At Alumni Gym, students are up and moving before the sun


Maria Rauh

Students attend a morning cycling class at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, at Alumni Gym in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Maria Rauh | Staff

Emily Girard, Features Editor

Most days, the first items listed on UK’s daily Event Calendar website are early morning workouts at Alumni Gym and the Johnson Center. These workouts are varied, with the fitness centers offering sunrise yoga, cycling and weights training – all before 8 a.m.

But is anyone willing to start an already busy school or work day with a fitness class that takes place before sunrise? A two-hour survey of Alumni Gym on Monday, Nov. 28, showed that though the schedules are not always accurate, many students are willing to start their days with early exercise.

Wildcat Weights was the first event listed on the UK calendar on Nov. 28. Though the website said it takes place in Alumni Gym Group Fitness B at 6:30 a.m., it was not listed on the printed group fitness schedules posted around the gym.

When 6:30 a.m. arrived, Group Fitness B had no occupants. The exception was Kaitlyn Hornsby, a marketing assistant for UK Athletics who used the empty group fitness room to work out.

Hornsby said the electronic schedule outside the room always says the weights class takes place there, despite the room always being empty.

“I don’t really know what that is. It says Wildcat Weights, but I don’t think there’s ever a class in here during that,” she said.

Hornsby’s early workouts can be attributed to the fact that her workday begins at 8:30 or 9 a.m.

“(I work out early) just to get it done, so that I can do more during the day,” she said.

Besides occasional students and staff, the main group at Alumni Gym at 6:30 a.m. was the UK Army ROTC. The ROTC has physical training, or PT, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:20 a.m.

“We do first probation, which is like accountability (and) attendance, and then we also have a final probation, which is for any outstanding announcements that we have,” senior computer science major Kenny Starks said. “My company always meets at Buell Armory for the morning and then (goes) to Alumni.”

Starks said that the ROTC does “release PT” on Mondays; in other words, after attendance is taken, members are free to go to Alumni and focus on whatever strength or skill they choose.

Starks also shared a similar sentiment to Hornsby, in that early workouts allow her to get her physical training out of the way for the day.

“It kind of blocks off time throughout the week where you can work out,” she said. “I probably wouldn’t work out as much if I didn’t have ROTC.”

Conversely, Alumni Gym’s 7:30 a.m. cycling class did have attendees. Reece Wilson, a junior majoring in neuroscience and minoring in pharmacology, led the class.

Wilson said her teaching style is “a little bit of everything,” and she tries to combine speed, resistance and different muscle exercises into the allotted 30-minute workout time.

“It’s super quick,” she said. “Everybody comes in, they get the work done in half an hour and they’re out of here. I think people like having it in the morning.”

Wilson said anywhere from two to 14 people attend her classes. The Johnson Center also has early cycling classes, which Wilson said get larger turnouts despite being an hour earlier.
“The morning classes are usually a little bit smaller, especially with this (Alumni Gym) being on the north side of campus,” she said. “The (Johnson Center) is usually a little bit busier … All the freshmen are over there since all the dorms are over there.”

Wilson said more people come to her class on Wednesdays than Mondays. However, there are some exceptions, such as freshman integrated strategic communication major Amelia Terry.

Terry’s class schedule conflicts with the 7:30 a.m. cycling class on every day except Monday.

“Mondays, I don’t have a class until 1, so my morning is pretty available,” she said. “(Cycling) helps me be productive for the rest of the day, because if I didn’t get up for this class, I probably wouldn’t get up until 10 or 11. It just helps me get up and start my day.”