idea that in one hour, I was guaranteed a great, safe workout and then I could go home and not think “hmm..maybe I could have done more reps…
CGN: Describe to us what the typical workout is like for one of your Fitness classes.
RL: The typical workout starts with a 10-12 minute warm up (we get the heart rate up and begin to elevate our RPE’s (rate of perceived exertion) and then stretch every major muscle), we then get moving and quickly get the heart rate up with cardio. If it’s a 30-20-10 class, the cardio changes week to week (we do Step, Bosu, Kickboxing, or some sort of circuit) and then halfway through we move into our resistance work. If it’s Step and Kick for example, we will do cardio for approximately 40 minutes and then finish with a little core work (working the abdominals and lower back). We always finish every class with a cool down which lowers our heart rate and stretches every muscle that was used during that class.
CGN: In your teaching experience, tell us about a out of shape to fit success story that you have been a part of with your students.
RL: I don’t have one in particular, however, there have been multiple students and faculty who have come to my classes at the beginning of a semester and have been either overweight, out of shape, or just not very confident in their aerobic abilities. Within even a couple of months, these people lost weight, were taking less frequent breaks during a class, were using less modifications, and even moved to the front row!
CGN: How would you advise someone who is very out of shape and is looking to lose weight start on workouts without killing themselves or getting too discouraged from the get go?
RL: We are always instructed to encourage those folks to first see their doctor to make sure they are “ok” to start a work out regimen. At that point, joining the “all” labeled classes (meaning anyone can come, it is not intermediate or advanced in nature) would be a great start. Every instructor at the UREC is trained to give modifications and we encourage taking water breaks whenever needed, so taking advantage of these safe workout classes (with other people around you of different shapes and sizes) is a great place to start. I would also encourage those people to try several different types of classes. I say this for two reasons…first, it’s never good to get stuck in a “workout rut…” it’s important to vary up what we do day to day so that we are always targeting different muscle groups and strengthening our bodies without stressing our muscles. Second, when someone is just starting out, they may not know what they like! By trying a variety of classes, you get to know your body and fitness level better and you have the opportunity to discover what you really enjoy doing.
CGN: Why do you believe it’s important to find good fitness and exercise opportunities that you enjoy?
RL: My full time job is a clinical social worker (LCSW)…finding a good fitness and exercise program is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health. Studies show that regular exercise is one of the most natural remedies for minor depression and other mental health issues such as anxiety (something we all experience in our day to day life…especially law students!!). When we take good care of our body through fitness, we are also improving our focus at work and school, keeping stress levels to a minimum, and taking control of one piece of our life that we actually have control over. When our body feels good, our mind feels good and we tend to be nicer to others and more importantly, to ourselves.
CGN: You have a brother who just passed the bar — with that in perspective, why is it important in particular for law students to find fitness outlets that they enjoy?
RL: Yes, he did…so proud of him. I have no idea what it’s really like to dedicate three years to law school and then have this huge weight to carry around for an additional five months of “Have I passed the Bar!?” I do, however, know what it’s like to go through a graduate school program and anyone who is in a higher level education program knows what it’s like to feel pressure from every angle of our life. We want to be good family members but we need time to study…we want to be good students, but we also want to keep our social life…etc, etc, etc. Finding a fitness outlet allows any graduate student the opportunity to clear their mind for a short period of time each day (or every couple of days) and release built up tension in our body that is created from the stress and pressures of school. When those students can find that physical release, they can think more clearly and tend to have more positive thoughts during their day. Plus, one good decision leads to another and this will create an all around better experience for those crazy stressed out law students!