Those who have been through college understand the threat that is posed when deadlines, high stress levels and a limited cafeteria menu combine.

But when the going gets tough, instead of turning to food or crying silently into a textbook, Douglas College student Leanne Humphrey hits the gym — one of two fitness centres and countless fitness programs offered free of charge to students and staff at the institution.

“I encourage people to come into the gym because I find that during the semester, with all the work load, it’s really nice to get that out and relieve your stress,” said the sport science student, who does weights and cardio three times a week in addition to other outside activity. “It keeps everything functioning properly, like your brain works better and you can go longer. It is a really good, helpful tool in the studying aspect.”

Dean Howie, director of recreation, athletics and campus life at Douglas College, adds that there are other benefits in addition to physical fitness and stress relief.

“It’s evident from all the research and surveys that the more a student makes an attachment at any institution, or feels a sense of belonging, they become more highly motivated and their chances of success are a lot more,” he said. “This is an opportunity for students and staff to make a connection outside of the classroom, make friends and a social network.”

There are fitness centres at both the David Lam campus (at the Pinetree Community Centre) and the New Westminster campus (at the Chris Johnson Centre). The Chris Johnson fitness centre will be renovated this summer to include a second multi-purpose room and expand the existing weight room.

The college also offers numerous fitness programs, including several types of aerobics, social dance, martial arts and yoga.

All coaches are employees of the college who have gone through certification courses. In addition, the college’s sport science program — the one Leanne Humphrey is taking — produces future physical education teachers, coaches and fitness trainers.

“We’re able to tap into the resources that are available at our college through our academic world and combine them with what takes place in (our fitness programs),” said Howie.

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