New Year’s Resolution: The Rec-Classy Way

Students stretch before class. Photo credit by Thiba Thiagarajan.
Students stretch before class. Photo credit by Thiba Thiagarajan.
Students stretch before class. Photo credit by Thiba Thiagarajan.
Students stretch before class. Photo credit by Thiba Thiagarajan.

With the start of a new quarter comes 10 more weeks of grueling morning classes, five-page papers, and a never-ending onslaught of midterms and finals.

However, UCSD also offers many chances for students to relax and release stress in the form of various recreation classes.

After a long day of sitting in class, students can sign up to shake off stress and learn some new dance moves at Main Gym. This quarter, classes such as Nia Dance, House Dance, Afro Caribbean Dance and Line Dancing will be available. Hip Hop Commercial Dance, based on energetic jazz dancing that is quickly gaining popularity, will be taught by Hector Fletes, who has previously taught at Disneyland. Tai Chi for Dancers, taught by Janice Montgomery, will be based on Tai Chi Exercise Form 28 and Universal Form 24 and is great for those who are looking to strengthen their bodies and increase their flexibility.

For the food lovers, Tamale Trio and Super Bowl a la Mexicana will give chances for students to learn how to make delicious Mexican dishes and eat them afterward. These classes will be taught by Carmen Bernard Baca, a chef found through Craigslist because of the department’s desire to provide Mexican cooking classes for students. Baca also teaches about Mexico’s diverse culture and the background of the many dishes students will be learning to create.

Associate Director of Rec Classes Laurel Dean expressed her excitement about these classes.

“People not only get to learn how to make the tamales, but they get to eat all these tamales the same day.” Dean told the UCSD Guardian. “[Baca] brings in these little things about Mexico and about the culture, what’s behind the food — those sort of things — so you learn an awful lot as you’re watching her cook.”

Mexican cuisine is not the only way to experience dining at the recreation center; Home Brewing 101 is also an option this quarter. This workshop will be available as a three-hour class on the process behind making beer.

“You don’t have to be 21 to take [Home Brewing 101] because it’s not about drinking beer; it’s about learning the process, the technique behind making beer — all the chemistry and science,” Dean said.

Those wanting to learn a new talent or hobby can try out Intro to Harmonica, Beginning Guitar or Beginning Ukulele. Students can also show their more creative side in Learn to Sew, which will focus on machine stitching; Needlecrafts, which will teach knitting and hand embroidery; Figure Sketching, a class aimed at fashion figure drawing; and even How not to Suck at Improv (Fundamentals of Improv), in which Vanessa Anton will teach students to handle nervousness when put on the spot.

For anyone with more of an itch to move, an introduction class for almost every sport will be available. Basketball, boxing, archery, golf, volleyball, fencing and many more classes are perfect for beginning athletes. Badminton will be taught by Jacky Zhang, a former player with the national Chinese badminton team and now a UCSD student. For those tight on money, a free racquetball workshop will be held in the RIMAC courts during the winter quarter. The Bootcamp Training in the Gym: Strength and Flexibility Training class can be taken by athletes or by anyone else generally focused on staying fit and healthy. Aerial Silks Acrobats can provide starting experience as a member of the incredible Cirque de Soleil. Learning a type of martial arts such as Aikido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Tae Kwon Do will be beneficial for self-defense.

All recreation classes are taught by hired professionals, UCSD’s own staff members or even students. A few classes, such as Intro to Harmonica and Aerial Silk Acrobatics, were started as ideas first proposed by students who wanted to offer their knowledge to others. Aerial Silk was started three years ago by a student who offered to teach the class based on his previous experience, and who is now studying in France for his senior year.

“[Aerial Silk Acrobatics] happened because a student came when he was a freshman. He stood at my doorway here and said, ‘I took a silks class in high school and we don’t have it here. Would you be interested in starting it? I’ll teach it.’” Dean said. “So that’s an example of a student coming who’s interested in [teaching] something.”

Dean also said that she would be happy to try out new and interesting classes in an ongoing effort to find something that would interest everyone on campus. In the past, there have been unique classes on beekeeping and on how to raise chickens in a backyard.

“We’re here for the students. So if the students want something, we’re happy to make it happen,” Dean said. “If I don’t take [the class], I try to duck in and watch a lot of them, just to see how much fun all the students are having.”

As an integral part of our campus, UCSD Recreation offers more than just different recreation classes. It will also be hosting a campuswide trash pick-up day on Feb. 21. Pollination Protection Agency members and volunteers will spend the day beautifying the campus, receiving a free milkweed plant for participating. In many ways, cleaning can be a form of stress relief as well.

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