I never studied exercise science. I have not even taken a science class since AP Physics my junior year at Culver. I certainly did not plan to become a personal trainer. I wanted to be a spy. Life, however, does not move in a linear fashion. In my professional field of health and fitness, I am largely self-taught. Sure, I dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s with my certifications for liability and insurance purposes, but most of my fitness knowledge comes from daily reading of various industry publications, interactions with some of the best professionals and coaches in my field, and from my own athletic endeavors. It also comes from my diverse interests in the arts, politics, and travel. I attribute much of my success in my continuing education and my clients’ results from the foundation laid at Culver and its health and wellness program.
Culver’s mission emphasizes the development of mind, spirit, and body, and its wellness program is testament to that creed. I can teach a client to squat properly in one session and I can teach a monkey to entertain that client while he squats during subsequent sessions. It takes more, however, to train the client to show up consistently, to show up and smile, and to eliminate, change, and/or improve habits at home when no one is watching.
Culver taught me how to educate my clients. It met me where I needed to be met and pushed me to tap into that extra 10% as often as possible. It changed my behaviors and created habits. Culver provided a structure for me to get enough sleep at night, although I think I slept less at Culver than in college and even working on a political campaign. It provided balanced meals in the dining hall, although I was quite fond of the cookie dough cyclones from Renfroes, which, thankfully, is now a bike shop. It required that I show up and move every afternoon between class and supper, whether on the field, in the gym, or on the dance floor.
The opportunity to be an athlete was one of the greatest components of Culver. It was one of the reasons I chose to attend Culver rather than stay home in New Jersey. At Culver, I could run, dive, dance, and lift. Because there were so many sports and intramurals to choose from, it was not necessary to be a lifelong athlete to make a team. My sophomore year, I wanted to try something new – either fencing or diving. I decided on the latter. Since graduating from Culver, I have continued to pursue new physical challenges from a marathon to powerlifting. It is easy to make time for those physical pursuits because a work-life balance became an established habit at Culver.
Athletic agility transcends the field to life. Being a successful athlete at Culver required more than a great game-time performance. It meant meeting your academic obligations on time so that you could focus on the game. It meant eating well because food is fuel. It meant performing under pressure and picking up your teammates when they stumbled. Being a Culver athlete meant creating a support network within a network. Culver athletes are busy, obstacles are just another part of the day, and experiences are shared amongst classes, dorms, units, clubs, and teams.
When coaching a weight-loss client, I cannot focus on only the physical metrics. I have to address any psychological obstacles and create a support network. I seek to build a team around every client with friends, family members, and peers with similar goals. I need to be as flexible and agile as my client, recognizing both the art and science of strength. A mind, body, spirit approach yields infinitely greater results than one that is measured only by a scale. I aim to make fitness fun and challenging, as Culver did for me, and structure training sessions as though I am choreographing a dance. It is about moving better in training and in life. By using weights to strengthen the body, I increasingly demand more of my clients, thus honing the mind and spirit.
This summer, I had the great opportunity of training a fellow Culver alum. Training him was a little different than others, however, because more often then not I had to be the little voice in his ear saying slow down and that is enough. We Culver alums are very goal oriented, but, like we always tell the senior class, it is important to enjoy and make the most of the process. When reminiscing about our Culver days, he remarked, “Your fitness center is where my rifle range used to be.” While Culver’s values and lessons have been steadfast, its facilities and programs have progressed significantly over the years.
Since graduating from Culver, I have had the privilege of spending a few summers teaching at Culver Summer Schools and Camps. During those sunny months on Lake Maxinkuckee, I was able to experience the progress of Culver’s wellness program and contribute to it. I enjoyed the fresh produce from the Academies’ garden served in the dining hall. I incorporated strength training for Upper Camp swimmers. One of my swimmers asked me to talk to her unit about making healthy food choices in the dining hall. I corralled runners at the Woodcraft track meets. I even was able to teach spinning classes for faculty and staff during the lunch hour.
Health and fitness has been a growing trend in the United States and Culver is taking the lead amongst its peers in secondary education. Culver alums will continue to be successful if they remain as agile as they did in their student years on the playing field. Are you in a fitness slump? Harken back to your Culver days. Whether you were in the best shape of your life as a Culver Eagle or you were a little soft around the edges from the temptation of late nights and ice cream, the lessons apply:
1) Set just one goal at a time; write it down.
2) Make it a daily habit.
3) Have a contingency plan.
4) Tell everyone your goal.
5) When you fall down, get back up and go after it again.
Originally published in the Culver Alumni Magazine in 2013.
Christine & Angel
Aisle or window
He likes the window; she likes the aisle. Match made at FL350. Here are some other travel preferences. Full disclaimer: These are affiliate links, meaning the authors are rewarded for referrals (usually in the form of a credit to use more of the product/service themselves). Pinky promise: Recommendations are simply the best.
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