Shape Up and Wind Down at the Tiernan Field House

“Sometimes during school, I feel like I’m just, you know, an empty shell. So, I go to this because I like to be aware of my body, and remind myself that I like feeling like I’m really in it. And I usually just find myself smiling the whole class.” said Rowen Light-Wills SC '20 after attending kickboxing classes at the Sallie Tiernan Field House.

Tiernan, located at Scripps College, offers a variety of health-related programs in its holistic Health and Wellness program. The program aims to increase general positivity in the lives of students. The kickboxing class that Light-Wills mentions is one of the many activities conducted at the Field House as part of the program. 

The Field House, which harbors a 25 meter pool and all the usual treadmill, elliptical, weight machine and yoga mat paraphernalia of a traditional gymnasium, is often called a student-friendly good-vibe space by Scripps students – not because of the array of equipment it contains, but because of its  activities. Some of the activites are De-Stress Thursdays and Friday Nights at the Fieldhouse, and FitScripps classes that include yoga, meditation, pilates, kickboxing and TRX, swimming soccer, volleyball, and hiking lessons.

“We try to organize our activities so that they together attempt to satisfy the eight types of wellness in the wellness cycle,” says Jennifer Shipley, assistant director of student health and wellness. The eight types, illustrated on flyers that can be found on shelves inside the gym, include physical, emotional, social, financial, economic, occupational, environmental and spiritual wellness. 

“Our FitScripps classes, for example, would satisfy physical wellness, perhaps social wellness if you come for the classes with groups of friends,” said Shipley. “The student facilitated De-Stress Thursdays and Friday Nights at the Field House are catered towards propagating, mental or emotional wellness. Depending on the way people engage with activities, most of these projects can fulfil more than one sphere.”

The Friday night gatherings at Tiernan, which also aim to provide an alternative to people who don’t like parties but want to mingle, usually take place on the second-floor balcony, and serve up some snack. Past activities have included watching movies, decorating mason jars, and other asorted crafts.

“Last week for example, we were just hanging out on the balcony – which is so nice at night – with music and some craft stuff, and it was just a nice thing to do at night,” said Madeleine Edwards SC ‘18, a student organizer of the Friday night events. “And, some of the girls who’ve been there for most of our events, told us that it was the best part of their weekends.”

Edwards added that, even as an organizer, she finds the events have helped her wellness, simply because she enjoys herself.

De-Stress Thursdays, organized by the Peer Health Educators, are explicitly designed to help relaxation. They range from coloring, making DIY slime, creating scent sachets, to learning progressive muscle relaxation. Navi Shah SC ‘20 said, “I go when it’s something that I recognize and know will relax me. One of my favorites was the DIY face-masks.” 

Other FitScripps classes include Pilates, kickboxing, TRX, yoga and meditation, have a similar on positivity.

They range from coloring, making DIY slime, creating scent sachets, to learning progressive muscle relaxation. Navi Shah SC ‘20 said, “I go when it’s something that I recognise and know will relax me. One of my favorites was the DIY face-masks.”

And the FitScripps classes that include Pilates, kickboxing, TRX, yoga and meditation, have a similar on positivity.

Alexi Butts SC ’20, who regularly attends kickboxing, said that she goes because she is able to escape from being responsible for designing her time. “It’s this gap in the day when I’m not controlling the hour. It’s nice to be told what to do, to kind of relax. And it somehow energizes me too. I feel like I could go on a ten-mile run after class, which I could never ever do in my life, by the way.”  

Light-Willis, a spring 2017 pilates regular, who has now started feeling her way into other fitness classes. She adds, “I just go and pretend like I’m beating something. And in the class, the pretending becomes learning not to beat myself up, and I’m happy and letting go of all this frustration.”

The staff at the field house aims to be in conversation with students. Thanks to the surveys that are handed out at events, crafts have become an integral part of their relaxation and mental and emotional health programming.

“We really do want use student voices to help offer wellness to everyone regardless of their different backgrounds,” says Shipley.

Edwards adds, “We do recognize that people attach their own specific histories to gyms, and that it’s more difficult for some people to use the space, but I know it’s an ongoing concern with staff at Tiernan. I hope that the Friday nights at least help people find that this gym doesn’t have to be scary, but can be a safe community space.”