Starting in mid-September, I, along with another volunteer named Taz, have been running a men’s fitness class at the Saida Center. Inspired by the women’s fitness class, that was already taking place, Taz and I felt that it would also benefit the men of the community to have such a class.

Numerous studies show that exercise benefits not only the body, but the mind as well. In the 1 January 2013 issue of Comprehensive Physiology, Gomez-Pinilla and Hillman in their article “The Influence of Exercise on Cognitive Abilities” conclude, “that exercise is a strong promoter of cognitive health in humans.” As such, the benefits of this program extend past physical health, but also towards greater cognitive health as well.

As we meet only twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) we emphasize whole body workouts. We’ll start with leg exercises, move to core, and finish with upper body. Some days we emphasize doing the exercises to failure and others we will emphasize more of a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) approach. No matter the approach that day, we emphasize hard work and the men have been willing to do the necessary work to reap the benefits of the class.

One of Taz and my concerns is that as we approach the end of our volunteer terms, there may not be anyone to take over the class. It may benefit future volunteers to know that, not only will they teach in more of an academic setting (English, Math, etc) but there are also extra-curricular activities available. In the Saida Center, we are also actively looking at adding a chess club, music, art, and other activities that may benefit the students and community, not only academically, but in all aspects of life.

Written by Joshua Ahn, a volunteer in Saida,  Lebanon. Interested in joining us to volunteer? Click here to learn more.