Professional Spotlight – Samantha Fitzpatrick
- What is your current position and responsibilities?
In December, I began working for the University of Notre Dame RecSports as the Coordinator of Fitness and Instructional programs. I oversee all aspects of the group fitness and personal training program, as well as the student personnel for the fitness floor. Prior to this position, I held positions as the Graduate Assistant of Fitness and Wellness (Personal Training) at Western Michigan and the Fitness/Wellness Intern at Viterbo University
- How did you get involved with campus recreation?
My journey in campus recreation started my junior year of college. I taught group fitness at a variety of places around La Crosse, Wisconsin including the Recreation Eagle Center (UWL’s REC) and a corporate wellness facility among others. As a student of exercise and sport science, many of my classmates were planning on going into corporate wellness, and having not yet decided on a career path I opted to give it a try. This corporate wellness program was one that people dream of having – the employees of this company were paid, yes actually paid on top of their salary, for taking healthy actions such as walking outside, going to a group fitness class, or getting a massage. As I worked there for a few months, I started to notice that our members often attended our programs because they were paid for it not because they were internally motivated. Reflecting on previous work experience, I realized that the REC was open to all members of the UWL community and those who were internally motivated were the ones that came were people that I could help along their fitness journey. I was very fortunate that the private school only a mile away from UWL’s campus had a fitness internship position where I was able to learn about campus recreation and grow into the recreation professional that I am today.
- How did your graduate assistant position prepare you for a professional career?
When I was searching for a graduate assistant position, I knew that I was weak in the personal training side of fitness. After searching for group fitness positions only, which did not pan out for me, I expanded my search to all fitness GA positions. Ultimately, I ended up in a program that had the first year as the Personal Training GA and the second year as the Group Fitness GA. Even though the personal training side may not have been what I wanted out of a GA experience, in hindsight I am glad that I had a role so strong in personal training. This allowed me to gain the experience in building a personal training program from the ground up from creating the documentation to training and developing student trainers. Without this experience in personal training, I feel as though I would not be as qualified as I am today to fulfill the duties of my job.
- What is the value of fitness and wellness in a campus recreation setting?
Coming from the corporate wellness belief, fitness and wellness is a vital part of creating a healthy environment on campus. Keeping your mind and body healthy, whatever that means to each individual, is vital to the success of the university as a whole. Healthy students and employees are sick less often, know how to cope with stress better and therefore need fewer “mental health days,” and they tend to be more focused and productive when at work or when working on homework. To me, health and well-being in campus recreation goes beyond getting into or staying in shape but makes the entire campus healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically in multiple dimensions of wellness.