Lunchtime fitness keeps employees hopping

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017

McGill Staff Fitness courses are offered twice a week, 45 minutes a session, for 13 weeks. / Photo courtesy of McGill Athletics and Recreation

By Neale McDevitt

McGill has long had a reputation as a place to train your brain. What many people don’t know is that the University also offers ample opportunities to nurture your body as well.

McGill’s Staff Fitness Program provides employees with the chance to get up from their desks and get active with a full slate of lunchtime classes. From aqua fitness and badminton, to Pilates and Zumba, there is something for everyone. “We try to cover all our bases,” says Perry Karnofsky, Manager, McGill Recreation.

“For people who like more low-key activities, we have Tai-Chi and yoga. For people who are looking for something more up tempo, we have Zumba and boot camp-type body design classes,” he says. “And then we have the sports options, like badminton or tennis, for people who want to get out and play.”

Each course is offered twice a week, 45 minutes per class, for 13 weeks.

The program began in 2001, as a collaboration between Athletics and Recreation and the University. Administration’s continued financial support means that staff members pay a paltry $20 (taxes included) per course. “If you do the math, it comes up to about $1 per hour of fitness, which you won’t find anywhere else,” says Karnofsky. “I think it speaks to the commitment the University has to employees, and the understanding of the importance of fitness in our lives.”

This fall, 16 lunchtime sessions will be offered downtown. Most will be held in the Sports Centre, with several yoga classes scheduled in Presbyterian College. Macdonald Campus employees can choose from six lunchtime offerings and seven evening classes.

Each semester, some 650 staff members take advantage of the Fitness Program. Spinning, tennis and badminton are among the most popular courses, says Karnofsky. “Tennis usually fills up on the first day of registration, so people should register as early as possible,” he says.

Because the Sports Complex is usually booked solid – especially during lunch hour – Athletics and Recreation has begun to explore the option of expanding onto Lower Campus. “I may be dreaming in technicolour, but I’d love to bring some courses to Redpath Hall, for example,” says Karnofsky. “We’re always looking for ways to make it more convenient for people to be active.”

Of course, for employees who prefer training on their own, the Sports Complex offers a reduced rate for staff on its all-inclusive membership. “The new all-inclusive membership gives people access to everything – the Fitness Centre, swimming pool, track, gymnasiums, squash and tennis courts. If you want to come and play some pick-up basketball or go for a swim or lift some weights, it’s all included under a single membership,” says Karnofsky.

Fall registration begins Monday, Aug. 28, and classes begin the week of Sept.  11. People can register online or in person at the Client Services office (G-20C) of the Sports Complex, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Because of the popularity of the Program, people are asked to register for only one course per semester.

Get more information on and register for McGill’s downtown Staff Fitness Program.

Get more information on and register for staff fitness options at Macdonald Campus.

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