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Feeling the Burn

Exercise physiology majors Kyle Gilbert and Zeke Fecher keep the Ada-Liberty Township Fire Department in peak condition.

Volunteer firefighters accept a level of community responsibility that few civilians are expected to match. So when lives and property are at stake, it is crucial they can perform their duties at the highest level. Ohio Northern University’s Department of Human Performance and Sport Sciences is helping to ensure that local firefighters can do just that.

This spring, ONU seniors Kyle Gilbert, or Tiffin, Ohio, and Zeke Fecher, of Pitsburg, Ohio, developed a special exercise regimen for a group of Ada-Liberty Township firefighters designed to help them lose weight, gain strength and most importantly, develop a routine that they can continue into the future. The group met each Wednesday night at Dial-Robertson stadium for an hour of private instruction, and exercised two more days of the week using a custom take-home program designed by Gilbert and Fecher.

Working with the firefighters gave the two exercise physiology majors valuable real-world experience dealing with clients of varying skill levels.

“They’ve learned how to manage a larger group with a different skill set. There is a pretty wide spectrum of what the participants can and can’t do,” said Sara Terrell, assistant professor of exercise physiology. “I think that’s probably been their best growth area, finding out how to make this appropriate for every single person that is there.”

Officially, Gilbert and Fecher’s project met a course requirement for HPES 383, the second of two practicums required for exercise physiology majors and coordinated by Terrell. The first practicum, HPES 369, partners with ONU Healthwise, matching ONU employees with a student major to receive one-on-one student led exercise instruction. The second practicum involves service and community outreach through partnerships such as this as well as offering wellness and fitness workshops for the ONU faculty and staff..

Terrell hand-picked Gilbert and Fecher to train the firefighters because of their unique skill sets in dealing with high-performance physical training. Both are interning this summer in the field, with Gilbert at the Ohio State University football program and Fecher at a high-intensity sports performance clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

“When you look at Zeke and Kyle, both have worked with clients in a one-on-one environment, they’ve led group exercise courses, and recently, they passed the National Strength and Conditioning exam (NSCA), a gold standard exam in our profession, becoming certified strength and conditioning specialists. The experience they’ve had here at Northern is tremendous in preparing them for their future careers,” said Terrell.

This project marked the second year of a partnership between the exercise physiology department and the Ada-Liberty Township Fire Department. Last spring, students worked with a larger group of firefighters. Terrell envisions the partnership leading to future projects focusing on physical training that mimics the kinds of things firefighters need to do to on the job.

Additionally, ONU exercise physiology has also worked with the Ada Chamber of Commerce Fitness Challenge, and is always looking for new ways to help Ada get healthy.

“Any chance I can involve our students in real world experiences that also help our ONU campus and our Ada community, I will try to do it,” said Terrell.

For more information, contact Sara Terrell or visit exercise physiology on the web.