CM-YOU Fitness Challenge encourages healthy lifestyle

CM-YOU Fitness Challenge  encourages healthy lifestyle (credit: Juan Fernandez/) CM-YOU Fitness Challenge encourages healthy lifestyle (credit: Juan Fernandez/)

This year’s Fitness Challenge — an annual event held by the Department of Athletics to encourage campus members to exercise at least 20 minutes, four days a week — begins this Monday.

This year’s theme, entitled “CM-YOU,” emphasizes Carnegie Mellon’s global presence. “We want to raise awareness of Carnegie Mellon’s global degree programs in other countries,” said Pattye Stragar, the event’s organizer and operations manager for Fitness and Aquatics.

After signing up for the Fitness Challenge, participants pick a country, and every 20 minutes of exercise scores a point for that country. Each country’s score is tracked on a map in front of the University Center fitness desk, and at the end of the six-week event, the people on the team of the country with the most points win. “For example, if I take an hour Zumba class and I’m on Team Qatar, I’ll color in three squares on the map for Qatar,” Stragar explained.

The CM-YOU Fitness Challenge will also encourage physical activity through lectures from local fitness experts, raffles, and a 5k run at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This year, Stragar wants to especially target undergraduate students who don’t regularly exercise due to heavy school workloads. To do this, the Department of Athletics is partnering with the student-run ENACTUS Healthy Lifestyles Initiatives Project to help plan the CM-YOU Fitness Challenge.

“I want to incorporate their perspectives as undergraduates, and in general, students are more receptive when approached by someone their own age,” Stragar said.

On their part, the Health Lifestyles Initiatives project leaders — sophomore business administration major Alice Ye, sophomore biomedical and chemical engineering double major Kristina Jang, senior psychology major Michael Kashaf, and senior biomedical and chemical engineering double major Sara Kashaf — are addressing concerns about students’ workload.

“We get it,” Jang said. “We are always swamped in work at Carnegie Mellon, so people will push health to the side to focus on schoolwork. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

To fit many students’ busy schedules, the CM-YOU Fitness Challenge this year is offering “Minor,” “Major,” and “Double Major” levels of fitness goals. “For the students who are overloading or double majoring, we have the Minor, which is one to two days a week ... because we do recognize that you don’t have much time,” Ye said.

Although students can sign up for the Minor option, the project leaders recommend that students taking a regular course load should find time in their schedules for the Major option, which entails the Department of Athletics’ goal of four days of exercise.
To do thiconvince studentsitiatives project is positing exercise as a way to manage stress.

“We want to change the coping mechanisms people have for their workloads. If you have a lot of work or stress, you tend to snack or just crash, so what we are trying to do is replace those bad habits with good ones,” Kashaf explained.

Students can register at the University Center equipment desk.