Employee Fitness Program Helps Both Clients and Students Reach Goals
Exercise science students gain real-world training in on-campus facility, free for faculty/staff use.
Senior exercise science major Taylor Mangino found herself in a surprising role reversal this semester: the client she would be guiding through personal training in the College’s Employee Fitness Program (EFP) was her former professor.
“At first, finding out I was training one of my previous professors was a bit nerve-racking,” said Mangino. But she embraced the opportunity to utilize her own expertise and step into the teaching role.
“Throughout the semester, our client-trainer relationship has grown stronger, and I found that I was enjoying not only creating the exercise prescriptions for her but really seeing her make progress and reach her health and wellness goals,” Mangino said.
The EFP is a free space for College employees and alumni to exercise. It was created in spring 2013 in conjunction with PEP 455: Practicum for Exercise Programming, to provide hands-on experience for exercise science majors prior to their capstone internship. The students conduct health assessments — blood pressure, heartrate, body composition, strength, flexibility, and more — and develop exercise programs tailored to each client.
“They get to apply these skills in real situations, not just on their peers in lab,” said Associate Professor of Exercise Science Elizabeth Lenz, who directs the EFP and co-teaches the class. “The practicum experience solidifies for most that, yes, this is the field for them, and helps them figure out what they want to do next.”
Mangino’s next step is a nursing degree — but the practicum has sparked a new interest in personal training, which she now plans to continue pursuing part time.
Senior Kwesi Tabiri also plans to continue working as a trainer, while going to chiropractic school.
“This will give me my first foot in the door,” he said. “I like helping people reach their health goals, and teaching them how to reach those goals.”
His favorite memory involves one such teaching moment.
“One of my clients, before she came in, she didn’t have any idea how to lift, and she was intimidated,” he said. “Now, she can go to the gym by herself. She has perfect form; she got better and stronger.”
Julie Hunt, secretary for the School of Arts and Sciences, has participated in the EFP since its second year.
“The students I have worked with have been very encouraging and pushed me to go beyond my usual workout,” she said.
While Hunt has long been active on her own, she has seen the students help clients from all backgrounds.
“It’s wonderful to see these young students working with adults of all ages,” said Hunt. “Especially when a student is working with a retiree, it’s nice to see two very different generations interacting and learning from each other.”
Lenz says this type of programming is more commonly affiliated with master’s degree programs, so Brockport’s undergraduates are gaining an early advantage — and internship supervisors are noticing.
“When we talk to internship sites, they make it obvious they have seen a difference from the practicum, with soft skills like communication and confidence in engaging with adults,” Lenz said. “[The supervisors] don’t have to spend as much time teaching the students the basics. Before this class existed, students entering internships were hesitant, not as confident in their skills.”
Mangino is grateful for how the program has helped to shape her career goals.
“I encourage employees to take advantage of the program, because not only is it free to use, but it is beneficial to both the client and the student,” said Mangino. “I know if I didn't have clients, I may not have realized my passion for personal training.”
The program will reopen at the start of the fall semester and welcomes new participants.