nick camacho

Heart disease, obesity and cancer are linked to inactive lifestyles making fitness essential to a healthy future.

While some might recognize the need to get fit, the problem is getting started.

The personal training program at the Cal Poly Rec Center gives people a jump-start on getting into shape. The program pairs each client with a trainer who will help design a workout for them tailored to the needs of their fitness goals.

“The majority just need someone to tell them what to do,” said Program Coordinator Nancy Clark. “Their attitude is ‘I want to do it right instead of wasting my time.’”

Clients can choose from six, 11, 16 or 21 sessions. The first session consists of fitness testing, goal setting and a questionnaire about personal habits such as sleep schedule, stress level and nutrition. After that, their workout is varied based on goals and comfort level at the gym. The clients set their own schedule and trainers work with them to develop a routine. They are trained on weight lifting techniques and progression, frequency and duration of cardiovascular training and the trainers maintain records for each client to track their progress.

“If you come and you sweat, you win,” said trainer Richard Smith, a kinesiology senior. “Once people start working out, they like it.”

While some people like to meet with a trainer once a week and then work out on their own, others like to have a trainer consistantly because it forces them to show up each time.

The program is based on a fixed number of sessions that a client pays up front. By the end of the sessions, clients have the tools they need to come to the gym on their own and keep meeting their fitness goals. But many sign up for more sessions because they like the accountability of having a trainer.

James Sangillo, an aerospace engineering graduate student, is working on his second set of sessions. He said he signed up because he wanted to know more about fitness and nutrition, and how to improve his workout.

“I wanted to know the proper way to exercise,” he said. “I didn’t really come to the gym very regularly.”

Clark said she tries to match up clients with trainers based on personalities and fitness goals. The personal training program is also an example of Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” motto because the trainers are students themselves. The client-trainer relationship is one of mutual benefit; the clients get in shape while the trainers get valuable experience in working with people. Many of the trainers are kinesiology or nutrition majors, and plan to go on to work in similar fields. All of them are required to be nationally certified by an organization like the American Council on Exercise or the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Clark said the one-on-one teaching experience has helped previous trainers reach their career goals, such as one who got into medical school.

Smith said that the job is a great way to improve people skills. He hopes to go into physical therapy.

“The rapport you build with a client is huge,” he said. “They are putting themselves into a vulnerable position, so you have to build a relationship with them.”

Anyone with access to the Rec Center can sign up for the program. Fees vary based on whether the client is student, faculty or staff. Students who can’t afford one-on-one training can opt to purchase group sessions with up to four people. Training in a group also serves to motivate clients to meet goals as a team.

“The gym is unfortunately an intimidating place,” Smith said. “If it’s something you haven’t experienced, a trainer is a great way to introduce you into this world.”

Anyone intereted in being personally trained at the Rec Center can contact Nancy Clark at 756-1789.

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