Gym: Off limits

By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

Today, 64 percent of Americans 20 years and older are overweight. This means that nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population suffers from the adverse effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. In other words, of the approximately 31,000 students at RCC 19,840 could be at greater risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Why, then, don’t RCC students have easy access to the fitness and free-weight rooms?

In order to use the fitness and free-weight rooms one must be enrolled in either PHP-A81 or PHP-A90. However, these classes only meet twice a week for an hour and a half or three times a week for an hour. But to achieve the dual goals of weight loss and gaining muscle tone the U.S. surgeon general recommends an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minute workout three times a week. It’s obvious that PHP-A81 and PHP-A90 can’t possibly meet the health needs of students. So why can’t the hardworking students of RCC pursue improving their health and well being when their schedules allow?

The answer is not as simple as pointing a finger at the administration of RCC or the Physical Education Department. It involves a number of factors including the apathetic attitude of Americans towards their health, funding and facilities.

Americans are apathetic about their health because of the emphasis society places on beauty. Less than 1 percent of the population actually achieves the highest standards of beauty established by society with the help of surgery. Thus, many Americans simply don’t take an interest in enhancing their health and well being, because the chances of attaining stereotypical beauty are slim to none.

Physical fitness is not about beauty. It’s about the sense of well being that comes most readily from exercise. The founders of Western thought and our education system viewed participation in sport as an activity that educated, enriched and emancipated the soul. In fact, Plato believed that sport is the “twin sister” of the arts for cultivation of the soul and the harmonizing of body and mind. But the emphasis Americans place on physical beauty detracts from sport’s true power, the power to intensify experience and awaken within us a larger sense of being. So all RCC students we challenge you to run longer, lift harder, and swim faster not for the outward benefits, but rather for the fruition of your souls.

If young Americans do not change their attitude toward exercise, then those in positions of power, such as the administration of RCC, will not change theirs. Recently, RCC administrators debated eliminating the two-unit physical education requirement from the associate degree. This change would essentially eliminate the Physical Education Department, which relies heavily on enrollment in its physical fitness and weight training classes for its funding. Although the administration’s actions reflect the attitude of many students, we call on them to act as our guides into the future. Administrators, show a greater concern for the health and well being of RCC students by supporting the efforts of the Physical Education Department to meet students’ needs.

The student activities fee provides students with barbecues, movie discounts and entrance to home games, but not to the fitness and free-weight rooms. The health of RCC students is certainly more important than hot dogs or discount tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm. The theater, marching band and vocal music programs are also all heavily supported by our $10; why not the Physical Education Department, too? If the administration embraced the philosophies of Plato, then perhaps they would use part of our $10 (that’s an estimated $513,000 this year) to hire and train supervisors for the fitness rooms. Then RCC students would have supervised access to the fitness and free-weight rooms (which addresses liability issues), as well as classes where they can receive instruction on fitness issues.

The final barrier to easier access for students to the fitness rooms is the facilities themselves. The fitness and free-weight rooms have a wide array of cardio and strength training equipment, (though both are in need of modernization); together they can accommodate only about 100 persons. However, $16,500 of the $350 million Measure C bond is allotted to the Physical Education Department for the development of its facilities. But this seems a meager sum when a single treadmill costs roughly $5,500. We hope that RCC administrators will reevaluate its de-emphasis of physical education and show a greater commitment to the health of students by supplying the Physical Education Department with the funds it needs to improve the fitness rooms.

So fellow RCC students, sign up for physical education classes such as PHP-A81 or PHP-A90. Take an interest in improving your health and well being not for the sake of beauty, but rather for the sake of your soul. The Physical Education Department is flexible and more than willing to try to meet the needs of a busy student population. Besides, at $26 per unit you get 15 weeks of gym time, a savings of at least $100 if you enrolled at a local health club. And RCC administrators, help change the path Americans are following. Support the Physical Education Department and lead Americans towards a healthier and happier future.