• Sophia Apteker

Need to De-Stress? Take Fitness Instructor Tara’s Classes for a Spin

It’s a Saturday evening in Amherst and the waning light brings a warm glow to Room 121 of the Campus Recreation Center. When Tara enters the room, a junior biology major on the pre-PA track who started teaching rec spin just this semester, the energy only increases.

She is cool and confident in her spin classes now, but it wasn’t always this way.

During the first week of her freshman fall, Tara attended her first spin class. Alone. It wasn’t that she wanted to go by herself, but rather, her newfound friends had bailed at the last minute.

Undeterred by their decisions, Tara persisted, setting off to try something new. When she arrived at the Rec Center that day, solo and increasingly anxious, she was met with a singular open bike. In the front row. For her first class. Nothing seemed to be working in her favor, and she honestly wanted to leave before the class even began.

But when the class got going, her attitude switched entirely.

“The second [the instructor] turned the colorful lights on and started just talking, the whole atmosphere was so comfortable,” Tara recalled. “I just never felt so comfortable in an environment like that. In my whole life, I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling of such community in one room.”

In her own classes, Tara strives to replicate that soothing ambiance, especially through music. On Tuesdays at 7 a.m., her playlists have more of a chill vibe (think: “La Di Da — Aaron Redding Remix” by Lennon Stella). Meanwhile, on Saturdays at 4 p.m., her playlists have significantly higher energy (think: “Magic” by B.o.B. feat. Rivers Cuomo).

It was a huge leap to go from attending spin to teaching it, but Tara had support from her former roommate, Emily, to push her along in making that decision.

“She really just helped me gain confidence and piece through the pros and cons,” Tara said. “She definitely gave me the encouragement that I needed, and without her I don’t know if I would have applied for the position.”

Around the same time, she went to a spin class where the instructor, Ashley, told the class that if they were looking for a sign to do something, this was it.

“I was like, ‘I’m looking for a sign to do something!’” Tara laughed.

Now, Tara is also motivated by her roommate Dasha, who she bubbly refers to as “the most incredible person ever.”

“I watched her as a person and was like, ‘She can do all this stuff,’” Tara gushed. “I want to be like that. So then I just put it into action.”

Even though Tara has a strong support system and stays on top of her physical fitness, there are times where she does struggle a bit with staying healthy, specifically when it comes to getting enough sleep, eating well, and knowing when to stop the “go, go, go” regimen that college students have become so accustomed to.

After all, college students have so much on their plates, especially with academics and extracurriculars. While physical fitness can’t solve everything, it can certainly be a step in the right direction to help someone de-stress and feel supported by others.

“If you’re ever having a bad day or just going through a rough time and you need an outlet, my number one place to go is a group fitness class,” Tara said. “No matter what class it is, there’s no judgment ever in the room, there’s always a sense of community, and you will be totally accepted and taken in.”

For the rest of the fall semester, Tara will teach spin at the Campus Recreation Center on Tuesday at 7 a.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. You can register for a class with her through IMLeagues.

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