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Students in Rhonda Locklair’s Laughter Yoga class at the ECU Student Recreation Center greet each other with a handshake and a deep belly laugh. Locklair (center) explains to her students that laughter provides a good workout while helping to relieve stress. The program is one of many fitness programs offered by ECU’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. (Photo by Christine Neff)

Faculty, Staff Can Get Fit at Student Recreation Center

By Christine Neff

Laughter came easy to participants in a free Laughter Yoga class hosted at the Student Recreation Center this September.

The class joined in as instructor Rhonda Locklair clapped her hands in rhythm, chanting aloud, “Very good, very good, yeah! Very good, very good, yeah!”

By the second “yeah,” students couldn’t help but smile, and the belly laughing soon followed.

Locklair admitted, the exercises may seem silly at first, but the activity has some serious health benefits. It can relieve stress, oxygenate the body and massage internal organs while providing a workout, she said.

“It’s the most fun, transformative exercise I’ve ever done,” Locklair said. “It’s truly a miracle worker.”

Laughter Yoga is just one of many ways East Carolina University’s Campus Recreation and Wellness Center (CRW) aims to keep students, faculty and staff fit.

“We’re not just about treadmills or weights, tracks or indoor pools. We’re about putting it all together for you,” said Sam Combs, assistant director of fitness. “If you’re committed to becoming fitter and stronger, this is the place for you.”

The center offers a variety of ways to do that, from traditional cardio and weightlifting exercises to personal training sessions, weekend kayaking trips to lunch-hour dance classes.

The facility has an indoor pool for lap swimming and recreational play, an outdoor pool, a weight and fitness area, an indoor track, multipurpose courts, a 27-foot climbing wall and more.

In addition, the center offers classes that incorporate elements of yoga, Pilates, fitness and dance. Members can learn Scottish Country Dancing, practice Hatha Yoga, even try out some ballroom dance moves.

Some of these programs are free to CRW members, while others have an additional fee. All programs are open to members and non-members.

The more adventure-minded can embark on backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing and caving trips throughout the region.

Brad Beggs, director of the adventure program, said these trips fit all ability levels. “We can do really exciting, extreme stuff, or we can be out there enjoying the scenery and relaxing. It’s only a matter of how far you want to take it,” he said.

For a more social workout experience, ECU faculty and staff participate in intramural sports. About 25 different sports are played each year, including basketball, wiffleball, dodgeball and kickball.

“If you haven’t played kickball since you were 10 years old, you need to come out and try it. It will take you back,” said Kathryn Hunt, associate director of marketing for CRW.

New this semester, the center is encouraging regular physical activity through an online incentive program, “Pirates That Thrive.”

Registered members sign on to a web site,, to log their exercise minutes between Sept. 15 and Oct. 26.

Prizes are awarded at the end of the six-week period to those participants that reach time goals.

ECU faculty and staff, and their family members, can purchase a yearlong membership for $264. A semester pass costs $110. Payroll deduction services are available. ECU employees who have never had a membership can use the facility, free, for one month.

For additional information about the Student Recreation Center classes, activities and memberships, visit or call 328-6387.

This page originally appeared in the Oct. 3, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at