Meet the Spring WesBAM! Instructors

Wesleyan Body and Mind (WesBAM) is a student group dedicated to health and fitness on campus. Entirely run by students, the club provides a variety of weekly courses to ensure that healthy living is fun and accessible for students of all body types and abilities.

Check out the schedule and see if you can make it to class sometime this week. All the classes are free this week!:

Read after the jump to find out more about some of your instructors (there are 15 altogether) and their health tips for the spring.

Natasha Cucullo ’15

What course do you teach? 

I teach the course “Bottomz Up Pilates,” which is a fusion of mat pilates and high-intensity cardio exercises. (I’m teaching this upcoming Friday from 3:15-4:15 in Fayerweather Dance studio.)

Who is your exercise role model?

I wouldn’t say I have one exercise role model, but I’m v into sports and athletics, so honestly anybody that goes to the Olympics is pretty gucc (esp. the gymnasts, those gurlz are amazn). I would also say that YouTube exercise gurus/stretching videos are great if it’s snowy and you don’t want to leave your room (I watch a lot of Cassey Ho Pop Pilates videos). Even a 10 minute stretching or yoga video is great to switch things up between gym workouts, diving practice, and WesBAM classes.

What do you do to warm up before each class?

To warm up, I first create a workout for my class of the week. Each week I try to incorporate different moves to target certain areas of the body. Since Pilates is a total body workout, I split the class up into four sections (Legs, Arms/Back, Butt, and Abs) and usually have four to five exercises per area. If an exercise is more advanced, I provide a modification, and vice versa. To finish mah ~planning~ I pick some moooooozique (music) for the class, which alwayz includes at least one Beyoncé song (uh-duh).

Do you feel a rivalry with Freeman Athletic Center?

I personally do not feel a rivalry with Freeman because I believe that it offers students a space to experiment with the weight room and other options (such as swimming) that wouldn’t be possible without a gym at our fingertips. As a student athlete (I’m a diver on the Wesleyan Swimming and Diving team), I think that Freeman is a great base for weight training and traditional cardio while WesBAM provides all students with the opportunity to cross train, challenge their flexibility, and encourages other modes of training that are not offered for course credit. WesBAM’s variety of courses (from Yoga and Pilates to HIIT/Zumba/Self Defense) really demonstrate how WesBAM has expanded over the years and continually explores new avenues of health, wellness, and fitness.

What’s the most rewarding part about being an instructor?

The most rewarding part of being a WesBAM instructor is to provide the Wesleyan student body with student-led classes that they may not have access to without WesBAM. As a participant last year, I had never been to a student-led group fitness class before learning about WesBAM in the spring, and after walking into one class (and finding out that it was only $5 per class), I signed up for 3 more, attending each class for the rest of the semester. It is inspiring to see how everyone (including myself) improves over the course of the semester and how motivated participants are to push themselves to the next level and challenge their current fitness levels. Moreover, being surrounded by a group of individuals (students and instructors) who is excited about making health and wellness a priority has drastically improved my overall sense of balance, organizational skills, health and fitness level.

Could you give us one health tip for the coming semester?

One health tip (I’ll give dos!):

1. Drink water! Water is essential fur lyfe and the long road ahead. Fill up your water bottle the night before and drink it as soon as you wake up. Your skin will improve, your body will wake up and feel refreshed, you’ll realize that a lot of hunger pains are caused by thirst, and you will drink more water throughout the day.

2. Eat breakfast! Eating breakfast boosts your metabolism and gets your day started on the right foot. Weshop has AMAZN greek yogurt (Greek Gods Yogurt–the honey flavor is mah fave) + chia seeds, granola, bananas/fruits, cinnamon, etc., but make sure you switch it up and have protein as well (eggz for dayz)!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Promotional Week is a great way to see if a class fits in your schedule/is right for you. I’d encourage you to come to as many classes as you are inspired to attend. Also, you can start up any class no matter how late it is in the semester, we welcome any and all fitness levelz!

Eva Frieden ’15

What course do you teach?

Total Body Conditioning

Who is your exercise role model?

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about Tom Brady (the patriots quarterback–go pats!)’s lifestyle/workout regemine. He’s crazy disciplined and structures his time in an effective manner and sticks to his schedule. I mean, he’s 37 and he’s still going strong–arguably still the best QB in the world at the moment. I respect his dedication and drive and willpower.

What do you do to warm up before each class?

I actually warm up with my class! I dedicate the first 3-5 minutes of class for a warmup which includes stretching and movements that get the heart rate up (jumping jacks, squats, etc.)

Do you feel a rivalry with Freeman Athletic Center?

Not at all! I feel like WesBAM offers something that Freeman doesn’t–a motivating, group/team environment where you can push yourself and get a great workout alongside a group of determined individuals. At Freeman, even if you go with a buddy, you are doing your own thing–no one is telling you what exercises to do and how hard and long to do that for. I also think going to Freeman some days and attending WesBAM classes on others is a GREAT way to switch up your workouts and continually keep your body and muscles challenged. I also think switching up your workouts is a great way to continue to love being active–and not getting bored/burned out by doing the same old routine.

What’s the most rewarding part about being an instructor?

I’m a WesBAM instructor because I love helping others push past their pre-conceived physical and mental limits. I’m also a big team person—I’ve played every team sport under the sun over the past 22 years, and I feel lost when I’m not in a time environment. I’m currently on the rowing team at wes and find that I can push myself even harder when I’m doing it alongside teammates—and enjoy it that much more than doing it in a solitude environment. As a WesBAM instructor, I so enjoy watching my students achieve the goals they set out for themselves—whether that be breaking a sweat, having fun while getting a workout, or increasing the number of pushups they can do in 1 minute—in other words, watching them become fitter, stronger, and able to exercise more willpower. I also like the freedom I have to design my classes each week, offering new exercises each week to keep things fresh, and revisiting exercises here and there as a way to gauge improvement. I also ADORE making playlists on Spotify and testing them out on my class each week. I love it when a song comes on and my students get excited!

Could you give us one health tip for the coming semester?

I am a BIG believer in getting a lot of sleep. I sleep 9-10 hours a night, and I feel constantly energized throughout my days (I mean, I do drink coffee, so that probably helps…) I feel like on the whole, Wes student struggle to find the time to get sufficicent sleep, because there are always things going on, and no one wants to have FOMO… and I totally get that. But really, I always tell people they’d be amazed at how the quality of their lives improved if they just got a little more sleep than they are used to. Life is too short to be sleepy and in constant need of a nap. And though coffee can be an immediate fix, I don’t think it’s a good thing to rely on on a day to day basis. Also, I am a big believer in eating what you want. In moderation. I think depriving oneself of foods one craves is just not going to end well, for a number of reasons. If you don’t eat, say, chocolate, because you’re worried you won’t be able to stop yourself, then I think that would be a great opportunity to practice exercising some willpower. I could go on and on with my other philosophies… but I will spare you. Unless you want more tips…in which case don’t hesitate to email me at efrieden[at]wesleyan[dot]edu! I LOVE talking about this stuff!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Give WesBAM a shot. Go to a yoga class, a cardio class, whatever appeals to you. You have NOTHING to lose. If you hate it, okay, never go again. But I think WesBAM offers something unique to the Wesleyan community, and it’s a great resource to tap in to! Esp. if you are someone who gets tired of going to, say, elliptical at Freeman by yourself, day after day. Or if you are someone who played team sports before high school and miss working out in a team environment.

Axel Schlossberg ’15

What course do you teach?

I’m teaching Combat Conditioning; it’s a fancy way of saying self-defense classes.

Who is your exercise role model?

My role model is and always will be Batman. Not a joke.

What do you do to warm up before each class?

A mix of slow endurance and high cardio exercises, and I take a moment to explain the day’s class to the students, self-defense is not just about hitting hard or running fast, it’s about awareness, prioritizing, respecting yourself and others.

Do you feel a rivalry with Freeman Athletic Center?

No rivalry, hell, we use their facilities.

What’s the most rewarding part about being an instructor?

It’s a personal thing, but learning mixed martial arts and self-defense enabled me to break through some bad past experiences and avoid new ones. It filled something within me, something personal, a measure of self confidence in my own ability, and as it often is, believing you can do something is the main requirement to getting it done. So, if I can pass that on to anyone, I’ve done a good job.

Could you give us one health tip for the coming semester?

Eat better. Drink less. I know it’s asking a lot. But it makes a world of a difference.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Everything you learn is for the purpose of being able to make a decision, rather than just having to accept whatever comes at you. You can choose how to react, then by your own choice, you’ve made your fate.

Becca McCord ’17

What course do you teach?

PowerFUL Yoga with Becca

Who is your exercise role model?

I don’t really have a role model… I guess anyone who tries something new!

What do you do to warm up before each class?

I usually meditate before I teach yoga, so I’m not all jumbled from the day.

Do you feel a rivalry with Freeman Athletic Center?

I don’t feel a rivalry at all! But that may be because I don’t need any of that equipment, and because practicing yoga is so different than going to the gym.

What’s the most rewarding part about being an instructor?

The most rewarding thing is to see people leave the class with a little more of a smile on their faces.

Could you give us one health tip for the coming semester?

Sleep & meditate. :)

Caitlin O’Keefe ’17

What course do you teach?

H.I.T. Like a Boss!

Who is your exercise role model?

Ronda Rousey! She is constantly setting records, and to hear her talk about her training is the ultimate pep-talk, because she embodies “never give up.”  Also, I’m always looking to women who are pushing the boundaries of exercise and feminism simultaneously. I read a blog by a woman named Caitlin Constantine called Fit and Feminist, and she is always commenting on her own training experiences as they pertain to society. She also shares lots of articles and videos on her Facebook page about people who are breaking the artificial barriers our culture has constructed for us with fitness.

What do you do to warm up before each class?

Teaching my class is generally one of the only parts of my day everything else fades away, so before my class I like to take a few moments to look over what I’ve planned and make sure the music is working properly so all goes smoothly. Then, I take a few minutes for myself to stretch to the beginning of my playlist.

Do you feel a rivalry with Freeman Athletic Center?

I spend most of my free time in Freeman. If I had a rivalry that would be a pretty unhealthy use of time!

What’s the most rewarding part about being an instructor?

Watching a student accomplish an exercise they were certain they could not. Last semester, many of my students made a goal to perform a single full pushup (meaning, no modifications). The last day of class, everyone gave it a try and found they had the strength all along to perform more than one—the smiles on their faces were priceless.

Could you give us one health tip for the coming semester?

Eat for the day’s tasks—by that I mean, don’t look at a food and decide to eat it or not by if it has been arbirtraily labeled “good” or “bad,” but take a look at what you have to accomplish and what food will give you the best fuel. For instance, if I’ve got a day full of classes and a workout planned, I’ll make sure to choose whole grains for longer energy, protein to keep me full, and fruits and veggies to keep me feeling fresh and alert. Don’t skip the pre and post-workout snack, either, to give energy and build muscle!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Take all of the classes!! Exercise is many times a matter of preference, so try everything out and find what suits you!

Rebecca Sussman ’18

What course do you teach?

Zumba

Who is your exercise role model?

An old counselor and mentor of mine, Tamar. She taught cardio, spinning, Zumba and belly dancing all while in college, and her Zumba classes were so intense that the floor would shake!

What do you do to warm up before each class?

Before I do Zumba, I make sure to have an energizing snack. My current favorites are almond butter and bananas on whole grain toast, and carrots & hummus, for the fiber and healthy fats. Then I hydrate and stretch while listening to pump-up music.

Do you feel a rivalry with Freeman Athletic Center?

No. Using a stationary machine or lifting weights is a completely different experience than participating actively in a group class and getting to feed off of the energy and motivation of all of the other people around you who are doing the same routine.

What’s the most rewarding part about being an instructor?

When people who don’t even know what Zumba is tell me they’re excited to take my class and to try it out for the first time.

Could you give us one health tip for the coming semester?

Mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of trying to balance academics, extra-curriculars and a social life, that we forget to keep things in perspective and to make time for ourselves. Focusing on even one aspect of your life that you are grateful for helps to center and ground you.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Take a 20-minute power nap to beat the 3pm slump. Also, green tea. It helps prevent stress and chronic fatigue. When I need a study break, I have an impromptu dance party and do handstands to get my blood flowing.

Come to Zumba, Thursdays at 5:30 in the Fayerweather Theater Room!

Want to know more? Find them on their website.