Why Cal Poly is a Good Fit(ness) for Active Students

Many know San Luis Obispo to be the happiest city in America, but did you know it’s also one of the fittest?

A 2016 Gallup-Sharecare poll listed San Luis Obispo as being the third fittest city in America. The Cal Poly campus is close to many hiking trails, healthy dining options and surfable beaches, promoting an active lifestyle.

For aerospace engineering freshman Kellen Andrew, the campus’ location played a large role in his decision to attend Cal Poly.

“There aren’t many colleges where you can spend time outdoors almost year round. That is what really motivates me to exercise as often as I do,” said Andrew.

An avid cycler and rock climber, Andrew says he’s lucky to have trails such as Poly Canyon and West Cuesta Grande in his own backyard.

“I can hop on my mountain bike, be on the trails in a couple minutes, go for a seven-mile ride,and come back an hour and a half later,” said Andrew. “That makes it so easy to get a good ride in before or even in between classes.”

In addition to the vast number of trails around the campus, student’s complete hikes daily, whether realizing it or not, due to the steep nature/hills that the campus rests on. In order to get from class to class, students are forced to trek up and down the many hills on campus. The involuntary hikes across campus led many of the students to coin the term “Cal Poly Calves” which now has its own Instagram account dedicated to photos of students’ muscular legs.

Though the school had already been known for its active students and faculty, the campus’ reputation heightened in 2012 after the renovation of the Recreation Center, aka “The Rec”. Equipped with state of the art basketball courts, cardio machines, weight-lifting areas, sand volleyball courts, two pools, and an outdoor rockwall, the $72 million facility draws in about 6,000 entries a day from students, faculty, and other members of the SLO community.

“I try to utilize The Rec as much as I can while I’m here. Between using my favorite machines and taking classes in the studios, I always have a reason to check in everyday,” said economics freshman Danica Bastress.

Besides just weights and treadmills, The Rec offers more diverse ways to approach fitness, allowing students to figure out what forms of exercise works best for them. It offers an array of classes, ranging from spin to krav maga.

This is especially helpful for students who enjoy cross-training like child development freshman Zoi Marcopolis who takes a range of classes from hip hop to pilates.

“I love that The Rec offers so many different types of exercise because it gives me many options and allows me to specialize my workouts more,” said Marcopolis. “I have tried several new workouts that I have really enjoyed.”

Thanks to the wide array of exercise options provided to students, the gym is arguably the most social spot on campus any given weeknight. The Rec provides students with study spaces inside the facility as well as bean bags to nap on, where many students crash between class and workouts. The majority of student jobs are employed through Associated Students Inc. (ASI) working The Rec center, reaffirming the gym as a large part of student life.

Although The Rec is an impressive facility, the fitness culture at Cal Poly continues to span across all mediums of exercise.

“SLO does an amazing job supporting all of my passions and in my opinion, it’s one of the sickest locations for active college students,” said Andrew.

While the rigor of college can allow a gym regimen to be pushed to the side, making time to stay active helps relieve stress.

“If you balance working out and schoolwork, the refreshed feeling you get after a workout will give you the energy to focus on your academics,” said Bastress. “Once you get into the groove it’s a positive cycle that improves your mental and physical health, in addition to your gpa.”

Whether you’re an ex-high school athlete or simply trying to avoid the dreaded “freshman fifteen”, the positive endorphins gained through staying active helps students in the high stress environments of college. Nature lovers or a gym rats alike, there’s a place for you to be active on Cal Poly’s campus.

David Holmes / Flickr

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