Harper College

A Personal Training Win-Win: Reaching Your Goals, Reaching a Student’s Goals

Training SessionThe reasons to work with a personal trainer are, literally, personal. Perhaps you want to learn how to exercise safely and effectively or need someone in your corner encouraging you. Maybe you need to be accountable to someone to keep working out or someone to develop a plan that will help you achieve your personal goal.

In Sarah DeMay’s case, she had recently had a baby and although she wanted to look good for her upcoming wedding, she really wanted to increase her strength and overall health. She had a gym membership, but wasn’t taking advantage of it. She knew she could benefit from personal training. Sarah was in luck. Last December, Harper put out a call for faculty and staff members who wanted to participate in the Personal Training program practicum that would pair employees with students working on their personal training certificate. Sarah signed up and was paired with a student, who surprisingly was not the traditional-aged student she had pictured.

“I was thrilled to be paired with Cindy Burrows” said Sarah. Cindy had recently retired from 33 years of teaching and decided to pursue personal training as a way to continue to use her teaching and interpersonal skills. “We are all living longer. I wanted to make sure to continue to live well. I had always been physically active, both in my work and as a ballet dancer, but I was scared of the gym — all those machines and grunting,” said Cindy. “So becoming a personal trainer was a way to demystify it and help others live a healthy lifestyle. Now I see the gym as an empowering place – literally and figuratively.”

At their first meeting, Cindy did a health assessment and discussed Sarah’s goals. From there, Cindy developed workouts that were personalized for Sarah. She taught Sarah proper form and technique and introduced her to the importance of resistance training. Cindy also listened to Sarah about how she was feeling and would adjust the workouts based on Sarah’s feedback.

“In the whole year that I had a membership at another club, I maybe went two or three times. What a waste of money,” said Sarah. “In the four months of working with Cindy, I worked out 2 -3 times a week. I never wanted to miss a workout – not only was Cindy so supportive and encouraging, but I knew she was counting on me for her practicum. I didn’t want to let her down. It was great motivation to keep going.” Even though the practicum is over, Sarah is not stopping. Armed with a plan from Cindy, she is continuing to work out because she is feeling the benefit. “Before I started working out, I had taken my baby to the zoo, and I remember feeling like I had run a marathon. Recently, I went to a Star Wars convention, and I realized that I didn’t feel winded and my back didn’t hurt. I can tell I am moving better,” noted Sarah.

And Cindy’s story continues as well. A member of the first cohort in the Personal Training program, she successfully completed the 26-credit-hour certificate and passed the National Strength and Conditioning Association-Certified Personal Trainer exam. She now has a job as a personal trainer at Harper’s Health and Recreation Center. “Jonathan Loos, the Personal Training program coordinator, was really helpful. He talked through my workout plans and helped me learn how to push my client without overextending her,” noted Cindy. “Jonathan believed in me and helped me believe I could do this.” The program graduated 10 students in its first year. Another – much larger – cohort is currently enrolled in the program. Watch for information on how you can be part of the practicum to work on your personal fitness goals and help a student become a personal trainer.

Applications to participate in the spring 2019 Personal Training practicum will open mid-November. If you have any questions about the program, contact Jonathan Loos, program coordinator, 847.925.6957. 

Last Updated: 3/14/24