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Dartmouth News
>  News Releases >   2003 >   February

FLIPping for fitness

Posted 02/14/03, by Anita Warren

An estimated 1,200–1,500 people sign up for FLIP classes each year
Dartmouth's fitness and lifestyle improvement program is open to everyone

Getting fit is arguably Americans' number one resolution as each new year dawns. In the Upper Valley, Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff as well as residents of neighboring towns can firm up their resolve year-round at the College's FLIP classes.

FLIP, which stands for fitness and lifestyle improvement program, began in the mid-1980s as an opportunity for employees to get involved in fitness and health activities. Over the years, it has grown to include undergraduate and graduate students, their partners, and the general public. Today an estimated 1,200–1,500 people, ranging from teenagers to octogenarians, sign up for FLIP classes each year, according to program coordinator Hugh Mellert.

Mellert estimates that on average one-third of the enrollees are students, one-third faculty/staff, and one-third community members, although winter classes do see a heavier percentage of students enrolled. Students receive one course credit for each FLIP course they take. Three successfully completed FLIP courses fulfill the graduation requirement of three PE credits. But many students take FLIP classes simply for fun and exercise.

More than 40 different types of activities are offered each term. The winter schedule includes classes in snowshoe hiking, body sculpting, Irish step dance, and seven levels of yoga, reflecting a recent surge in yoga's popularity. "Whatever fitness interest someone has, there's a program to match it," says Mellert. "The most popular classes are now cardio kickboxing. Five years ago, step aerobics was the big thing. Now we have only two step classes." He has been trying for months to satisfy public demand for Pilates, an aerobics workout program, but has yet to find a qualified instructor.

The toughest part of his job, Mellert says, is trying to line up instructors with particular skills who can teach around participants' work and classroom schedules. He sometimes recruits students to teach classes, particularly in strength training, cardio kickboxing, power pacing (stationary bicycling), and step aerobics. But increasing demand for more programs and greater variety will continue to make logistics a challenge. "We're the one place on campus everyone can come to for fitness programs," he notes.

-Anita Warren

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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