Students chatted away in the basement of Castleton College’s Fine Arts Center Thursday afternoon as students waited for instructions. Then the upbeat electronic music started blasting from the speakers as kickboxing instructor Jennifer Turchi galloped across the floor.
“Everybody in right combat stance,” Turchi yelled enthusiastically, sporting her green and white Tapout gym shorts.
And so it began. Before this reporter knew what hit him, he was shuffling his feet and moving his arms looking around for confirmation he was doing the right moves.
Commands to jab and punch across, followed by a hook were made, and attempted, but poorly executed. It was obvious that some, if not all of the participants, were looking at each other in partial embarrassment and seeking assurance.
Upbeat music continued to echo as the punches and kicks synchronized with the beat almost boosting the morale of the participants of the class. Their punches grew strong and sharper. As time went on, more and more people seemed worried less about the others in the class and solely on the kickboxing itself.
“At first you feel a little self conscious, but then you realize that no one is judging you and everyone is there to do the same thing,” said freshman Kelly St. Marie. “It’s a supportive environment and then you feel more comfortable about it and you start putting more into it.”
But why should students participate in the kickboxing class?
“When you’re in that moment and working hard, you just feel empowered,” Turchi said. “To just leave everything behind for an hour and just be in here and be in the moment with the great music and the energy in the room, it’s so much more than the physical I think.”
Goals for the class are not learning how to defend yourself or learning how to fight, but rather learning to stick with something when it gets challenging, St. Marie said.
Turchi said the class is also simply good exercise.
“It’s all focused on the muscle groups we are working on at the time,” said Turchi.
The physical benefits are a no-brainer, but the mental and emotional aspects may go unnoticed. Many in the class, including junior Rubina Saini, said it helps release stress in a fun environment with friends.
Most in the class said they learned about it by talking to a friend and coming to the next workout, but others got word from the school.
“The Wellness Center sent me an email,” said Saini.
High energy, positive vibes and being around supportive, fun people are what gets freshman Emily Chase and sophomore Amber Chase to return each week.
The students love the class, but the instructor might love it more.
“I don’t wanna say it’s my favorite part of the day on Thursday, but it s pretty close to being my favorite,” said Turchi
The class meets every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in the dance studio of the Fine Arts Center.