A Kinesiology Department research project has moved past the classroom walls and into San Fernando Valley communities.
Continuing the work of 2010 graduate students, the 100 Citizen Fitness Program targets obesity and inactivity in low-income communities, providing health and fitness education at no cost to the recipients.
“Our concern is directed towards obesity — we have to find a way to address it in a cost-effective manner,” said Steven Loy, program director.
Dozens of student volunteers and San Fernando Valley nutritionists hosted the program at the San Fernando Recreational Park Center for more than 80 participants, 20 of whom were women.
Spreading the knowledge of a healthier lifestyle depends on a community’s willingness to learn, said George Perez, senior kinesiology major.
A few of the communities that expressed interest, found out they may have signed up for more than they expected.
The program started with 85 participants but after the first day of training, more than half of the participants walked away, said kinesiology student Akeem Craig.
“We are serious about helping people get their health back in shape so we need to push [them] hard to help them gain the results they came here for,” he added.
Although the program has no gender or age restrictions, many women showed up interested in changing their behavior.
“Women are the caretakers of every household, and what they learn here is what will be passed on to their children and their grandchildren,” said senior kinesiology student Armando Yanez. “The ladies are appreciating what we are doing for them, as they tell us how they are changing the way they cook for their families.”
The effort and time put into the program was worth the dedication and work, Yanez said.
“It is very satisfying to have some of the ladies come up and whisper to me how they lost 15, 20 and even 25 pounds in some cases,” he added.
Every participant of the program was accepted to join once their physicians gave them the OK to exercise.
“We are reliable for every individual participating in this program,” Yanez said. “We don’t want anyone getting hurt that’s why we have to get everyone cleared by their doctor to exercise with us.”
Equipment used for the program is provided by the kinesiology department, and some of the equipment was donated by Loy and student volunteers.
Loy said if the benefits of the program can be demonstrated to every university, the project could become nationally recognized.
Loy also recognized what keeps the program going.
“Without the help of students, this wouldn’t be possible to do,” he added.
Undergraduate students can now take the program as an internship.
“We need all the help we can get,” Craig said. “Mainly, we are looking for kinesiology students who know what they’re doing, but we will also welcome students who have [physical training] knowledge.”