Caroline Traylor, The Paisano
Dance enthusiasts and hip-hop lovers, rejoice! There is a spunky and motivating group exercise instructor at the Rec who wants you to come and sweat with her.
Born in Katy, Texas, Ginger Kneale decided on a college career at UTSA because the idea of a new city excited her and San Antonio was “just far away enough” from home. As a junior kinesiology major with a minor in English and dance, Ginger aspires to become a physical therapist but says that as long as she enters the health and fitness field, she will be a “happy human.”
Ginger describes herself as a late bloomer because she discovered her love for dancing her freshman year of high school. She spent hours in her dad’s garage honing her dance skills and learning technique and flexibility tricks from her acrobat friend. She eventually made Lieutenant of her school’s drill team, the Katy High School Bengal Brigade, using a dance she picked up from Napoleon Dynamite. Ginger attributes her success in obtaining this position to her sense of humor.
“I think I won them over by making them laugh, and that’s still how it is for me. As a white girl teaching hip-hop, you have got to make some people laugh,” she said in between giggles.
Now she uses that experience to instruct a wide array of classes at the Campus Recreation Center (“The Rec”) including: Dance Fusion, Core, Kickboxing, Total Body Toning, and her personal favorite, Cardio Grooves. She also substitutes for Zumba classes on occasion. She says that Cardio Grooves (a fast-paced hip hop cardio class) is her favorite because she can get “everyone hyped.”
“I can tell people let go and aren’t afraid to come to the front of the studio and be in their zone,” said Kneale.
Unlike most exercise classes, Cardio Grooves, with its dim lighting and stereo blasting Missy Elliot, feels more like dancing in a club with friends rather than working out.
“I did what I had fun doing and decided if I was having fun, it might catch on,” Kneale said. “I don’t want people to feel like they’re exercising. They sweat more that way; it’s a secret.”
Another secret to Ginger’s success is keeping the doors to the studio open. When she began instructing, she had only three participants, but she discovered when she left the doors open, people were drawn to the fun music, would peer in the doorway and almost always come to class the following week. Because of the fun atmosphere she has created and her upbeat style of instructing, she now has “regulars” whose attendance she can always depend on for a good time.
Ginger says that the best thing about working for the university is her direct involvement with the campus.
“I’m a part of the community,” Kneale said. “I love this school because I’m a part of it and that gives me a purpose.”
Ginger enjoys having a big group of participants because it remings her that she’s on the right track.
“Working at the Rec has set my life path and made me realize how passionate I am about health and fitness,” she said. “Realizing my passions, being a part of the community and having people smiling and dancing to the same music as me is such a cool feeling.”
Ginger describes her work environment as familial and motivating.
“I have some great people above me that I aspire to be like,” Kneale said. “We’re like a big family. I go out with my coworkers and we have a good time.”
When she’s not instructing, Ginger enjoys attending some of her coworker’s classes.
“Allesandra’s Zumba class is really awesome,” Kneale said. “Cycling is great, if you’re into that. Take anything that Magen or Alison teach. I love all of my coworkers!”
She says that the Rec has many amenities that most students do not even realize are available to them such as Instructional Classes and cooking classes.
As a self-proclaimed advocate for body positivity, Ginger advises people to be diligent in their fitness journey, but out of self-love, not hate.
“It’s so sad when people go to the gym and they see it as a negative place,” Kneale expressed. “Everyone is there to better themselves; no one is there to maintain. If you’re going to the gym it’s the right thing to do, but don’t do the right thing for the wrong reasons.”
Ginger says that she used to work out for superficial reasons like obtaining a “hot” body, but now she goes for the sense of release and the peace of mind exercising gives her.
“Don’t go to look good, but to feel good,” Kneale said. “Accepting progress is really hard for people but look at the small changes you’ve made.
Ginger wants her students to understand that despite the fallbacks, everyday is new and they are the only ones in charge of what motivates them to be fit.
Ginger acknowledges that balancing work and school while maintaining an active lifestyle in college is difficult, especially because it’s not always the choice of the majority. She knows the struggle of going out with friends and the group going to Whataburger afterwards, but she sees her physical fitness as an asset when balancing school and work.
“My car is a mess, I always need to do laundry, but if I wasn’t fit I couldn’t be in all the places I need to be,” Kneale said. Thank God for laptops because I can be anywhere. I’ve done homework at parties. School comes first, no matter how hard it is to place it there.”
When she isn’t dancing, the self-described movie buff loves trying new foods and binge-watching series like Broad City. If she could have a dance party with anyone in the world she would invite Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Weezy, J.Lo and Missy Elliot.
You can find her class schedule and all of the other classes the Rec has to offer at https://campusrec.utsa.edu/fitness-wellness/group-exercise.