Graduate school is a trying experience for many. Nearly a third of us will experience psychological distress, and half of us are at risk of developing a serious psychiatric disorder (anxiety, depression, social isolation). Consistent exercise, especially social group exercise, is a great way to counteract these potential mental health risks.

Accordingly, I began Astronaut Training, a Brown University Graduate Student Council-sanctioned club to address this concern. Our group’s goal is to promote physical, mental and emotional health through social group exercise, all under the whimsical guise of training for an upcoming NASA mission. Since beginning this group in July 2015, I earned my Group Fitness Instructor certification to improve the quality of the workouts I lead, and to work with Brown Recreation in their group fitness program. Astronaut Training continues to grow and welcomes everyone, regardless of age or ability.

In 2019, I leveraged Astronaut Training with my Graduate Community co-Fellowship in Health and Wellness, to spearhead a University-wide campaign to eliminate the financial barrier to the group fitness program offered by the University. Thanks to the Graduate Student Council, the Medical Student Senate, my co-Fellowship budget, a community-crowned first place prize at the Brown Student Agency Inspire Award (pitch below), we were able to raise enough capital to pay for all Graduate and Medical students to receive free group fitness passes in the 2019-2020 year.

This year, I partnered with Brown Dining Services to create a culinary workshop that teaches Graduate students how to cook healthful, budget-friendly meals. Learning how to fuel and care for ourselves in Graduate school will set us up for a healthier, more nourished life. Our first workshop in August was a great success and we look forward to continuing the momentum during the school year!