By KYRA KETCH
Three University of Mary Washington professional staff members, along with six UMW students, will make the six and a half hour trek to University of North Carolina Asheville this Friday, Feb. 19. There, at the Southeast Collegiate Fitness Expo, university students and staff from across the region will gather to share knowledge, skills and exciting new trends in fitness.
The annual event is one that Kelly Shannon, interim director of campus recreation, has attended before. She and one of the UMW Fitness Center interns will present in front of 400 individuals their own knowledge on how to improve student life across the country.
“The topics of most of the sessions are either group fitness oriented or personal training oriented,” Shannon said. “UMW does not currently have a personal training program so I think our students will benefit from that a lot, just seeing what other Universities are doing in terms of group fitness and personal fitness programs as well as their wellness programing.”
Shannon is excited to hear new ideas from the expo and bring back information that could benefit the UMW Fitness Center, its students and its staff.
“I’m looking forward to them being able to see and then share this information when they get back here. That’s the end goal really, is that we can grow our staff and create ideas to bring back to UMW,” Shannon said.
When asked what he was looking forward to most, graduate assistant for operations and lead cycle instructor, Brandon Smith said he is most excited for the team building aspect of the expo, which he hopes will help him and the others involved to grow.
“We’re going to be bringing a lot of student supervisors and young talent within the campus recreation department, and having them see and be exposed to a lot of different campus recreation programs from around the country will really help us to grow and better our program,” Smith said.
Smith’s colleague, Daniel Turner, graduate assistant for intramural and club sports added that he is excited to see the various recreation programs at other universities.
“I’m most excited for getting the opportunity to see the fitness side of campus recreation because [with my position] I don’t really deal with that, so I’ll be getting a more rounded opinion to help make our program better where I can,” Turner said.
Turner, who is organizing a sunrise hike for the staff, expressed his excitement to see the sun peek up over the North Carolina mountaintops. “I’m also excited for the playlist on the way down” he said.
At the expo there will be stand up paddle boarding, Zumba, Body Attack, Body Combat, as well as other events. However, the handful of staff and students attending are not the only ones who will benefit from these fun-filled activities. “We have a plan of offering stand-up-paddle- boarding to UMW starting April 10,” Shannon said.
The goal of the UMW Fitness Center staff, according to Smith, is making UMW a healthier and happier place.
“This is one more step in a group of many steps we are taking to revolutionize campus recreation for Mary Washington students,” Smith said.
Shannon agreed, saying that “there are a lot of really great changes that have already happened and a lot of changes that are coming up.”
With the expo bringing in even more exciting changes, Shannon shared her plan for next year. “We’re planning on putting a bid in to host this conference here next year, so we will have everybody from the southeast region come see how cool UMW can be,” Shannon said.
The expo could potentially be an opportunity for UMW to see what other Universities are doing in the area of fitness and learn how to improve the school’s own programs and facilities.