The Poker Walk Returns!

mainpicEmployee engagement and exercise are two activities that are valuable within the workplace. In honor of Employee National Health and Fitness month, Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being (Rec Well) hosted the 8th Annual Poker Walk, an event that aims at adding exercise into the day in addition to connecting staff with one another and the beautiful campus.


According to Stephanie Willis, event organizer, this event was created with the intention to promote employee engagement across department units. Brelanda Pirani, from Budget and Financial Planning, claims “this event is an opportunity for team building,” and parallels the saying “we are only as strong as our weakest point.” Oakland employees have a strong bond and sense of community because of events like the Poker Walk.

This May, more than 400 staff and faculty registered for the walk with their department. Traditionally, each team has the option to choose a creative team name and dress up in different costumes to make this a unique experience.IMG_0598

The First Year Advising Center (FYAC), or “The Price Is Right” team stated, “our favorite part about coming to this event each is year is seeing staff show up with creative costumes.” Over 50 different teams dressed up ranging from “Global Engagement Rings” to “CAS Care Bears”, all walking around campus in costume. The energetic atmosphere even allows for other employees to tag along and join the walk.

After an invigorating kick-off speech from Vice President of Student Affairs, Glenn McIntosh, employees embarked on the 1.5 mile route. Teams took advantage of the “photo op” spots in front of the Grizz statue, the Grizz Head at the RAOC, and the Saints and Sinners Fountain. Foundations and groups such as the American Heart Association, Biggby Coffee, Carrot Pass, and Hanson’s Running shop handed participants poker chips for prizes.

IMG_0603After the scenic route was completed teams made their way back to the Recreation Center in order to place their bets with their chips they collected on the walk, mingle with other staff and faculty, grab refreshments and food, dance with Grizz, and get the chance to win some fun prizes! Employees have the opportunity to connect with other staff members they don’t normally see on a daily basis, laughing and joking about their creative costume ideas, and making time to get some fresh air together on a beautiful day.

Oakland University strives to have a positive community culture with their employees. Employees are encouraged to be involved on campus, make healthy decisions, and stay connected with the staff and faculty they are surrounded by. This event is a great example of how the University promotes these values and the employees recognize and are thankful for these special events.


Employee Spotlight: Keelan Horton

Employee Spot Light (Keelan Horton)

Keelan is one of our intramural sports supervisors who helps facilitate and monitor the sport games taking place during the week. “She is an employee who always shows up to work with a smile on her face” states Lindsey Hyatt. Keelan has also done her job in a professional manner. IM Sports can get pretty hectic and competitive and she has had to deal with some tough situations this past month. Nevertheless, this employee has made sure to be professional, document any incidents correctly, and resolve the issues in a positive manner.

Why did you want to work at the Rec?

I wanted to work at the Rec because I wanted a job on campus that was fun, easy to walk to, and involved people interaction. I also thought the Rec would be a good way to motivate me to stay in shape.

What is your favorite part about working here?

Working specifically for Intramural sports department has given me long last friendships both with my coworkers and even some of the IM players. I love that our staff makes our own teams for the IM leagues so we can play and laugh together at ourselves outside of staff trainings and our work shifts.

When you’re not at the Rec, what are some things you like to do?

When I’m not at the Rec I like to go bike riding, take a lot of naps, or meet up with friends to either do homework or just hang out.

What fuels your shift? (music, food, people, etc.)

The people definitely fuel my shift. Each game you have during your shift creates different moods and you meet a lot of different people. I also look forward to seeing which coworkers are working during the same shift as mine.

What are you looking forward to?

As a junior currently I am also looking forward to graduation next spring. I see it as terrifyingly exciting. It’s another step towards adulthood…but another milestone under my belt.

What are your plans for the future?

After graduating with a Bachelors in Psychology, I plan to go to graduate school at Michigan State University for Industrial Organizational Psychology. I more than likely will be trying to get my foot in the door at some in-state or out-of-state companies after graduating.

Name your top 3 workout songs

My top 3 workout songs would be:

  • Immortals by Fall Out Boy
  • It’s Time by Imagine Dragons
  • The entire Lion King movie soundtrack

What is your best tip for health and wellness?

My best tip for health and wellness is to take time for a nap once in a while and that exercising is easy if you can get your friends to participate with you.

Fun Fact:

My fun fact would be that I’ve been to Australia with a group called “People to People” Student Ambassadors. It was a 17-day trip that included traveling to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, and a two-day home stay.

IM Sports Brings Campus Groups Together


Finding community within a college setting can bring unexpected joy to your collegiate experience. While you go through your day sitting next to the same classmates, or working on campus with the same team, why not do something different, together? There are a lot of ways to get yourself or a group involved on campus. One particular way is to join an intramural (IM) sports league and create a personalized team with your friends! Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being (Rec Well) has all types of groups consisting of mostly students and some professional staff members that come together during the week to both socialize and get exercise in a fun manner. Rec Well welcomes any student, staff member, or community member to participate in IM sports and encourages unique groups to join together and participate.

A group of second year medical students, or “M2’s”, have been playing IM basketball together for the last two years. Allyson Dimagno, one of the players shares, “since life can get a little stressful, we made our team, “Future MD’s for 3”, as a way to get together as classmates and do something beyond schoolwork.” These students believe having the opportunity to get together and play sports they enjoyed in high school has been a really great outlet for their academic stress.

Rec Well has also seen an increase in the number of students who live on campus participating in IM sports. “The Untouchaballs” is a team that was created back in fall 2014, by a group of students who lived on the same floor in West Vandenberg Hall. “Living on the same floor freshman year, we all became best friends. We would all workout together, and meet up for lunch and dinner. We decided to make an IM sports team and have been creating teams together ranging from floor hockey and basketball to water polo and volleyball” shares Laurel Schaaf, OU class of 2018.

As noted earlier, Rec Well loves to see student employees get involved with IM sports. While Rec Well is the second largest student employer on campus, there are two IM teams made up of different student staff members. James Guracech, shares his favorite part about being on the student employee team, “We Gucci”, is being able to hang out with coworkers that he is friends with. As an IM supervisor himself, James shares, “We all have fun with it and it is a nice break from work and school. Even though I am a supervisor, I enjoy being a participant when I am not working.” The second team includes a variety of student staff at Rec Well (e.g. member services, personal training, building managers, fitness assistants). They call themselves “The Sweaty Tryhards” and have been playing together since Fall 2016. Annemarie Eovaldi claims that her team lives up to their name. It turns out this particular team went 0-4 during their regular season in outdoor soccer and then made it to semi-finals. Eovaldi says her team considers this achievement “their finest Cinderella story!”

Other clubs and organizations on campus also like to take advantage of the IM sports leagues. This winter semester the Greek community got involved by reaching out to each other and creating mixed teams of the sororities and fraternities. Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and Sigma Pi Fraternity created co-ed volleyball teams in order to get to know each other better. The “Ball BlASTers” and “Unleash the BeAST’s” are now having fun with some friendly competition.

College is all about the experiences and a big part of the OU experience includes meeting new people in a diverse community. Having the option to get new friends, co-workers, or other community members involved with each other is both an opportunity to make new friends and also create new connections to take with you further into your college career.

Employee Spotlight: Rachael Zelmanski

Employee Spot Light (Rachael Zelmanski)

Rachel is a part of the member services team and helps oversee the facilities staff. One specific job she was put in charge of during the winter 2018 term was helping to organize our new “Member Appreciation” month.

“Rachel has worked diligently to gain prizes and giveaways for member appreciation month. She has worked very hard at trying to acquire new donors, planning the months prizes, and making sure that everything falls into line,” says Lindsey Hyatt.

Members were very happy with Member Appreciation month and have had nothing but positive feedback. With Rachel’s dedication and positivity we were able to have a successful new addition to our calendar events this term.

Why did you want to work at the Rec?

I took interest in working at RecWell because I already had a lot of friends who worked here and I really liked the environment.

What is your favorite part about working here?

My favorite part is being able to interact with the other staff and patrons. It’s nice because the staff has become very close during each semester and I’ve made some close friends.

When you’re not at the Rec, what are some things you like to do?

I enjoy keeping up with TV shows like “The Real Housewives”, shopping, and relaxing.

What fuels your shift? (music, food, people, etc.)

The people I work with fuel my shift!

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to graduating.

What are your plans for the future?

I am hoping to go to graduate school and possibly obtain a graduate assistant position at a recreation center. Later on, I want to get my Master’s in educational counseling and be on a coaching staff for girls high school basketball.

Name your top 3 workout songs

  1. Powerglide by Rae Sremmurd
  2. Stir Fry by Migos
  3. Can’t Tell Me Nothing by Kanye West

What is your best tip for health and wellness?

Make sure to get enough sleep!

Fun Fact: I have the ability to wiggle my ears!

Stress & Physical Activity

Stress & Physical Activity


It’s almost that time of the year, when the semester is coming to an end and it seems as though every deadline is overlapping a test date. Yes, that dreaded time where you feel the excitement of the semester ending while being stressed about final projects and exams. Everyone seems to wonder, is there a remedy to this stress? Here’s some good news- there is a remedy, and it’s physical activity. Countless statistics show that stress can be relieved through a combination of meditation and physical activity. According to, “Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management.”

Young Adults in a Fitness Class

Why Exercise?

During exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural pain killers and often called the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. When stressed, the human body goes through a natural reaction called “fight or flight.” The anxious and tense feeling you experience when going through “fight or flight” happens because you are not responding to this evolutionarily-programmed occurrence. The proper response is physical activity. Taking some time to exercise also helps you shed daily tensions by focusing on what you are doing in that moment and not on other outside stressors. Higher energy levels and a more optimistic outlook are the results of taking time to exercise.

Copy of 10255093_865368193477610_5024668890584306224_o (4)

Finding Time To Move

The biggest question about exercise is, “How do I find time to fit in workouts into my already busy schedule?” Finding the time is easy, but finding the motivation can be difficult. Here are a few ways to incorporate exercise into a busy schedule:

  1. Walking/Biking to class. Walking the long way to class or hopping on the bike instead of driving across campus is a great way to get your heart pumping.
  2. Take the stairs. Avoiding the elevators and taking the stairs when going from floor to floor is a small but effective way to incorporate exercise into daily life.
  3. Hit the gym between classes. Have an hour between classes? Spend half of it in the gym! It can be hard to go after school, so push yourself to get there in between. It will go by quicker and you will have more energy before your next class.
  4. Sign up for an exercise class and treat it like a school course. Whether it’s yoga, Group X, or cycling, join an exercise class that fits your schedule and treat it as though it is a part of curriculum.
  5. Reward yourself. Set some personal goals and reward yourself when you reach them- i.e. treating yourself to your favorite restaurant after a week of reaching study and exercise goals.
  6. Joining intramural or club sports. The set schedule of intramural and club sports is a great motivation to get some physical activity in. Gather some friends from your classes and take study breaks by doing sports.
  7. Workout with a friend. A like-minded friend may be the perfect inspiration and reason to hit the gym or go for a walk in between study sessions or classes.

Set Up For Success

IMG_5028 (1)

Whether you are running, doing yoga, or zumba dancing, you are ultimately teaching your body to turn to physical activity when stressed. Continuing this habit will lead to less stress and more success! Consider this information the next time you feel like your brain can’t hold anymore information during a study session, or your super anxious the night before a big exam. Whether you are a beginner or an athlete, physical activity will boost your confidence and help you focus when that “end-of-semester” stress begins.  

Meet Tessa Naman


Hey Rec Well! My name is Teresa, but everyone calls me Tessa. I am currently a junior majoring in marketing in the School of Business. I work with a great team here at Rec Well as a marketing intern. One of the things I love about working at Rec Well is the idea of physical & mental well-being that is encouraged among patrons and employees alike. Not to mention, it is definitely convenient to work right outside of a gym! I can never go a day without exercising, specifically running and lifting weights. The gym always tends to be my go-to place for when I am stressed or need a break.

I thoroughly enjoy the OU campus atmosphere and appreciate all of the resources available, as they have facilitated my success throughout the past 3 years. After graduating in 2019, I am hoping to move onto law school while keeping a job in the business field. I believe a truly successful person is one with a caring heart who brings out the best of everyone they come in contact with, which is what I strive for each day.

Some things I am passionate about are my education, my family & friends, and traveling. I have a very big Middle-Eastern family, so there is never a dull moment in my life. They are always there to support me and make me laugh. I take school very seriously, because I believe a proper education opens doors to new opportunities and keeps the mind open. I push myself to read books and learn something new everyday.

The picture I included is at Trevi Fountain, Rome, from a trip over the summer of 2017 to Italy & Israel. I love to visit new places and dive into different cultures, as well as taste all the different cuisines 🙂  I plan to one day move to my favorite city in the world- Miami, Florida.

I hope you enjoy my blog posts as much as I enjoy writing them!

Summertime Outdoor Recreation

Today is April 6 and it is still overcast, cold, and windy in Michigan. How many sunny days do Michigan residents actually get? Based on studies from, Michigan averages about 180 sunny days per year, which is lower than the average state. While there’s a higher percentage of sunny days between the months of May and September, weather plays a big role in our physical activities. Only the brave set outdoors to run during blizzards or rainy weather! What we don’t seem to get during non-summer seasons is the sun beaming down or the fresh air keeping us cool during our runs or sports games. Summertime in Michigan means utilizing the sun and beautiful weather to it’s full advantage! Believe it or not, outdoor recreation activities benefit our social, emotional, and intellectual well-being, along with our physical well-being.

According to, “People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.” These benefits are amplified with safe levels of sun exposure, which is one of the main reasons I savor every minute of my outdoor workouts. With sunshine comes increased production of vitamin D, melatonin and happier moods. I always keep a bottle of sweat-proof sunscreen or a hat in my gym bag, taking extra precaution if I am spending more than thirty minutes in the sun.

If you live within driving distance to Oakland University in Rochester, MI, or any nearby college campus, be sure to keep the outdoor amenities in mind. The weather is slowly changing, and the opportunity will come about soon! Here is some information on how I utilize my collegiate campus to the fullest during the few months of sunshine.

What is the Outdoor Complex?

Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being (Rec Well) maintains an outdoor complex which includes the super-field lined for different sports, turf fields, softball field overlays, tennis courts, an outdoor track, golf course, and a support building. These are located past the recreation building and across from the George T. Matthews Apartment complex. The operational season starts on April 1 and ends October 31 of each year. 



Playing Your Favorite Outdoor Sports

Being an avid tennis player since a young age, I love to gather a group or play one-on-one on the tennis courts behind the track. The support building will especially come in handy, with a $1 tennis racquet rental for the one who forgets their racquet. Soccer balls, footballs, and frisbees are available for checkout as well. One of the reasons I have stayed so loyal to the great game of tennis is because of the social benefits. Two or more people are always needed, and it is the type of sport that can be casually taken up or played very seriously. You can start at any age, and only get better with practice! The outdoor complex has 8 courts that are open from dawn until dusk. I always find myself getting together with some friends to play during the summer.


Switch Up Your Running Routine

To stay fit and have fun during the summer, I also tend to switch up my running routine. Running indoors on the treadmill can be very monotone and boring. It is so hard to stay motivated when you are not having fun! With the outdoor track and trail routes available, there are endless opportunities to head outdoors for your summer runs. According to, the difference in terrain and wind speed, uphills and downhills, and various muscle activations are just a few of the small things that make a huge difference when it comes to running outside versus on a treadmill.


My running routine varies and ends up being very fun with the outdoor complex. I usually use the outdoor track for sprinting, and even sometimes create mini circuits with the 70 yard by 120 yard marked soccer field inside the track, sprinting from line to line and seeing how fast I can go. I even recreate the stair climb machine with the bleachers, running up and down the steps as fast as I can. Rec Well’s outdoor complex also has its own running/walking routes. The 2.3 mile loop, 4.3 mile loop, or 6.5 mile loop are great scenic routes for those inclined to have a run or hike with a view. It is not rare for the light 2.3 mile loop to be my cool down after running miles of sprints.



Getting creative with the outdoor complex is not hard. It is almost irresistible to create new exercises; I definitely let my imagination take control. Whether it is a competitive game of tennis, variety of sprinting, or a relaxing walk, the amenities of the outdoor complex will always remain a staple of my summer activities. I highly encourage students to consider the possibilities of creating new memories using Rec Well’s outdoor amenities, all while soaking up some vitamin D and dwelling in the benefits of healthy physical activity.