UTPA Report: Fitness craze takes over campus


POSTED: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 11:46am

UPDATED: Friday, September 13, 2013 - 7:11am

A fitness craze has taken over the University of Texas Pan American. Students, faculty and staff are taking a stand promoting health and wellness on campus.
And as Roxanne Lerma tells us in this Newscenter 23 report, one person can serve as motivation and inspire hundreds to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Lisa Smith has struggled with her weight since she was 10. Chronic back problems kept her from working out to battle the bulge, “I have five herniated discs in my back so it’s very difficult for me to exercise and so when I had reached my heaviest, there was nothing that I could do without experiencing extreme pain in my legs and so the only thing I could do is change the way I ate.”

And change she did. Lisa’s amazing weight loss journey has captured national attention, “I started weight watchers in April of 2011 and so since then I was just gradually losing weight and so it’s been about two and a half years and or a little less than two years and I’ve lost 164 pounds.”

Smith was so thrilled with her weight loss she wanted to share the success and pushed for a Weight Watchers program to be implemented at work. Now more than 40 UTPA employees are enrolled in the plan and meet weekly. Keely Smith, a counseling specialist with the university’s rehab program, says it’s a great motivational tool, “I want to look better I want to live better. I want to live for my future grandkids. So I think the University promotes this because they see the need for it.”

Weight Watchers is just part of a wellness transformation running through campus. UTPA’s Fitness Coordinator, Colette Cabot says the health kick is catching on for both students and faculty, “It’s just getting people up and active because doing something even a low intensity exercise is better than doing nothing.”

Group exercise classes are readily available at the Edinburg institution Colette Cabot, “We have turbo kick, muscle sculpt, butts and guts a new tabada class we’re going to be doing another new class called bangara as well as belly dancing. There’s just a whole variety of something for everyone.”

The campus community is also mixing it up with a Healthy Cooking 101 demonstration once a month hosted by dietetic students like Eddie Pruneda. The nutritional experts teach students and staff how to eat quick and healthy on a budget, “You feed the body, you feed the mind. You’re eating the more nutritious food you eat; the more you stimulate your mind. You have more energy and more energy for class. You’re not drowsy you’re not tired, you’re not hungry.”

Lisa says for an area over-run by obesity, it’s inspiring that UT Pan American is leading a wellness movement, “I felt like it was really important for the university to take that first step in order to encourage the whole community to start looking at health and wellness.”

UTPA took the top spot in the 2013 U-T System Physical Activity Challenge. 146 faculty and staff participated in the competition and UTPA logged the most physical activity of any university within the U-T system.

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