With one lap left, Brandon Golden pushed through the pain and perspiration to his own hypothetical finish line – the end of his second year of Fit Camp.
Or so he thought. At the end of the lap, his trainer asked if he wanted to do one last hour of weight circuits.
Panting and blinking as sweat ran down his face, Golden said, “Sure, why not?”
After losing 60 pounds, Golden’s willingness to keep striving seemed typical. However, this hadn’t always been the case.
Golden always struggled with his weight growing up; by the time he began his sophomore year at West Virginia University, he weighed 413 pounds.
“Living in a college town, there is such a convenience for fast food. You look in any direction and you are likely to see a restaurant, maybe even a few,” Golden said. “And being a student, the low price of these foods are also a convenience.”
To counteract this excessive weight gain, Golden turned to the WVU Student Recreation Center in the spring of 2011 for help. After having taken some personal training sessions with the certified student staff, his trainer suggested he take part in Fit Camp, which is designed for WVU students like Golden, and faculty and staff who have a considerable amount of weight to lose.
Fit Camp is an eight-week program held in the summer that offers its participants personal training sessions, nutrition coaching and indoor and outdoor group workouts.
Since his participation in the summer of 2011, Golden chose to participate again in this year’s program to push his limits even farther.
“During the first year, I wasn’t sure what to expect ? so I tended to limit myself on what I could do just to get by,” he said. “This year, I knew how much hard work was needed, and I understood what was expected of me. I loved the feeling of accomplishment that Fit Camp gave me the first year, so this year was a chance to do even more.”
Golden acquired the help of Devon Davis, a senior multidisciplinary studies major from Gerrardstown focusing in personal training, sports and exercise psychology and communication studies. As a certified personal trainer and the coordinator of the Fit Camp program this year, Davis took it upon himself to motivate everyone to finish the program for their own satisfaction.
“Everyone in the program is different. Brandon, for example, played football in high school, so he seemed to respond better to that style of training,” Davis said. “Other people just need someone to tell them what to do, and then they bust their butts at whatever it is.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to get everyone to push themselves, for themselves.”
Davis said running the program taught him a lot about himself as well as what it really meant to be a personal trainer.
“In the beginning, I saw it as my job to get these people to lose weight,” he said. “But, toward the end when I had come to know them and understand their personalities, it became more than just my job. I wanted to help my new friends to reach their goals.”
To give his participants an extra boost one morning, Davis researched the steps it took from the street level up to the top of the Empire State Building and incorporated this knowledge into a 6:15 a.m. group workout on Law School Hill.
“Together we made it to the top floor of the tallest building in New York City, and back down. When we finished, I saw that everyone was extremely tired and some even seemed a bit mad that I would make them walk up so many stairs,” Davis said. “But once I told them all that they had walked the 1,860 steps to the top of the Empire State Building and back, they all smiled and cheered, forgetting about being so exhausted. It was definitely worth it, and I was proud of them all.”
Golden is just one of many students that has had success from Fit Camp. Katie Williams, a 2009 communications studies graduate from Dunbar who now resides in Tampa, Fla. was able to take what she learned and apply it to her daily life.
“Fit Camp taught me that success in weight loss is primarily self-motivationally driven. When I initially began working out with my trainer, Nina, before starting Fit Camp, I weighed 286 pounds,” Williams said. “When I left the Fit Camp program, I had dropped down to 223.”
Working out and eating healthily are things that have remained a part of Williams’ daily life, as she still sees a personal trainer once a week and attends the local gym several times a week. She said her healthy eating habits are better now than ever before.
“WVU students are lucky. They may not realize that not all colleges take the route that WVU takes to help their students with fitness programs. I went on to complete my master’s degree at another university after graduating from WVU, and that college charged for all their personal training and boot camp programs,” William said. “The fact that WVU offers programs like these for free or at a minimal cost is incredible.”
Williams said freshmen should take advantage of the wide variety of fitness courses such as Zumba and spinning offered at the center in order to avoid the dreaded weight gain.
“If you’re afraid that you’ll look silly doing the workout, just remember that everyone looks ridiculous while working out,” she said. “You’re hoisting metal bars with weights attached to it, or dancing, and in my case, badly, to fantastically upbeat music. Just let yourself get lost in the moment, and you’ll soon enough forget that you think you look absurd.”
In recent years, the center has opened the program to faculty and staff after having received many requests. Other programs offered at the center include the Freshman Fit-Teen program held in the fall semester as well as Physique7 in the spring semester, which finishes up just in time for Spring Break.
Like Williams, Golden has taken the skills he learned from Fit Camp and applied it to his daily life.
“The biggest thing they have taught me is anything is possible – as long as you set your mind out on your goal, there is nothing but yourself that can stop you from obtaining it.”
By Mel Moraes
CONTACT: Nancy Oliverio; Student Recreation Center
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