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.


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. 

Instagram Stars of #OURecWell

We notice how hard you work. We notice that you care about your health goals and overall well-being. We notice you encourage others to be mindful and you empower those to start their own health journey. Yup—, as you can see, we have many dedicated students, staff, faculty, and community members who use the Rec Center on a regular basis. Some of our patrons choose to share their experiences using #OURecWell. We’d like to share out these three top Instagram stories to show gratitude and appreciation for each of our patrons who keep us updated on your experiences during the week by using our hashtag. #OURecWell #OUFitness


Katie Dalton (@ked0815) is an active member of the Rec Center both as an employee and a student user. “The Rec Center is my main facility that I use. I love the community aspect since my friends and coworkers are always there to support me.” Dalton uses the Rec Center on a daily basis by performing her own workout routines and taking part in GroupX classes. Among participating in various classes, Dalton has created her own fitness goals. “One of my long-term goals has been to bench my bodyweight. This past semester I was finally able to reach that goal. It was a fantastic feeling and it has been fun to see myself continuously progress.”


Trent Shull (@trent_titan), one of OU Recreation and Well-Being’s (Rec Well) personal trainers dedicates his time to our members. “My favorite part about working at the Rec is being a personal trainer and a GroupX instructor for three different classes.” Shull informs us that “Rec Well has helped me become a better personal trainer through training different clients and instructing a variety of participants.” Trent has been able to develop the valuable skill of modifying exercises on-the-spot for participants from all levels of ability. Trent embodies Rec Well values by creating an inclusive environment for participants.


Ron (@Zrambo1), current Rec Well GroupX instructor, exerts his energy into his own personal workouts, but he also gets his class participants fired up and excited to exercise! During the week, Ron teaches two different classes which include Zumba, and Strength Circuits. “I was watching the Go Red Dance Jam this February at the Rec Center, and the participants were so energetic when Ron was on stage. There were smiles everywhere,” said Molly Gagnon, Rec Well Marketing Coordinator. We are lucky to have such a passionate instructor guiding our members in their paths to a healthy lifestyle, and having fun while doing so!


Enhance your Rec Center experience with Member Services

thumb_img_0050_1024The member services desks at the Rec Center and Recreation and Athletic Outdoor Complex (RAOC) are primary resources for students, faculty and staff to rent or buy equipment to assist with and optimize their workouts.

“Member services within Recreation and Well-Being is here to enhance any patrons experience, whether that’s scanning them into the building, making sure they have active memberships, selling new memberships or selling them lockers,” Coordinator of Member Services, Bill Singleton, said. “And answering questions about our programs and services, that’s our biggest thing.”

Singleton explained that just under 30 student employees work in the three areas of member services – the welcome center on the upper level of the Rec Center, the service desk at the lower level and the service window at the RAOC. He described the staff as a “jack of all trades,” because they know a little bit about everything and can always direct people in the right place.

“One of the things we’re stressing this year with our staff as far as customer service is creating wow moments for people, so making sure we answer any questions they have and if we can’t figure it out, going one step further to find that answer,” Singleton said. “We pride ourselves on that customer service aspect and making sure we’re that touch point for everyone that comes into the building.”

Rec Center members may not necessarily see the fitness, aquatic or intramural staff every time they enter the building or outdoor complex, but they will most likely see or interact with someone from member services. Singleton knows the importance of this, and that’s why member services focuses so heavily on making sure members have a positive experience.

In addition to customer service, member services also has items patrons can rent or buy. Members must have their ID to rent out and return items, and all rented items must be returned back to the service desk by the time it closes.

Singleton said popular items that the member services desk at the Rec Center rents out are foam rollers, yoga mats and basketballs, but they also rent out TRX cables, locks and lockers, and additional workout equipment.

While the welcome center is open during all hours of operation of the Rec Center, the service desk and RAOC service window aren’t. The service desk opens at 7:30 a.m. until the building closes from Monday through Friday, and on the weekend, it’s open the entire time the building is open. The service window at the RAOC is open from 2 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend. The service window will close for the season on Oct. 31.

Below is a full list of all rental and retail items offered at the Rec Center and RAOC.


Men’s/women’s basketballs

Soccer balls



Table tennis paddles

Full and half foam rollers

Jump ropes

Weight belts

Dip belts

Bosu balls

Resistance bands/tubes

Stability discs

TRX suspension sets

TRX workout binder

Life jacket

Aqua joggers


Yoga mats

Hand paddles

Boxing gloves

Sliding disks



Racquetball racquets*

Badminton racquets*

Day locks*


Soccer balls



Giant Jenga



Tennis rackets**

Disc golf set**

*items cost 50 cents to rent

**items cost $1.00 to rent


1-month half locker $5.00

1-month full locker $10

4-month half locker $15

4-month full locker $30


Swim Essentials

Nose clip $2.50

Silicone goggle strap $2.75

Swim cap $5.00

Bungee goggle strap $5.50

Speedo sprint goggles $10.00

Force swim gloves $10.00

Workout Essentials

Socks (men’s and women’s) $1.50

Workout towel $1.50

White T-Shirt (medium and large) $3.75

Athletic tape $4.50

Ear buds $5.00

Yoga socks $10.00

Blender bottle $10.00

Just The Basics

Hair tie $0.25

Table tennis ball $0.50

Water $1.50

Gatorade (multiple flavors) $1.75

Muscle Milk (multiple flavors) $2.00

Clif Builder’s Bar (multiple flavors) $2.00

Bath towel $6.00

BarBelles – The Women who Lift

Oakland University Recreation and Well-being is providing a beacon of hope for thousands of women on campus who wish to improve their health through strength training.  This new program known as the BarBelles is designed to help educate women on how to effectively and safely train with weights.

Eileen McNally, the woman at the forefront of the BarBelles program, aims for this to be a safe place for women to gain insight on how to train confidently and just be comfortable in their own skin.

“BarBelles reminds us that our bodies are not who we are,” says McNally.  “Our bodies are just containers that hold something greater.”

McNally goes on to say that BarBelles will help show women that their purpose on earth is not to look perfect, but rather gain the inner confidence to help share compassion and support to the surrounding community and other women.

The intimidation exists when women fear they are being judged and walk into the gym feeling as though they don’t belong.  Too often women face this dilemma as they enter the one place where they can depend on to squash their insecurities but end up too self conscious to face them head on.

Bound by their lack of knowledge and their fear to go up and ask someone to educate them, women simply stay away and avoid the situation entirely.

Realizing the parallels between weight lifting intimidation and the dropping numbers of women who enter the gym, the BarBelle program addresses this challenge specifically.  They will give women a second chance and an opportunity to experience a worry-free workout environment.  Reclaiming their strong and healthy bodies one curl at a time.

Striving to build the inner and outer beauty, the BarBelles use liberating techniques and focus on organically forming powerful connections.

As McNally puts in nicely, “BarBelles will create a community that allows girls to be their true authentic self.”

More information regarding the BarBelles meeting time and place will be available shortly.

Feature photo courtesy of

#ThisisOUCampusRec: The Biggest Loser Challenge

OU’s fitness program is promoting their version of The Biggest Loser Challenge for the New Year.   Break through stubborn plateaus and reach greater levels of fitness and health than you ever imagined!

The program starts off with a provided fitness assessment offered between January 12th-January 17th followed by the official program start date on January 18th and ending April 10th.

Participants must commit to 4-6 hours per week dedicated to this 12-week program. Mandatory lifestyle behavior change sessions are a vital component of the program and all are expected to attend. These informational sessions on nutrition, stress management and physical activity, will fuel your success at the end of the program.

In order to closely monitor your journey, we ask that you utilize MyFitnessPal to keep an activity log and food journal, tracking your daily efforts. Also, two 1-hour group workout sessions are scheduled each week. Instructors will go over various exercises, while you familiarize yourself with the wide range of exercises, giving you the experience to continue your fitness well after the program is completed.


The program is intended for those who have 15 or more pounds to lose and is a beginner-intermediate exerciser. Participants must provide proof of having a physical exam in the last year, as well as a physician’s clearance to participate. As you must fulfill these requirements, some leniency may be place on registration deadlines.

Registration and Prices

Early Bird registration is through November 1st-December 21st. Price: $100 for students and members.

Late registration is through December 22nd-January 5th. Price: $150 for students and members.

Refer to our website for more information regarding registration requirements or conflicts, application process and price reductions. If you have further questions, contact:

We want all who will benefit from this program to attend and do not want cost or other issues be a factor that will prevent your participation. So let’s kick off next year with a healthier and happier you!

GroupX Spotlight: Jill Dunphy

What formats of GroupX do you teach?

Yin Yoga FFL Yoga (adaptive & therapeutic) – Yoga for Athletes – Restorative Yoga – Slow Flow Yoga 

Schedule: Tuesday-5:30pm, Friday-9:30am

Duration: 1 hour

How long have you been teaching at the Rec?

Since 2007

What is your favorite thing about teaching GroupX?

Introducing people to yoga and meditation, watching their progress, helping them overcome injuries or to correct misalignments so they can ease into the practice and find the joy and peace of mind that comes from yoga. 

What made you want to teach GroupX?

I was recruited by the Rec Center because I was a student of Michael Johnson, one of the first yoga instructors at the Rec.