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Getting in shape with student fitness instructors

Walking into your weekly on-campus yoga class might yield a few familiar faces.

Since fall 2014, Belmont students have taught 14 of the group fitness classes in the Fitness and Recreation Center.

While it can be frightening to take a fitness class, the student instructors make it their job to help new participants feel welcome. Director Jamie Zeller and the department found “students respond to student instructors well.”

Zeller wanted to give students the opportunity to teach their peers, so the department sent out emails to its staff looking for prospective candidates.

“We are a teaching facility,” Zeller said.

In order to be considered for instructorship, students had to provide a demo tape showing their abilities. Students must have experience in teaching and their respective fitness activity.While certification isn’t necessary to hold the position, the department emphasizes the importance of certification and holds personal training workshops for instructors, Zeller said.

“We try to develop them and mentor them,” Zeller said.

New student instructor Natalie Szocs and third-year instructor Joe Mankowski co-teach Iron Body Blast. Both got their start in personal training before teaching group fitness classes at Belmont.

“I like teaching here because you have an opportunity to create community with students. It’s time in their day to sweat out the stress,” Szocs said.

For Mankowski, being an instructor is a great opportunity to teach students and create that “connecting point.”

Being a student instructor comes with its frustrations, however.

“It gets challenging when people don’t use the correct form and picking exercises that a lot of people can do,” Mankowski said.

But for Szocs and Mankowski, what matters most is creating that community, improving someone’s form or having that “zen moment.”

You can catch Mankowski and Szocs at Iron Body Blast on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the Fitness and Recreation Center. The rest of the group fitness schedule can be found on the Fitness and Recreation Center’s Facebook page.

Photo by Alex Sanchez.

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