At the start of her first semester last fall at MIT Sloan School of Management, Yscaira Jimenez MBA ’14, an avid athlete, wanted to create a Capoeira martial arts club for MIT Sloan students interested in learning the Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines dance, defense and acrobatics. With the help of classmate Lior Paritzky MBA ’14, Jimenez broadened the scope of her plan, and the two resurrected the previously defunct Health and Fitness Club for all MIT students.
The club started with just 30 students, but word quickly spread and 50 students had joined by the end of the fall semester. Jimenez and Paritzky hope to offer a variety of activities and events to the community and turn unhealthy habits into positive and enduring lifestyle changes.
“We want to increase awareness of healthy lifestyle choices — including physical activities and nutrition. Our goal is to help both MIT Sloan and the MIT community be healthier — while having fun,” says Jimenez, who participates in international Capoeira competitions.
The club has already offered yoga classes, meditation classes, a Capoeira workshop, advice on healthy food options, and visits by guest speakers. The latter have included a nutritionist as well as a former professional athlete and current NFL scout.
Paritzky, who admits to having had an unhealthy lifestyle until recently, wants to help MIT Sloan students focus on the benefits of healthy eating. He gets up at 5:30 a.m. four days a week to exercise and is a member of the Ski and Snowboarding Club.
“Every aspect of my life changed for the better when I started focusing on healthy eating. Staying healthy is important when you have a busy schedule — as many MIT Sloan students do,” Paritzky says. “We want to help students and give advice to anyone who wants to eat healthy and be fit. We really want to change the food culture at MIT Sloan and make sure students are aware that pizza and burritos are not the only options available for events.”
The two have formed a partnership with an organic restaurant in Central Square called Life Alive Urban Oasis and Café to provide a discount on food for club events. The club also arranged for a discount to VIM Fitness, a premium gym also located in Central Square. This is an exclusive deal for MIT Sloan students.
Jimenez and Paritzky are planning more events for this semester, including group trips to the grocery store and Haymarket Square, cooking classes, and workout sessions with other club members. The club is also considering offering flamenco and belly dancing lessons.
“We also plan to bring the founder of P90X, Tony Horton, to campus,” says Jimenez. “P90X is a popular workout that combines cross-training, weight training and martial arts, with nutrition. In addition, the club plans to participate in the Brazilian C-Function with a Capoeira demo to be held February 21 at Walker Memorial.”
Jimenez and Paritzky are part of a handful of first-year MBA students leading a student club this year, says Jenifer Marshall, associate director of the Student Life Office at MIT Sloan. “I’m thrilled that they were eager to bring the Health and Fitness Club back to the School,” Marshall says. “They are passionate about having a healthy community and I believe students will benefit from the club’s activities. It’s also great way to have fun and meet students from other MIT Sloan programs.”
“We’re excited about the support the School is showing us,” says Jimenez.
Paritzky adds, “We welcome questions about nutrition, food choices, health, and workout tips. Students should feel free to approach either of us with these types of questions.”
The Health and Fitness Club is open to all MIT students and their significant others. Email the club officers for more information at HFofficers@sloan.mit.edu.