By Curt Yeomans
Matt Parrot did some push-ups with his hands pressed firmly on a workout bench in a study room at Clayton State University's library before he tried to bench press 220 pounds.
All Parrot had to do was one bench press. He was eager to push his own physical limits. "I never thought I'd be maxing out in the [University Center] library," said Parrot as he lay down on the bench and wrapped his fingers around the bench-press bar.
The health and fitness management professor was participating in a test to see how much weight he could press. His face turned red as he struggled to press the bar above his body.
The test was part of the university's inaugural celebration of National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day on Feb. 22, organized by the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA). The day is designed to celebrate the anniversary of NIRSA's founding in 1950. The day also teaches people there are more ways to stay physically fit, beside working out at a gym all the time.
"The whole day is about people playing," said Cindy Lauer, the director of Clayton State's SmartBodies, the university's workout facility. "People don't realize they are getting exercise, if they are just moving around and doing things like dancing and running. It's the things you used to do when you were in physical education class in elementary school.
"As adults, people think of focused exercise as a structured workout, so we need to get to play again."
In addition to the bench press test, SmartBodies also set up a "Total Gym," which is a board a person lies on while trying to raise up at a 45 degree angle.
A popular activity was "Balance Creek," where students and faculty members had to step from one balance tool, such as small foam blocks and rubber domes, without stepping on the floor. Stepping on the floor was like falling in the water of a creek. Several people tried, but struggled to maintain their balance.
Most dropped a foot in the "water." Several others nearly fell down an adjacent set of stairs.
"It was fun, but I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to do it," said Angelina Hill, 29, a junior nursing major from Thomasville.
Lydia Adkins, a rehabilitation coordinator at SmartBodies, operated "Balance Creek." She said the tests can tell a lot about the condition of a person's body. "Anytime, you have an injury, you loose proprioception, which is your body's awareness that it is losing balance," Adkins said. "We use balance as a way to check your proprioception."
Other areas were set up where people could learn how to properly do a sit-up, or a push-up. These areas were manned by Health and Fitness Management majors. "For my students, it gives them a practical experience to put the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom to work," Parrot said. "For other students, it basically gives them a snapshot of their physical fitness. They can also get recommendations for improvement."
There also were dietitians from Southern Regional Medical Center, and dental students from the university's dental hygiene clinic. Massage therapists from SmartBodies also were on hand to provide free, deep massages. Other activities, such as volleyball games, and hide and seek, were canceled because of the rain.
"It [National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day] kind of lightens the load of a regular day of classes," said Jarvis Watkins, 19, a sophomore English major from Griffin. "It also gets you more involved in campus life, and you get to have fun at the same time."