The first February Fit Month has commenced on campus with the intention that students will takes some time to focus on their health, wellness and fitness.

Health Education Coordinator Emily Skinner '08 said the plans for a month dedicated to health and wellness have been in the works since the opening of the new Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness.

Swine flu, however, put plans on hold until this February.

"We wanted to do something to really highlight all the amazing resources that are available to students on this campus, particularly with the new space and classes," said Skinner.

Skinner worked on the plans over winter break with Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Margaret Hazlett, Head Coach of Strength and Conditioning Jim St. Pierre, Director of the Counseling Service and Wellness Programs Bernie Hershberger, and Director of Health Services Sandra Hayes.

Skinner said they thought about "what are some of the great things on this campus that we can emphasize and highlight."

"We worked to put together a card that every student received in their mailbox, which has a list of events that are happening in the month of February to really showcase some of these new and existing things," said Skinner.

With each event a student attends throughout February, they can collect points for a chance to win prizes, like an iPod, an hour-long massage or a ski pass.

Some of the events include a "Design Your Own Exercise Plan" program today at 4 p.m. in the Buck Center, and a Health and Wellness Fair at Smith Union next Friday, February 19. The fair will feature free massages and trial acupuncture.

In addition to the several tours, classes and open houses, students might notice a difference in the familiar chime of the Chapel bells; every Friday in February at 3 p.m., the bells will play the Quaker hymn, "Simple Gifts."

The idea for the bells came from the campus group Health Happenings, which is composed of students and staff who work on issues of health and wellness.

"It can be difficult for students to balance work with extracurriculars, but it's important to find time to pause and reflect," said Skinner. "[The bells] can be a healthy and non-intrusive reminder to everyone to just pause and take a moment to reflect."

Skinner says that even though it can be really hard at times to fit in wellness, health and fitness into students' busy lives, it's important that students are at least aware of what is available to them.

"I hope students are able to recognize the wide variety of what it means to be healthy or well or fit. It doesn't just mean going to the gym or eating a certain thing, but that incorporating wellness practice can be a really great way to stay healthy and fit in mind, body and spirit," said Skinner.

For more information, please contact Emily Skinner at