When running a fitness department within campus recreation, it is all about being creative. It is essential to come up with new and innovative programming ideas to not only keep students coming back for more, but also keep them educated on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The Ohio State University Recreational Sports department surveys its participants regularly in order to assess their wants and needs. They use this feedback to create new programs or improve existing ones.
One of the newer programs is the Personal Trainer Q&A Panels. They launched Q&A series last fall and run about 2 -3 panels per semester. Since the programs and series in fitness are free — outside of personal training — they have the ability to be creative and try new sessions, topics and ideas.
Alycia Israel, the personal training coordinator at OSU shares her thoughts and insights on the program and what they have learned so far.
What was the motivation for starting the lecture series? And what are the benefits to participants?
AI: We wanted to provide a more educational experience for our students and patrons in terms of fitness and exercise information. These also provide the attendee with an open forum to ask a panel of personal trainers anything fitness related. We have a general theme for each lecture, but attendees are asked to bring any questions they have so our personal trainers can answer them.
Do the topics vary? How do you decide on the topics?
AI: Yes, the topics vary. Some examples are: Breaking Fitness Myths and Am I Doing this Right? We base the current topics on trends in the industry, survey responses we get from students, members and patrons. Sometimes the personal trainers have ideas for a topic as well.
Have you come across any challenges with running the program? How did you work to overcome them?
AI: Because the class is lecture style and more conversational based, we find some students are just tired of being in a classroom setting. So while it does offer a unique style of learning in terms of our programming, we find success better during some parts of the semester than others. Also, these programs are free and there is a little less accountability with free programs. The students and members have to be motivated and interested in the topic in order to come and try and get something out of the experience. Overall, we feel that even if we reach a few people and can help them learn more about health and wellness as it pertains to personal training, then we determine that a success.
What advice would you give others who might want to start doing something similar?
AI: I would suggest using an RSVP system of some sort, rather than walk ins only. This will allow you to gauge the level of interest and design your series accordingly. For example, if we have a smaller group (less than 15) the trainers can usually take the group to the fitness floor and do some hands on work. However, with a larger group that wouldn’t be feasible in our spaces. So it is helpful to know ahead of time what to expect.