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reed magazine logoDecember 2010

Finding Balance continued

"I know what these students go through—I worked in the counseling center. And I identify with the students. When they come and say to me, 'I'm weak, I'm awkward,' I get it—that's who I was. It's really fun to expose them to new activities and teach them skills that will help them throughout their whole lives. These are smart, talented people who are going to go out and make a big difference in the world."

The sports center currently offers 62 courses with 742 students currently enrolled—an increase of 18% over the last five years. Reed now offers six team sports (basketball, rowing, rugby, soccer, squash, and ultimate frisbee). In fact, the number of students participating in team sports has doubled over the last five years, reaching 300.

Reed students do not necessarily regard sports as an antidrug program. But Lombardo says sports are an effective therapy for many of the issues that are associated with drug use, such as anxiety, stress, depression, and sleep problems.

"The single most effective intervention you can make is physical activity," he says.

This does not mean that Reed is going to field a football team any time soon. It does mean that the college offers an impressive range of choices for students who are natural-born adventurers and thrill seekers. "You want intensity?" Lombardo asks. "Take a look at the rugby team. Go on a raft trip down the Deschutes River. Go snowboarding up on the mountain. Play squash. Not only do these activities match the intensity of the drug experience, but they're fun, without the risk and side effects of substance use. They provide socialization for students who are shy. They help the students cope with stress. They teach kids good lifestyle habits, and help them perform better in class."

Mopping the sweat from her forehead, Emily Kastrul '11, a biology major who is writing her thesis on phytoremediation, says capoeira makes a big difference to her state of mind. "This keeps me grounded," she says. "It gives me a reason to exercise. Capoeira is like a kind of challenge. It's a game as much as an art form. It pushes you to your limits, it pushes you past your limits. It's art, combat, music, philosophy, history, ritual—and it's fun!"

"Sometimes I'm tired and I don't feel like doing it. But I find that if I go to capoeira, afterwards I feel rejuvenated and revitalized—I feel more able to study."

Walking out of a yoga session, physics major Adarsh Pyarelal '11 echoes this sentiment. "At first, I just took the class to satisfy my PE requirement," he says. "Now I find that I really look forward to it."

Seeking Harmony
Michael Lombardo

MIND OVER MATTER: Michael Lombardo, director of physical education, knows where Reedies are coming from—he worked in the counseling center for two years.

A scent of jasmine wafts through the air as you pull off your shoes and shed your backpack. A mellow 12-string guitar plays softly in the background. Heather Clute, Reed's health and wellness coordinator, helps a science major settle into a giant massage chair that looks like it was just beamed down from the bridge of the USS Enterprise. The most persuasive measure of its comfiness is probably the student's sigh as she sinks deep into its caress.

Welcome to the Mind Spa—a dedicated space for relaxation where students can come and recharge their psychic batteries. In addition to the massage chair, the spa offers meditation tapes, soothing music, and a biofeedback lab where students can monitor their own heart rhythm and create "physiological coherence." (We're not sure what this is, either, but students seem to like it.)

With an infectious smile and the can-do spirit of a childbirth coach, Clute, the spa's den mother, is the kind of person who makes you feel more relaxed just being in the same room. She has a master's degree in health psychology, but her knowledge of nutrition and wellness stems from personal experience, too. In her 20s, she developed Type I diabetes; to stay healthy, she must constantly monitor her carbohydrate intake and manage her stress level. "I always knew this work was important," she says of her condition. "But now I know that for some people, this is life and death."

reed magazine logoDecember 2010