Exercise Science students gain experience as personal trainers through USF FIT Program
by Nada Blassy
This semester, students at USF Campus Recreation may have noticed an atypical duo amongst them.
On a journey toward improved health and wellness, College of Education Dean Robert Knoeppel, PhD, was paired with Exercise Science major Joseph McMiller as part of the FIT Program, an 8-week training program that helps USF employees develop an exercise routine while also providing student trainers with real-world experience working with clients.
Created in 2005, the FIT Program pairs seniors in USF’s Exercise Science program with faculty and staff members of the university as a part of the program’s course, “Individualized Fitness and Wellness Program.” Through the FIT Program, the students help their clients complete fitness evaluations, develop individualized training plans, and oversee a post-assessment to measure the results of their client’s efforts.
Maureen Chiodini, an instructor in the Exercise Science program, said the program is a beneficial addition to the students’ coursework and labs.
“We wanted the students to get some practical experiences before they stepped out into their internships,” Chiodini said. “It allows the students an opportunity to really apply all of the skills that they’ve learned from their books over the last year and a half.”
As a first-time participant in the program, Knoeppel said he enjoyed having McMiller train him on several machines and workout styles.
“Joe has helped me reach a lot of my goals,” Knoeppel said. “He taught me how to design my own workout, and he got me back on a regular exercise routine.”
McMiller said the experience of working with Knoeppel has provided him hands-on experience in building relationships with the clients he works with.
“He’s honestly making it very easy,” McMiller said. “I just make it applicable, and we meet in the middle in a great way.”
McMiller said he appreciates how Knoeppel provides him with encouraging advice along the way.
“Knowing when I’m getting feedback from him, it’s not just from the perspective of ‘client’ and ‘personal trainer.’ He’s coming from an educator’s perspective,” McMiller said.
As the fall semester comes to a close and the training program wraps-up, Knoeppel said he was glad to have such a great experience.
“I think my strength has really improved, my fitness has improved. I feel really good,” Knoeppel said. “I’ve had a really great weight-loss and so I’m hoping I can stick with it for the rest of the year.”