Meet the (Student) Teachers

Author: Caroline Ashworth

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Notre Dame students have the opportunity to purchase a fitness pass through RecSports that provides access to a variety of unlimited group fitness classes. The classes are taught by passionate individuals, many of whom are undergraduate students eager to spread their love of fitness.

Sophomore Colleen Murdock teaches Sculpt’d Yoga. She was first introduced to yoga in her high school physical education class and continued taking classes during her first year at Notre Dame. Ultimately, she decided to enroll in a program through RecSports to get her teaching certification. 

Sculpt’d Yoga is a combination of yoga and weight training. There are elements of the class that provide the same benefits of yoga, like relaxation and mindfulness, but most of the class focuses on strength.

Murdock said, “Since it is yoga, it’s very relaxing, calming. When I leave I always feel really energized, with a fresh start.” Murdock begins each class with Child’s Pose and ends with Shavasana. “There is still that aspect of traditional yoga,” she said, “but the bulk of the class is strength. 

Junior Julianna Whitecotton teaches Cardio Dance. Similar to Murdock, when Whitecotton discovered that undergraduate students could teach fitness classes at RecSports, she enrolled to receive her teaching certification.

Whitecotton has been dancing since she was 3 years old, and has participated in a variety of dance types. She realized that in college, she wanted a way to continue dancing while also working out.

“I decided to combine my love for dance with my newfound love for fitness,” Whitecotton said. “I didn’t have time to work and do a dance club and workout, so I was like, this is a great way to combine all three!”

Cardio Dance is similar to Zumba. Both are ways of combining dance and exercise, but Cardio Dance features different song types and dance moves. Whitecotton also features sculpting songs in her classes that target the lower body, upper body and abs, each during their own song.

Claire Russell, a fifth-year architecture student, teaches Beat Biking through RecSports. Beat Biking is a cycling workout in which students sync their movements to the beat of music. It is a low-impact workout that is great for cardio and muscle toning, as well as building leg and core strength.

Having been a varsity athlete in high school, Russell came into college looking for a way to stay active. While she didn’t really know what Beat Biking was at first, she quickly fell in love with it. “The instructor was so great,” Russell said, reflecting on one of the classes she took. “She had such good energy. She brought in disco lights to some classes.” After taking more classes, Russell eventually decided to begin teaching her own.

Sophomore Madison Chambers teaches Yoga Flow. Unlike the others, Chambers was a certified instructor before she enrolled at Notre Dame.

“My mom started taking me to yoga classes when I was 4 years old,” Chambers said, “They had kids yoga as the childcare for the adult yoga classes.” Chambers spent a summer in high school taking classes to receive her yoga teaching certification and began teaching classes soon after.

Chambers enjoys teaching Yoga Flow because it offers physical and mental health benefits that you can’t always get from other workouts. Because she is also a competitive weightlifter, Chambers believes that yoga is beneficial both on its own and in tandem with other physical activities.

Chambers likes to have a meaning behind every class that she teaches. “My biggest meaning lately has been letting people know that the most important thing is taking care of yourself,” she said.

“Your mental health and physical health always trump grades.”

All four of these instructors share common sentiments. First, they love teaching the Notre Dame community. “I love teaching because it’s a chance for me to meet people that aren’t in my major or in my grade and grow that little Notre Dame community a little wider,” Russell said. “I also like bringing people together.”

Second, they emphasized that anyone can take their classes, no matter their experience or skill level. “My hope is that every type of person will come and teach themselves that they’re able to do things they never thought they could,” Chambers said.