By Amy Adams
FIT Rx, a new program started this semester by the Department of Health Sciences, is trying to help Furman get fit, offering free individualized exercise training to faculty, staff, and their families.
The program began with Professor Tony Caterisano’s course HSC 244: Scientific Principles of Training, which requires students to offer individualized training to a faculty or staff member. Health Science professors were shocked by how many Furman employees were eager to volunteer for the program, so the department decided to create a program independent of Caterisano’s class that could fulfill Furman faculty and staff’s desires for free exercise training while giving students more opportunities for field-work in the realm of exercise science.
Kelly Frazier, a Health Sciences professor who oversees FIT Rx, said that she hopes the program will make a positive impact on the lives of the Furman employees, whose participation will show them how easy it can be to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes.
The hands-on experience the interning students gain is another benefit. The Department of Health Sciences is the largest on Furman’s campus with more than 200 majors currently studying for health-related careers. Frazier believes that, in addition to assisting faculty and staff, the program aims to inspire and educate these students.
“When you get to see the look on someone’s face when they are able to discontinue a cholesterol-lowering medication, improve their diabetes, or alleviate their back pain, it is life-changing,” Frazier said. “It is what fuels my work every day, and I want our students to experience that joy also.”
There are currently 11 students interning for the FIT Rx program, all of whom are Health Sciences majors. In addition to assisting faculty and staff with their exercise regimes, the interns read and discuss “The Exercise Professional’s Guide to Optimizing Health: Strategies for Preventing and Reducing Chronic Disease,” a text written in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine that teaches interns to modify exercise plans to meet individual participants’ needs. The interns meet weekly to discuss readings as well as their experiences working with participants.
A broader goal of the FIT Rx program is to reduce health care claims among Furman’s faculty and staff. These claims have been rising steadily for many years, which has been a growing source of concern for Furman as an employer. Preventing and reducing illness in Furman employees will reduce health care worries and costs.
More than 50 Furman employees have requested to be a part of the program so far. The program includes initial meetings to discuss the participant’s health history, goals, limitations, interests, and schedule. The department then determines whether further assessments are needed based on the participant’s individual profile.
Next, the participant then undergoes personalized exercise training sessions with his or her student trainer three times per week for the first two weeks, and the participant’s progress is monitored throughout the semester.
“We hope to empower and educate our participants so they can maintain their exercise program after the semester ends,” Frazier said.
The Department of Health Sciences plans to offer the FIT Rx program every fall and spring semester. Those interested in getting involved as an intern or participant can contact Kelly Frazier at email@example.com.