James Madison University

Personal Training Experience in the Kinesiology Department

Student Trainer Requirements:

  1. Be certified in CPR with AED
  2. Successfully completed KIN 421
  3. Be available during the late afternoon hours (approximately 3 – 6 pm)

Interested parties should contact Jana Walters (walterjr@jmu.edu) or Dr. Trent Hargens (hargenta@jmu.edu).

During the Spring 2013 semester, three students started a unique practical experience in Godwin Hall’s Crawford Fitness Lab. Under the supervision of Dr. Trent Hargens, Lydia Bracken, Liz Traynor and Josh Simons were matched with two personal training clients each and met with them regularly for the duration of the semester. Each student trainer was responsible for all pre-screening/health history, health related physical fitness testing, and preparation of an individually tailored exercise prescription. They were also responsible for altering the fitness plans as the semester progressed. Volunteer clients were recruited from the university community via bulk email. To promote this experience, each student trainer wrote a reflection on the experience.

Lydia Bracken

PHOTO: Lydia Bracken

How did you become interested in personal training?
I love the one-on-one interaction and direct positive impact I can have on someone’s life through personal training. Whether I am introducing someone to exercise for the first time in their life, helping them return to exercise after years away or simply helping them maintain their fitness, I know through personal training I can be a positive catalyst for their health and fitness goals. My interest in this experience specifically was through participating in KIN 421 last spring and wanting to keep all the ideas fresh in my mind while I prepare to graduate and move on into the field this May.

What has been the most exciting part of this experience for you?
I love knowing that I am a part of helping these two wonderful members of the JMU faculty achieve their fitness goals. Both of my clients have extensive previous experience with fitness but still appreciate the use of a trainer to challenge them and be creative with their exercise programs perhaps showing them something they have never tried. I’m excited when I realize how much this is helping me grow and become much more at ease with planning effective exercise sessions specifically geared towards their individual needs.

What your recommendations for an Exercise Science student who is interested in applying to be involved in this experience in the future?
Share your enthusiasm for the experience and confidence you could gain from this in your application! Once you are accepted, be prepared for initial testing. Review your procedures beforehand, show up early, stay calm and confident and enjoy the real-life feel! When you are planning their programs, branch out, research and try new exercises with them. This is a wonderful chance to develop your training style.

What are your professional aspirations?
Originally I came to school planning to immediately go on and earn my Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Life happened and various things in my personal life have changed so right now I’m looking around at options available with the Bachelor’s degree. A few ideas I have considered are working as an orthopedic surgeon’s assistant, continuing to work as a personal trainer, teaching more group fitness classes or working as a health fitness specialist in a medically based gym setting. Maybe in a few years I will return to school but right now I’m thrilled to be graduating and ready to experience working in the exercise field first hand! 

Liz Traynor

PHOTO: Liz Traynor

How did you become interested in personal training?
My love for exercise is how I became interested in personal training.  Exercising has been shown to be beneficial both mentally and physically.  A lot of people need that extra boost or person to get them to exercise regularly, and as a personal trainer I get to be that person.  There is also so much you can do as a personal trainer. There really are no boundaries.  You can be as creative as you want when creating your client’s workouts and it’s challenging to continue to come up with new ideas and ways to keep your client on their toes.  Because you constantly need to come up with new exercises or variations to keep both your client interested and to keep improving their fitness, personal training cannot ever get boring. 

What has been the most exciting part of this experience for you?
The most exciting part of this experience is seeing your client’s reaction to the workout that you created for them.  Hearing them comment that they feel like they just had an awesome workout is thrilling.  Nothing is more rewarding then hearing that the workouts you created have made your clients feel stronger or more fit than before they started.  It really is awesome to feel like you have made a difference in someone’s life, and for the better. 

What your recommendations for an Exercise Science student who is interested in applying to be involved in this experience in the future?
One thing that I would recommend is to be open-minded.  Even though we have learned how to write exercise prescriptions, a lot of times you have to deviate from that.  Sometimes a client won’t be able to do what you thought they could do or maybe you won’t have time for all of the exercises you want to do.  You have to be flexible and be able to adjust quickly.  Also, be ready for having any type of client, one that may know a decent amount about working out or someone who has never worked out.  It is easy to assume that most people know how to do bicep curls or crunches, but that is not always the case.  Make sure you can explain exactly what your client is supposed to do during the exercise and that they are doing it correctly.  This is a great way to get experience with personal training or just instructing people through an exercise routine.  It is a lot of fun!

What are your professional aspirations?
I am currently studying for the ACSM Personal Training exam, which I plan on taking after I graduate in May.  Although I am still in the process of figuring out what exactly I want to pursue for a career in the exercise field, I plan on getting a job as a personal trainer in the meantime.  The great thing about personal training is that you can either do it full-time or part-time!

Josh Simons

PHOTO: Josh Simons

How did you become interested in personal training?
I have been working out for the past several years, and have enjoyed all of the benefits that is has provided me. I wanted share these benefits with others, and felt as though personal training was a good thoroughfare to help others achieve their fitness goals and, overall, become more healthy.

What has been the most exciting part of this experience for you?
The most exciting part of this experience is seeing the growth and development of the clients as it pertains to them achieving the goals that they have. It is rewarding to see the progress that they make, and that progress is mutually inspiring to both the client and myself.

What your recommendations for an Exercise Science student who is interested in applying to be involved in this experience in the future?
I would recommend for students to think outside the box when creating workout programs for the clients that they have. Many times people push a workout that has worked for themselves onto another client, and this can inhibit the potential to achieve the clients' goals. Always make sure each plan is specifically tailored to whatever goal the client has in mind, and it will help you as a trainer to grow as more knowledgeable source.

What are your professional aspirations?
My professional aspirations are to go to medical school, and ultimately become a rehabilitative surgeon.