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Training Class ‘Works Out’ Well for Students and Staff

Student trainers

July 2012


London Scott '12 played the cello for 18 years, but after a shoulder injury she suffered in an automobile accident made that impossible, the recent St. Ambrose graduate found a new instrument to tune.

The human body.

"This is something I really enjoy doing," Scott said after completing a spring semester kinesiology class that pairs student personal trainers with St. Ambrose staff and faculty willing to break a sweat as fitness trainees.

"It helps with critical thinking," said Scott, whose six weeks of training Vickie Logan, an administrative assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences, solidified Scott's interest in becoming a personal trainer. "It's not like the beginning classes where we get somebody's goals and problems on a sheet of paper. You actually have somebody with problems you have to adapt for every week.

"My client taught me that with the program I make up, there are going to be issues that I need to correct. You have to be ready to change at a moment's notice."

Learning from clients is the crux of the 400-level course called Exercise Prescription and Program Management, which is now in its tenth year as part of the kinesiology curriculum. The students enlist all they learned as underclassmen about the impact of aerobics, weight training and proper diet in helping their clients shed pounds, or regain health and mobility. Those clients, in turn, teach the students that life doesn't always follow textbook formulas.

Although Logan did the heavy lifting with Scott there to show her how, she was aware that she was teaching, too.

"I really wanted to get back into a program with age appropriate weights and exercises," Logan said. "This was a good chance to do that and help out the exercise science program too."

Heather Medema-Johnson, PhD, ATC, CSCS, said the personal training class has grown along with the exercise science program, which had 15 students when she joined the faculty eight years ago but had nearly 100 last year.

Alex Wignall hopes to be among the 80 percent of the training class graduates who move into health science graduate programs such as med school, physical therapy, occupational therapy or as a member of St. Ambrose's inaugural Master of Physician Assistant cohort. And he is confident the people skills he learned working alongside a client in the spring will serve him well in any of those fields.

"You learn a lot about people's motivations,'' he said. "What ticks them off. What they like. How to persuade them to do something they really don't want to do at all and get them to like it a little bit. Or at least tolerate it."

Medema-Johnson said providing that coaching and coaxing experience is the program's primary goal. A side benefit is a slimmer collective waistline for the university.

"I would say the average person loses about 5 pounds in the six weeks," she said. "But not everybody is aiming for weight loss. For some, it's more about improving fitness, improving health, finding ways to keep working out as part of their lifestyle."
-Craig DeVrieze

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