Fit.Green.Happy. and Mountain Challenge help students take baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle

This spring, as tulips bloom across campus and final projects loom underneath, new projects and series are coming into bloom at Mountain Challenge, as both new and long-time staff work to welcome springtime and offer a sense of connection to the highlands. 

Former Maryville College student and new yoga and meditation instructor, Alaina Tipton ‘17, says  “I am grateful to be involved with Camp 4 and to start teaching yoga on campus! I spent all of 2023 going through a yoga teacher training in Knoxville. Yoga & meditation has been such a healing experience for me. I want to share that healing with our MC community… this is coming from me, a former MC student who did NOT use resources… and I wish I had!” 

Following her first successful workshop this past Wednesday, Alaina will be offering weekly yoga and meditation classes with Camp 4 every Wednesday at 5 pm for the remainder of spring semester, weather allowing. 

Utilizing resources doesn’t have to be all at once, or even in large increments, and oftentimes isn’t a one-time deal— and Mountain Challenge staff are well aware of this principle. In fact, it’s a guiding principle to their programming.

“I’ve been working with FitGreen and Happy for about 7 years,” says Jackie Eul, part time Assistant Director of Mountain Challenge. “The program works the way it does because it sees baby steps as strategic and intentional. Everything we do is by baby steps… sometimes, the only thing I can do for myself and the world right now is go to bed by 9 pm, or journal for 5 minutes.” 

What do baby steps towards the common goal of a healthy, interconnected campus look like for Mountain Challenge and Fit.Green.Happy. Programming? It could look like a workshop series on healthy sleeping habits, stress management tools preceding finals, or simply a walk outside to stimulate movement, supported by peers and faculty. 

Audrey Lovin, nutrition specialist and workshop leader, said, “People don’t like things done to them, they like things done with them… Movement should be fun and enjoyable; I want us to find ways to form practices to support that.” 

For Lovin, this passion finds fruition in a three-part series coming up in April, featuring hour-long sessions including walking trails, entry-level biology and wildlife science workshopping, and practices in guided meditation and stretching. 

“There are so many benefits to being outside,” Lovin said. “Mindfulness and coping, presence, and being connected to the world and your own body… so many times, we do not listen to or recognize the cues of our own body.” 

Guided meditation and stretching are some of the ways Mountain Challenge programmers are improving connection between mind and place, but not the only ones- some methodology takes places on a much more personal, intimate note on a needs-basis. 

“Tentatively we have planned a stress reduction/ sleep skills planned for 8 pm at somebody’s dorm. We want people to know that their resources are there for them, we are here for what you all need, feel free to reach out to anyone, we will make it a good fit for you!” Lovin said.  

There is much to be excited for in Mountain Challenge’s  future, both in small, incremental programming, large additional events promoting wellness, and new staff. 

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