Berkeley perk: (almost) free workout classes for staff, faculty

A woman stretches

The WorkFit program gives staff and faculty a convenient and subsidized way to stay fit right on UC Berkeley’s campus. (UC Berkeley photos by Irene Yi)

Hunching over a computer or sitting in meetings all day can make for sore backs, tired eyes and growing waists. But UC Berkeley offers staff and faculty dozens of ways a week to lift, stretch and sweat away those lunch-at-your-desk blues.

The WorkFit program costs just $30 a semester — or $20 for a half-semester period, which started Oct. 15 — and lets staff and faculty attend as many of the 56 weekly group exercise classes as they want each week.

The classes include yoga, barre, Zumba and total-body conditioning and are held before work, at lunch and after work in rooms and outdoor spaces across campus.

How to sign up

A class schedule and more details can be found on the WorkFit website

“It’s fitness that is just so, so affordable,” Lisa Spivak, a staffer at the Haas School of Business, said after a recent Tuesday circuit-training class in the Hearst Gym. “It’s a great perk of being a staff member at Berkeley; I don’t think any other place has something like this that’s just designed for employees.”

A man and woman exercise

Classes feature total-body workouts, yoga, barre, stationary cycle or Zumba, among others.

Instructors help students of all ages and fitness levels set goals, manage past injuries and push themselves.

“The reason I come teach here is because of the joy and positive energy that the people here bring,” said Delency Baker, an exercise instructor. “They’re so excited to be at work, but not really be at work — to be working for goals of their own, not their bosses.”

A man talks to a group of people

Instructor Delency Baker talks his class through proper stretching exercises.

Baker noted that faculty and staff of all experience and seniority levels attend his exercise classes, so vice chancellors can end up tossing medicine balls with admissions clerks. Everyone helps puts away the weights at the end of the class.

“People use WorkFit for different reasons, but they all come here, to the same place,” he said. “It’s very ‘Berkeley,’ in a sense.”

A group of people exercise in front of a mirror

Classes are designed for people at all fitness and skill levels.

Participants said they appreciated the convenience of having classes right on campus.

“Having these lunchtime workouts or after-work workouts gives us a chance to not skip out on exercise,” said Clarissa Mark, a CalTeach department adviser. “We have no excuse not to come to WorkFit, since it’s so easily accessible.”

A woman high fives colleagues

The classes are another chance for faculty and staff to connect outside of work. Many attend the same classes with the same group each week.