Personal trainers help overcome workout blues

At the Student Life Center, Fort Worth sophomore Alyx DuPree receives instruction from personal trainer and Blountville student Alex Van Houten on workout technique.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer

By Molly Dunn

Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation to work out. Excuses are easily found and eventually any bit of inspiration to step foot in the gym is gone.

Studies have shown, however, that working out with someone else keeps people accountable and encourages them to actually exercise. Faculty and students can sign up for a personal trainer at the Student Life Center to help them reach their goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Van Davis, assistant director for fitness and nutrition education at the McLane Student Life Center, said the three personal trainers on staff at the Student Life Center keep their clients focused and accountable while training them.

“Hiring a personal trainer is a good option for someone who needs a little more accountability,” Davis said. “If a trainer is there, working you out or keeping you accountable, you tend to stick to your workout plan a little bit better.”

The personal trainers at the center will sit down with a potential client to learn his or her goals and reasons for working out before signing up.

One of the personal trainers on staff, Alex Van Houten, said it is extremely important to get to know a client before training in order to see results.

“I sit down and my first question to them is: ‘Tell me a little about yourself. What stresses you out in life?’ because I really want to know the client,” Van Houten said.

After meeting with a client, the personal trainers design a workout plan structured toward the goals and fitness level of the client.

Richland, Minn., sophomore Jack Kelly is a personal trainer at the Student Life Center and creates workout plans that best fit the lifestyle and needs of his clients.

“Some people want to look better, some people want to feel better, have more energy, some want to get a little stronger, so you have to figure out what they want to do,” Kelly said “Then you design a workout program with them that’s based around their schedule, how often they can meet.”

Each trainer at the center is different, and clients must utilize the initial meeting time to determine if the trainer is right for them.

“Trainers have different personalities; they are all different,” Davis said “As you’re hiring a trainer, talking to them on the phone, asking the right questions, you would know that this is a trainer that you would enjoy coming back to.”

Davis said requesting a different trainer will not cause any hard feelings because fitness professionals understand individuals needs specific training styles to meet their needs and achieve their goals.

Contrary to what people see on the television reality show “The Biggest Loser,” Van Houten said he does not yell or scream at his clients to work harder.

“Most people don’t respond well to yelling motivation nor do they appreciate the attention it would cause in the SLC weight room,” Van Houten said. “My style is just a feel-out of what kind of motivation people respond to best. I generally try to keep things lighthearted but to the point.”

One of Van Houten’s clients, Rebel Sanders, a second-year graduate student from Wichita Falls ,said she appreciates the dedication and commitment of her trainer.

“He doesn’t let me get away with much because he knows if he gives me an inch, I’ll take a mile,” Sanders said. “The main thing for me is I know somebody is going to be here waiting on me and I’ve already paid this person so it forces me to go work out because I just don’t have the self-discipline to force myself to go by myself.”

Keeping a consistent workout has allowed Sanders to stay on track to meeting her goals. In fact, since she began training with Van Houten, she has lost 27 pounds and her doctor said she no long has pre-diabetic syndrome.

But just having a personal trainer does not mean results will happen.

“Personal trainers aren’t magicians,” Van Houten said. “You have to have somewhere inside you that says I want to do something for myself, I want to change and that’s where I can encourage you till I am blue in the face, I can make the coolest workouts in the entire world, but it’s not going to mean anything if you don’t follow through with it and you don’t have a deep desire to make a change for yourself.”

Trainers can be either undergraduate or graduate students and are nationally certified. Faculty and students can choose a single, one-hour training session for $20, a package of five training sessions for $95, or a package of 10 training sessions for $180.

For more information on signing up for a personal trainer, please visit or call Davis at 254-710-6631.