New fitness class prepares THON dancers, volunteers

January 17, 2013

By Molly Sheerer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- By now most college students likely have pulled their fair share of all-nighters, but once the exam is over, students are free to crash. Penn State’s "no sleeping, no sitting" IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) is not only the equivalent of two all-nighters back-to-back, but THON regulations require participants to remain on their feet for the full 46 hours. Many young people may scoff at the idea of this being difficult, but those who have attempted or succeeded in staying awake and in attendance for the entire event know it’s no easy feat.

Many participants don’t adequately prepare themselves and either do not make it to the end of the marathon or get sick after. This year, new fitness classes are being offered jointly by THON and the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) to help prepare the bodies of the students involved in THON. The class's goal is to help them be in the best health possible and to help mitigate some of the grueling effects of being on one's feet for 46 straight hours.

Overall Morale Chairperson Melanie Sessa, in charge of a team of volunteers who keep dancers' spirits up -- and eyelids open -- offered some insight into the new THON Prep Class’s introduction and purpose.

“Together UPUA and THON started the new class as a way to promote health and physical fitness, not only for the dancers, but for all THON volunteers,” Sessa said. “We hope this class will help our volunteers prepare for the weekend and be in the best health to stand for the kids.”

According to Sessa, the 30-minute class starts off with warm-up exercises then proceeds to a short and intense cardio portion, raising one’s heart rate, and finishes off with core-strengthening work for posture and balance. The class rounds out the half-hour with stretches to keep students limber and loose for the 46 hours. Trained Penn State fitness instructors teach the classes.

This new class is offered Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6 to 6:30 in the White Building. Those with Penn State gym memberships are welcome to attend for free. The class costs $3 for those without gym memberships, and LionCash is accepted. The class welcomes both male and female participants, and those of all fitness levels are encouraged to attend.

To see photos from the Wednesday, Jan. 19, THON Prep Class, visit

  • Allie McIlvanie, a junior, instructed the THON Prep class on Jan. 16 in the White Building at University Park. To see more photos, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 22, 2013