Going beyond the gyms: Fitness at Pitt


Janine Faust | Editor-in-chief

The Baierl Student Recreation Center in the Petersen Events Center is a popular workout location for students.

By Elizabeth Martinson, Senior Staff Writer

Step outside during the few weeks of nice weather at the beginning of the fall semester and you’ll see — and dodge — joggers hitting the pavement and hills of Oakland. Head to the Cathedral lawns or Schenley Plaza and you’ll watch frisbees fly by and see at least one way-too-intense game of spikeball.

But if you’re not into running and still want to keep fit, then you’ll probably hit one of the fitness centers around campus.

All 14 fitness centers on campus are free to use with your Pitt ID. Beyond the gyms, there are more than 60 club sports, and numerous intramural leagues are offered each semester. Non-credit group exercise classes are also offered each semester, as are personal training and wellness consultations to help you get the most out of your fitness center experience.

These classes meet once a week for an hour, but if you are looking for more instruction or to learn a new sport or hobby, the School of Education offers co-ed physical education classes

Below you’ll find an in-depth look at all of the fitness options available to you when you arrive on campus.

Group exercise and personal training

Each semester — including the summer term — the Department of Campus Recreation offers group exercise classes for students who are looking for something a bit more organized than just hitting the gym. The options range from studio cycling and yoga to more intense options like HIIT and boot camp.

Campus Rec offers up to 40 classes each semester, ensuring there are options for all students. The classes are often at or near capacity as people trickle in over the semester as they hear about the course from friends.

All group exercise classes are led by students, who are often — but not always — studying the health sciences. If you are interested in becoming an instructor, Campus Rec has programs to help you get and maintain the necessary certifications.

Some students come to Pitt wanting to use the fitness centers to keep the Market Central waffles off, but don’t feel comfortable with the equipment or don’t know how best to approach each workout. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Free wellness consultations are available for all students — full-time and part-time, undergraduate and graduate — and everyone is encouraged to make use of the service.

“We try to push that to be their first step because it is one hour free,” said Kevin Sciullo, the wellness coordinator. “We do a whole range of health and fitness baseline testing, we go over goals, we try to see what do you want to get out of this.”

If you’re looking for more one-on-one training, there are a few options to choose from. Pitt’s personal trainers offer both hour-long and half-hour training sessions that can be scheduled as needed. They also offer the Panther Exercise Prescription Jumpstart, which is more of a long-term plan than the individual training sessions.


“The Prescription Jumpstart [is] three sessions combined into one,” said Sciullo. “We’ll do a more extensive pre-testing and really sit down and say what’s ideal for you … really delve it down. Then we go ahead and write a month-long prescription.”

“That’s great for the student that wants a full, month-long plan, and they’re like, ‘I don’t really need you there every second, I know what I’m doing, I just need this guidance, this explanation,’” Sciullo explained.

The fitness fiends among you can also become a personal trainer and earn some spending money while keeping yourself — and others — fit.


If you miss the friendly competition of Little League sports or you and your friends want to find something to do when you hang out other than study, intramurals might be the best fit. 

Due to popular demand, indoor soccer is offered year-round and only requires six people to field a team. For those of you who are already card-carrying members of the Oakland Zoo and are counting down the days to the first game, recreational basketball — meaning no officials or scorekeepers — is offered in the fall semester, with the competitive league taking place in the spring.

Even if you don’t have a full team scouted and organized, you can join any league as a partial team looking for some extra free-agent players or you can sign up as a free agent yourself. Bill Wallace, the intramural sports coordinator, said that about half of teams are open to free agents, so there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

“You can sign up as an individual instead of a team, and then once the season starts, we can guide you to a team that is needing of players,” said Wallace.

Although there are not many different sports offered, Wallace is open to student suggestions, and this year he added a dodgeball league during the spring semester. Most suggestions come to Wallace through his student staff of intramural referees and supervisors who regularly interact with intramural participants.

Competitive and recreational club sports

If you played a sport in high school and miss the competitive atmosphere, you might find your home away from home in one of the 43 competitive club sports at Pitt. With options ranging from hurling to ice hockey to Ultimate Frisbee as well as club versions of most of Pitt’s varsity sports, there are opportunities for everyone.

Most club sports will accept anyone, regardless of their experience or ability, so if you’ve always wanted to learn how to ride a horse, the Panther Equestrian Club will teach you and get you up to speed to enter competitions.

Most clubs practice three or more times a week, which can include time in the gym as well as on the playing field. Additionally, competitive teams will travel to events around the region and, sometimes, across the country.

Recreational club teams are more about “the instructional aspects and recreational play of the sport” according to the Campus Rec website. These clubs, which include badminton, billiards and several martial arts, focus on intra-club competition and skill development rather than competing against other colleges and universities.

Recreational clubs involve a smaller time commitment than their competitive counterparts and usually only meet once or twice a week.

As part of Welcome Week this year, there will be a separate activities fair for club and recreational sports at the Pitt Sports Dome on Saturday, Aug. 24, where you can meet members of the teams and learn more about club sports at Pitt.