MUSC Wellness Center Overview
Guest: Janis Newton - Education & Student Support/Student Wellness, MUSC
Host: Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatrist, MUSC
Dr. Linda Austin: Janis Newton is Program Director at the MUSC Wellness Center. Janice, let’s talk about the Wellness Center. First of all, who is able to join the center?
Janis Newton: Our primary focus is for students and student life, as well for the faculty, staff, and employees of MUSC. We do have a clinical membership category though. So, people from the community can join through the clinical membership if they have a physician referral.
Dr. Linda Austin: Which is fairly easy to get if you just talk to your doctor about that.
Janis Newton: I don’t know a physician out there that’s not going to promote wellness, and movement, exercise, and good nutrition. So, I would have to say, that it’s pretty easy to get a physician to back you up on that.
Dr. Linda Austin: What are some of the major activity centers at the Wellness Center?
Janis Newton: We have a huge facility. We’re so fortunate to have this kind of facility on campus. We have two different workout areas. We have a gymnasium; an indoor track, an outdoor track, and swimming pool. We have racquetball courts, and tennis court. We have so much to offer, and so many cross training opportunities, in the Wellness Center.
We’ve really tried to focus on programs, in the last couple years, that offer a variety of activities for members. So, our facility includes the swimming pool, indoor track, outdoor track, racquetball courts, tennis court, activity room, and group exercise. So, there’s a little bit for everybody. The programs focus on helping people with accountability and camaraderie. These are things that we’ve found to be important for adherence to exercise.
Dr. Linda Austin: Let’s talk about some of the exercise classes you have. What are some examples? I know there are many, and we’ll miss some, but what are some of the classes you offer?
Janis Newton: Group exercise classes, we have over 60 per week. And we have the traditional classes that you think of, like low-impact, and step class. But we also have an entire dance division with Zumba, which is kind of a new dance class that we offer now. And then we also have our hip hop and our ballet. We also have Tae Bo, which is very popular, especially with the students. That’s considered more martial arts fitness. And we have yoga, and Pilates. We have a little bit of everything in the group exercise class.
For some people, group exercise is great for adherence. They love the music. They love to exercise with a group of people. They don’t have to think. They come in. The instructor warms them up, takes them through the workout, cools them down, stretches them out, and they can leave, having a complete workout. The group exercise is an important part of any facility.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, how about somebody who wants an individual program?
Janis Newton: We have a personal training program, and a director of personal training. You go to the director. They ask you a few questions, place you with a trainer that meets you needs; both what you need physically, as well your personality. So, the group training program, you can do small group training, or you can do individual; one-on-one, training. But we do offer that as a service.
Dr. Linda Austin: How about for seniors?
Janis Newton: We have two really good seniors programs. One is called Karen’s Class. It’s like a group exercise class. Karen is an expert in senior fitness. And, when we say seniors, this class, really, anybody over 55; not to offend anybody that’s 55 and doesn’t think they’re a senior, is a developmental for 55+ program. It’s not easy. Just because you call it seniors, it’s not easy. It includes every single component of fitness that you need in the aging process. Then we have our stay fit program, which is a very successful program. We have instructors that include the components of fitness; strength, cardiovascular, fitness. Each day of the week, we have a seniors program to choose from.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, in another podcast, we’re going to be talking about the summer program for kids. But, in the regular year-round programs, how old do you have to be to be a member of the Wellness Center?
Janis Newton: Eighteen. We do have summer student memberships for 15 to 17-year-olds. The summer camps, now, we have four different categories, and we take children as young as three years old in our young division. The summer camps are really popular for the kids. Year-round, it’s typically 18 and older working out at the Wellness Center.
Dr. Linda Austin: The pool is absolutely magnificent. Tell us about some of the swimming activities.
Janis Newton: We have the water aerobics classes that you see at all pools. The pool is gorgeous, and it’s kept at a perfect temperature year-round. We have a lot of people that come and do the lane swimming. We always have lanes open for individual swim. We have a lot of activities that go on in the pool. We have a triathlon training program with swim clinics, so you can improve your stroke. We have swim lessons for all ages. We have children swim lessons, and adult swim lessons.
Dr. Linda Austin: Do you have a tennis program?
Janis Newton: Ben Simon is our tennis pro. He is an excellent player and, really, can help you improve if you already play tennis. If you’ve never played tennis, you’re going to love to learn from Ben Simon in the tennis program. The tennis court is on the roof, with a gorgeous view. It overlooks MUSC campus. We have a very good tennis program.
Dr. Linda Austin: As well as racquetball?
Janis Newton: Racquetball, we have two racquetball pros that offer clinics throughout the year, and have round robins.
Every part of our facility has been developed into an area where you can learn if you’ve never done the activity. Or, if you’re already proficient at a court sport, or swimming, or wherever you want to improve your skills, we have pros, and instructors, that can help you.
Dr. Linda Austin: And, last, but certainly not least, Boot Camp? Tell us about Boot Camp.
Janis Newton: That is very popular. Believe it or not, people love to come and have Marines yell at them at 6:00 in the morning. It’s very unique. We’re just now starting an evening program that we’ve never had before. We’re going to limit it at first. Anybody that’s interested, please come and sign up. It’s going to be on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
But, typically, at 6:00 in the morning, and the camaraderie; the don’t leave your partner behind mentality, really does work for a lot of people. We have all ages, all fitness levels. And, the Marines are so inspiring. People do multiple boot camps. They come back for more. It’s, pretty much, a military style exercise class. They do calisthenics. They do a lot of running. They pretest. They post-test. We have a graduation. We give most improved awards. And, I don’t think anybody ever goes through a boot camp without leaving the program learning about themselves, and improving self efficacy as well as fitness.
Dr. Linda Austin: Now, I saw a poster for wedding boot camp. What is that about?
Janis Newton: That was a great program. We’ve already finished our first session. Bridal Boot Camp. Again, we use the Marines. We have a good thing going. Marines are very inspirational, and get more out of people than others. So, we had a trainer, and the brides to be worked out with the Marines once a week. And then they had their own personal fitness trainer that did nutrition with them and tried to teach them lifestyle skills; both in nutrition and exercise, as well as stress relief and sleep patterns, that they could carry through a lifetime and help their family.
Dr. Linda Austin: Janis, I know you’ve been with the Wellness Center for many years. How many years altogether, now?
Janis Newton: It will be 20 years this fall.
Dr. Linda Austin: Wow.
Janis Newton: Yes.
Dr. Linda Austin: Very exciting. What are you most proud of at the Wellness Center?
Janis Newton: I can see that the student involvement at the Wellness Center, now, truly impacts their student life, and their success in all areas; their learning, their stress release, their sleep, their fitness level. And I love it when I know that students that enter MUSC leave with a complete education and life skills. And I know the Wellness Center does contribute to that. When I first started the Wellness Center, the students didn’t really use it that much. Now, the students are there. They interact with each other. They work out. They challenge themselves physically; which I think helps to challenge them mentally, and I’m really proud of that. I really love that.
Dr. Linda Austin: Is there a charge for students?
Janis Newton: No. We use part of their student activity fee. That comes with their student life.
Dr. Linda Austin: Very wonderful. Congratulations on a great program.
Janis Newton: Thank you.