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West campus fitness center flexes muscles, introduces new programs

September 08, 2010

Seek and you shall receive. That’s the message Keith Munson is sending to ASU's West campus community. Make a wish reality. That’s what Munson and his staff at the Diablo Performance Recreation Center are doing.

“Our members are our greatest resource,” said Munson, director of the campus fitness center. “They provide us with direction, they keep us up to date, and generally shape the success of the center.”

The center has recently unveiled a series of offerings under the “Sun Devil Mind/Body” banner, designed to answer the demand for additional group exercise opportunities that include yoga; Zumba; belly dance; and cardio, strength and abdominal exercises.

“These opportunities have been requested by our students, have been considered by our own Recreation Advisory Board that is made up of students,” Munson said. “We have moved forward, knowing that exercise, fitness and competition are important to those utilizing our facilities and participating in the many programs we offer. We talk about 'finding your fitness' here, and we're committed to helping students, faculty and staff in the pursuit of good health.

“All courses involve a process from beginning to end, so no experience is required.”

Three of the session already are under way: yoga, 12-1 p.m., Thursdays; cardio, strength and abs, 12-1 p.m., Fridays; and Zumba, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Tuesdays. Zumba will also be offered from 6:45-7:45 p.m., on Mondays beginning Sept. 13, while belly dance from 6-7 p.m., on Wednesdays begins Sept. 8. All classes are held in the fitness center, located on the lower level of the University Center Building (UCB, B-119).

Zumba has taken the fitness world by storm. Introduced in Colombia in the 1990s, the exercise program combines Latin and international music with dance, and classes are now offered in more 60,000 fitness centers in more than 100 countries to 7.5 million participants.

“Zumba was the number one course requested by our students, so now we’re not only offering it, but we’re doubling the availability," Munson said. “The exercise is really quite unique, with specific beats and tempo changes so the workout transitions from one toning, strengthening or cardio move to another. Zumba zeroes in on every major muscle group in the body.”

Belly dance, which may have its roots in ancient Arab tribal religions, is a non-impact, weight-bearing exercise that can improve the body’s core strength, muscle coordination and balance. Instructor Sue LaFond, who has taught and performed across the Valley and in nearby Sedona, is an academic success coordinator in the West campus-based New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Munson said the cardio, strength and abs course is a popular group fitness exercise because it engages all aspects of overall human fitness – 20-minute cardio exercise, 20-minute strength conditioning, and 20-minute abdominal exercise.

“Cardio increases the heart rate and blood flow, which in turn provides oxygen to the body in a more efficient manner,” he said. “Strength improves because the oxygen-rich blood flows to the different muscles and muscle groups that are engaged in the strength session.

“The abdominal core strength exercises help develop the trunk muscles, which is important because we use these muscles quite a bit throughout the day. Most people want the ‘six-pack’ abs, not the ‘keg’”

In addition to the Sun Devil Mind/Body series of group exercises, the fitness center is preparing for a full semester of intramurals, including softball, flag football, bowling and an “Enduro-Devil” endurance and strength competition.

For a full list of fitness center opportunities, intramurals, tournaments and amenities available at the 6,000-square-foot facility, visit or call 602-543-3488.