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Parks ’15 starts “fitness buddies” program to promote exercise among students

The Peer Health Adviser program partnered with Campus Recreation to start a new initiative called Princeton Fitness Buddies earlier this month. The program is aimed at students who want to try new kinds of exercise but may feel intimidated or may not know how to do so.

Students can sign up for the program by filling out a form in which they indicate exercising preferences, and they will then be paired with another student who has similar interests.

Started by Rachel Parks ’15, the program is funded through a mini-grant that University Health Services awarded her. The grant, which was implemented beginning in the fall of 2012, is awarded to peer health advisers to help them address health areas that they may be passionate about.

Parks said she came up with the idea as the deadline for applying for the grant was approaching, and she connected with Coordinator of Recreational Programming Kara Nitti to work out logistics.

“My goal would be to help people take advantage of the resources that are already there, that they may feel intimidated about, may not know how to access or may not know how to do by themselves,” Parks said. “Once paired with someone else, they would be less intimidated to find information for themselves.”

Health Educator Kathy Wagner said she viewed the program as an excellent way to help people exercise more, noting that people are more likely to do physical activity if they have a friend to do it with.

According to Parks, 80 students have signed up for the program as of Wednesday morning. The first 50 students either received a free Dillon fitness class with their buddy or a Princeton frisbee. Everyone else who signed up was entered into a raffle to win prizes, including punch cards and Princeton fitness gear.

Parks is using the funds from the mini-grant to cover the costs of free passes for the classes at Dillon Gym, the prizes for the first 50 students and the punch cards to be raffled.

“My original vision was for the program to be just during the month of April, but people have been really excited about it,” Parks said.

Dee Luo ’16 said she had not heard of the program but added that she would consider signing up for it.

“I think it’s a fun way to motivate people to work out,” she said. “I should be going to the gym more, so this could be a fun way to do it.”

Zinna Senbetta ’17 said the program sounded like an interesting idea and said she was surprised by the number of students who haven’t been to the gym. She added that she considers herself pretty self-sufficient when it comes to exercising and has her own habits, but said she considered joining the group.

Parks said she is currently trying to work with Wagner and Campus Recreation to extend the program.

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