Where It All Begins

            Statistics have long told us that an obese child will most likely become an obese adult. What causes a child to become obese is very simple: bad parenting! After all, it is parents (usually mom) who do the grocery shopping. It is Mom who brings the processed, sugary foods in the house that are causing pre-diabetic conditions by eighth grade.

Poor nutrition is often coupled by a lack of adequate exercise. Television, computers and video games play a major role here. By the time a kid gets to high school, they have a little more freedom to make their own food and exercise choices. This is where many schools are failing us. Most high school cafeterias are loaded once again with processed foods that contain sugar, saturated fats, trans-fats, sodium, caffeine, etc. Many schools across the nation are cutting physical education, citing lack of resources. Unless a student is an athlete, their physical activity levels in high school are nil.

            Now we get to college. Cafeterias that look like food courts at a mall: late-night munchies from the vending machine, pizza deliveries and all the booze you can consume without Mom and Dad around. Wow! As personal trainers, the odds of turning these kids around are against us, but that is what makes our profession so fun and exciting. Accept this challenge head-on, and let�s help our young people get their health back.


Attaining the College Student Client

            A couple of things make training college students more difficult: They lack time and money. On the surface, it sounds like their no good for business. But think about when their free time is throughout the year: Christmas break, spring break, summer break and long holiday weekends. Coincidently, isn�t this when a lot of regulars tend to vacation? Instead of losing out on money during these periods, it is a perfect opportunity to fill your schedule with students who are returning home.

As far as finances are concerned, there are several ways to get around them. You can assemble students in small groups to share your training rate. You would be surprised at how many parents are willing to flip the bill. You can offer half sessions so that their money goes further, resulting in more visits. Also, don�t forget you�re always prospecting for the future. Eventually, these students will be graduating and making their own money. If you make a positive difference in their collegiate life, they just may want to employ your services when they get into the real world. These ideas are not far-fetched; I�m living proof of all of the above. Throughout the school year, keep in contact with them via email. Send them different workout ideas and campus eating plans. You can send these in mass emails in order to maximize your own time and efforts.


Unique Workout Ideas

            As personal trainers, most of us love the gym environment. After all, this is part of the reason we got into this profession. The other reason is that we enjoy helping people. For us, going to the gym is second nature, and we�re very comfortable there. The ultimate goal is to make others feel as comfortable as we are in those positive surroundings. But how many times have you heard students say �the gym is only for athletes� or the famous catch-22 comment, �I�ll go to the gym after I get in better shape�? For newcomers, the rec center can be perceived as an intimidating environment. For many who feel this way, let�s send them back to school with some ideas that will build their confidence and slowly wean them into the school workout facilities.

            When weather permits, encourage young people to walk or bike to class. If class is really far from the dorm or off-campus apartment, they should park further away or jump off the bus one or two stops early. Body weight calisthenics are grossly underrated � how ideal for someone who lives in a room not much bigger than a prison cell. In a 6x4� space, students can do a variety of movements, such as squats, lunges, jumping jacks, push-ups, chair dips, etc. Not only are these movements incredibly effective, they don�t have to be time-consuming. Students can make great strides in just 10-15 minutes of exercise daily with the right program. This also eliminates the uncomfortable or flat-out scarred feeling of going to the public domain of the rec center.



            Fitness professionals hear more excuses than a fifth grade school teacher painfully listening about dogs eating homework. Students come up with some comical and some serious reasons for not sticking with a healthy lifestyle, but what�s important to explain to them is that the real world offers just as many obstacles, if not more. Deadlines, over-committing yourself, family obligations, etc. will always be there. We need to teach young people that health and well-being is a priority, not to mention a great financial investment. As we know in America, it�s pretty darn expensive to be sick.


            College is a fun time in a person�s life. But it�s also the first stage of independence in one�s life; these students are making their own choices. We as fitness professionals have great power to be impressionable in a young person�s health and overall positive attitude of well-being. They may not be the easiest audience to get through to, but then again, greatness doesn�t come easy.

Timothy Marsala has been an accredited personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine for the past 10 years. With alcohol abuse and obesity rates at all-time highs on campuses nationwide, Tim decided it was time to take action by writing a book: Fit, Drunk and Smarter. His literary contribution "trains" young adults on how to remain safe and healthy throughout the college years, along with delivering helpful advice for thriving academically. Throughout his life, Tim has been a competitive bodybuilder and an accomplished power lifter. Such discipline and commitment to fitness ultimately earned him the title of Mr. Eastern Illinois University and led to the creation of his signature workout: The Ten Minute Tone. For more information, please visit www.fitdrunkandsmarter.com.