By Curt Yeomans
Screams of "Come on!" "Give me one more!" and "You can do it!" were heard across the basketball court of Clayton State University's Student Activities Center Tuesday.
More than two dozen of the school's students, and employees, tested their physical limits at the university's second annual National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day celebration. The celebration is tied to the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association's fitness day, which was Sunday. Clayton State officials held their celebration late because there were no classes in session on the day of the national event.
The purpose of the celebration is to raise awareness of fitness, said Cindy Lauer, Clayton State's director of recreation and wellness.
"Our motto is 'Let's be active,'" Lauer said. "Basically we are saying, 'It doesn't matter what you do, do something.' That means anything that gets your heart rate going."
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends Americans get 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days a week. The group says modest amounts of physical activity can improve cardio-respiratory health.
The activities Clayton State officials incorporated into their National Recreational Sports and Fitness Day celebration included fitness competitions, free health screenings, and sports like basketball, volleyball, badminton, and dodge ball.
The fitness competitions included a bench press contest in which participants were judged on how much they can lift, relative to how much they weigh. Late in the competition, Ashley Edwards, a junior from Hampton, was leading the women's field by lifting 125 pounds. Lauer said official results will not be available for a few days.
"I did it last year, and won, so I wanted to see how I could do this year," Edwards said. "I'm actually a little disappointed because I think I went down a couple of pounds from last year. I think I lifted 130-135 pounds last year."
Another competition was the "Total Gym Pull Up contest" in which participants laid at an angle and tried to lift 60 percent of their body weight. After Fareed Greene, a junior from College Park, did more than 30 pull ups, he turned and looked at the pull-up apparatus. He said, "You can really feel it. It's a beast."
The third, and final, competition was "Balance Creek" in which contestants race across a U-shaped obstacle course filled with foam, gel, and air-filled balancing devices.
"I think that was the funniest event because I'm fast, but I don't know ... It's not just about speed," said Iesha Little, a freshman from Augusta. "It's about how well you can balance yourself."
Lauer said it is important to educate people about fitness and exercise during their college years, because it is typically harder for people to adopt healthier lifestyles later in life.
"It's important because it establishes what they will do for the rest of their lives," Lauer said. "People who are active during their late teens, and early 20s, are more apt to keep it up throughout their lives. This is like our last-ditch effort to get them to adopt a healthy lifestyle."
Angel Kalinov, a senior from Sandanski, Bulgaria, said he prefers to live a healthy lifestyle, filled with fitness activities, because he does some modeling, plays forward for Clayton State's soccer team, and he wants to be healthy.
"I want to feel good and look good," Kalinov said. "I don't follow strict diets, but I try to stay healthy... I just try to eat foods that are high in protein at night, and lots of [carbohydrates] during the day. You need the protein for your muscles, and the carbs give you energy to make it through the day."
When the fitness competitions ended, Kalinov, who was the overall fitness champion last year, hugged Lauer and thanked her for holding the fitness celebration.
"This woman is the best," Kalinov said.