Sweet sweat: student teaches group exercise

Posted on: 2/20/2014; Updated on: 2/20/2014
By Marcie Nelson

Looking for something new this year? Try group exercise classes at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center. Ali Herlong, a junior advertising major with a minor in hotel, restaurant and tourism management, teaches Zumba at 8:30 a.m., Monday and Wednesday, and Bodypump at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

What sparked your interested in teaching group exercise classes?

My senior year of high school, I started taking Zumba classes at my local gym and fell in love. Zumba was this amazing combination of dance and fitness that self-proclaimed “nondancers” could follow easily. The energy of the class, the music and how quickly the workout flew by got me hooked. I got my license the summer before my freshman year and I taught my first class on my first day of college academic classes. I now have my Zumba, Bodypump and AFAA group fitness certifications.

Why is being fit important to you?

To be honest, when I first started teaching, a lot of my focus was on reaching a certain number on the scale, but that changed as I became more aware of what “eating to fuel” my body meant as well as having a healthy relationship with food and exercise.

Do participants have to be at a certain fitness level to attend your classes?

Absolutely not. Don’t get me wrong, my class is not easy but the only requirement I have is to be at a level of thinking that is confident, willing to give your all and not give up after just one class.

What if participants are “rhythmically challenged”? Will they feel out of place?

The movements repeat themselves and my class has a lot of easy to follow fitness moves you would find in any other exercise format. I show modifications for those who claim they are uncoordinated and usually after a class or two, even the “rhythmically challenged” fall right into sync with the rest of the class.

What benefits can be derived from participating in your classes?

A lot of people do not know that Zumba is interval training and interval training is one of the biggest trends in fitness right now. Bodypump uses the “rep effect,” maximizing the workout intensity through hundreds of repetitions for each muscle group, which pushes participants way beyond what they would do in the weight room. More endurance in other physical activity comes as a result of my classes as well as total body toning. Mentally, it teaches you to be confident, be patient and hold yourself accountable.

Is there anything else you would like the USC community to know?

Yes! Group exercise at USC is an amazing opportunity. For $20, you have unlimited access to over 70 classes every week, where almost every format is offered daily and at multiple times adjusting to almost everyone’s schedule. If you compare our services to others in the area, there is no competition. We have talented and passionate instructors, awesome equipment and beautiful facilities all available to you at an extremely low cost. I tell people a group fitness pass is the best deal in Columbia and I mean it.


Learn more

The Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center hosts a variety of group exercise classes.


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