Remember the days when challenges meant something fun – not something to overcome? The older we get, the more overwhelming our challenges can seem. But the Cougar Fit Summer 2022 Challenge changes all that – at least when it comes to our physical fitness and health!

The Cougar Fit Summer 2022 Challenge gives College of Charleston faculty and staff who are feeling a little overwhelmed by their fitness goals a great way not just to get started, but to stick with their fitness journey and see their progress along the way.

“Getting into a fitness routine is hard whether it’s been a few months or a few weeks since you’ve worked out,” says Sara Coleman ’17, fitness coordinator for Campus Recreation Services. “But, even if you feel weak and tired, you will get that strength and fitness back. You just have to know where to start.”

Sara Coleman

Sara Coleman, fitness coordinator for Campus Recreation Services

And, to help faculty and staff find their personal starting point, Coleman has created a series of assessment tests that can be performed at work or at home to measure their fitness levels and set practical fitness goals for the summer.

“Knowing the specifics can help you set realistic fitness goals, monitor your progress and maintain your motivation,” says Coleman, a certified fitness specialist (Trident Tech), certified exercise specialist (NASM), certified strength and conditioning specialist (NSCA), certified personal trainer (ACE) and group fitness instructor (ACSM) with an M.S. in health, exercise and sports science. “Once you know your starting point, you can plan where you want to go.”

The challenge – which faculty and staff can take on individually, in pairs or as a department/group – is tailored to participants’ fitness levels and to their work situation: whether employees work from home or commute to campus.

“For those choosing to do the one here at work, you would do all of the assessments here with me as your proctor,” says Coleman. “At-home participants will receive a detailed email, with weekly check-ins from yours truly.”

The one-hour assessments include a one-minute crunch-up test, a sit-and-reach test and the choice between a 1.5-mile jog or a one-mile walk. Vital signs like blood pressure and resting/exercise/recovery heart rate – as well as information like weight, height, VO2 max and BMI – will also be recorded.

In addition, challenge participants will set individual weekly accountability goals, and all results will be submitted to Coleman to keep participants accountable.

“The results can then be used to set fitness goals during the summer and track your progress and hold yourself accountable,” says Coleman. “Any positive adjustment for your health is a good goal. By having a goal, we have something to strive for and, in turn, this helps us to feel more optimistic because having clear goals causes us to feel less stressed and lessens the feelings of failure we put on ourselves. Having a clear focus allows us to feel like we have control over our lives and creates a positive mindset that’s crucial for achieving our goals.”

Sara Coleman Teaches HIIT

Sara Coleman ’17 teaches a Cougar Fit class.

The first round of assessments run through June 3, 2022, with reassessments conducted between Cougar Fit Summer Session 1 (June 6–29) and Summer Session 2 (July 6–Aug. 3) and then again at the end of Cougar Fit Summer Session 2.

RELATED: Learn more about Cougar Fit, the free group fitness class designed just for faculty and staff.

Cougar Fit is a free circuit training/HIIT-based class designed just for faculty and staff to provide a fitness challenge for all fitness levels and focuses on strength training and cardiovascular exercises for maximum weight loss and metabolic boosting, as well as correct form and technique for injury prevention.

Starting Monday, June 6, 2022, the 45-minute classes will be held at 5:15 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays in the George Street Gym classroom.

Cougar Fit Summer Session 1 (June 6–29) will be concentrating on core strength and flexibility and, of course, cardio.

“We want to build back what we may have lost during the semester,” says Coleman, noting that the class will include regressed and advanced exercises. “This session will be for all levels and will definitely be sweat sessions to bring back our individual strength.”

RELATED: Find out more about Coleman’s workouts and how she earned the moniker, Angel of Death.

After a break (June 30–July 5), Cougar Fit Summer Session 2 (July 6–Aug. 3) will concentrate on functional fitness, incorporating more resistance equipment.

“We will incorporate more resistance equipment and we will be introduced to how we can use our newfound strength and apply it toward our daily life,” says Coleman, adding that both sessions will concentrate on the fundamentals of fitness: balance, endurance, strength and flexibility.

“If your foundation isn’t right, you can’t improve. That’s why we’re going to bring it back to basics – so that we can then move on to the fun stuff,” she says, noting that, by the end of the summer, participants will feel accomplished and motivated – something worth celebrating. “As I always say, exercise should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment.”

And that’s how you make a challenge fun again!

Participation in the challenge is not required to attend Cougar Fit classes. To stay up to date on faculty/staff group fitness offerings – and to access additional workouts, tips and fitness facts – email Assistant Director of Fitness Bucky Buchanan ’08 at to gain access the Faculty & Staff Fitness Teams page.

To participate in the Cougar Fit Summer 2022 Challenge, email Sara Coleman at for the program packet and for the details for your first assessment.

Please remember to bring your Cougar Card to all classes and assessments.