Legends of the Ball

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A COCC fitness class  challenges students to the max……Sometimes things get nasty

Chris Browning
The Broadside

Total Fitness Instructor Jennifer Cruickshank with the infamous “barf ball.” (Photo by Patrick Iler)

A handful of Central Oregon Community College students get together twice a week for the ultimate physical challenge: a “Total Fitness” class. It’s an intense workout where you can meet new friends, play hard and strive for your physical fitness goals. But when a student is pushed beyond their maximum threshold, sometimes they need to stop, take a deep breath, get a drink of water… and vomit.
“I actually like the term ‘barf’ better,” said Jennifer Cruickshank, instructor of Total Fitness.
In most classes, vomiting is frowned upon, but when a student tosses their cookies in this class, they have the great honor of signing the infamous “barf ball”—a right of passage among many Total Fitness enthusiasts.
“It’s awesome,” said student Robert Casey about the rugby ball covered with signatures. “You have to sign the ball in front of the class. There is a lot of clapping and cheering. It’s very ceremonial.”
But the class also sets a bar. Not all upchuckers get to sign the ball.
“It can’t just be a little bit of barf, not just some spittle or something. No running to the bathroom either. You have to chunk hard and you have to do it in front of everybody.” said Cruickshank.
The class is suited for athletes looking for a serious challenge.
“It’s hard. Believe me,” said Casey. “Sometimes we do these things called ‘Victories.’ They’re these crazy sprints up and down the soccer field and through the disc golf course. Or else we run up and down the College Way hill. Stairs, sprints—you name it. We push each other to the max and sometimes even a little further than that.”
But Cruickshank doesn’t just sit and blow her whistle. She gets in on the action too.
Cruickshank, who played competitive rugby at the university level, has been teaching the 15-year-old course since 2010. The first hour of class is devoted to hard conditioning, usually long-distance runs or sprint workouts, and then the students play a few games of touch rugby.
“We’re all in this together. There’s a lot of camaraderie going on. And it’s not about making people puke,” said Cruickshank.

(Contact: cbrowning@cocc.edu)

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