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University News

Faculty and Staff Sign Up for Physical Fitness


From Dateline (August 19, 2004)

Maria Hernandez
Maria Hernandez, operations coordinator in University Extended Education, works on her abdominals during a session of the Employee Wellness Program in the Kinesiology and Health Science Building. Miyahara was one of the inaugural class of participants in the program last spring. “They seem to really care for your health and optimize your health awareness,” she noted. “That’s really wonderful.” Both the spring and the summer sessions had about 90 participants attending sessions offered at noon and after 5 p.m. The fall session kicks off Aug. 23.

Waistband a little snug after a summer of barbecue and ice cream? Wishing that you had the time for a workout? A solution may be just footsteps away from your office.

Established last spring, the Employee Wellness Program offers university faculty and staff members the opportunity to participate in a variety of physical activities and health-related fitness assessments.

But that is only a small portion of the overall program, according to William C. Beam, associate professor of kinesiology and health science. Eventually, he says, there will be classes, workshops, lectures and consultations on such subjects as nutrition, stress management and smoking cessation.

“Our goal is to become a comprehensive program,” Beam says. For about 10 years, the Division of Kinesiology and Health Science has sought a way to offer faculty/staff such a program. The addition to the Kinesiology and Health Science Building offered a facility – the 5,000-square-foot Lifespan Wellness Center – to kick into action the fitness portion of the wellness program.

The fitness program is offered as classes, says Beam, to get people to think of it in the same way as an academic course – that there is an expectation of attendance and to develop relationships. “A big part of offering it as a class is that it gives participants some responsibility and ownership to come.”

“It’s a great thing in terms of morale,” says Diane Clemens-Knott, chair and professor of geological sciences, who adds that it’s a way of connecting with others beyond the office. “I’ve seen people that I met when I first came on campus but haven’t had the opportunity to see much of since then.”

So far, the program has operated with a steady core of about 60 individuals who signed up from the very beginning and have remained. Each session – spring and summer – have had about 90 participants total.

“It’s such a convenient location – just steps from my building,” says Susan Lasswell, director of information technology administration and communications, who works in the Pollak Library. “It’s hard to have an excuse to not go there.”

Bill Gayk, director of the university’s Center for Demographic Research, agrees about the convenience, as well as the state-of-the art resistance and cardiovascular exercise equipment. “I’ve participated in other employee fitness programs and they’ve had really old equipment – sometimes donated by the employees themselves.”

And like other participants in the program, he likes the flexibility of being able to switch days or times when something comes up. “I’ve tried to work out before or after work and found that the only time that really works for me is noon. But if I can’t make it then, I can go in at another time or another day.”

Participants can sign up for 10-week courses in strength and conditioning, women’s workout or stability ball. The one-hour sessions – limited to 30 individuals – are offered during each semester and through the summer and held on Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday schedules. Open hours are held on Fridays.

“It works well with my time,” adds Michael Riley, media production specialist in University Extended Education. “I feel better by going, and I get positive vibes every time I go. I can’t say enough about it.”

Participants set their own pace and goals with the guidance of graduate students majoring in fitness training.

“I think the kinesiology department is smart to offer the program,” says lead electrician Spencer Colman, who admits he didn’t have the motivation or drive to go to an off-campus fitness club after work. “It provides a means for employees to stay fit or improve their well-being – physical fitness is usually a factor in employee productivity – and at the same time provides student training. Everyone supports and encourages everyone else to keep at it.”

Beam says that the program has a three-fold purpose: wellness of the campus community and promotion of healthy life-styles and choices; a source of research for faculty members; and a way to train kinesiology students.

“I think it has really raised awareness of fitness on campus,” adds Lasswell.

Fall courses kick off Monday, Aug. 23. For more information on the program, go to http://hdcs.fullerton.edu/ewp.

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