STUDENTS REMEMBER FORGOTTEN COMMUNITIES

By Shell Lessen

Kinesiology is the study of human movement. Emily Shigenaga is a study in compassion, dedication and enthusiasm. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Kinesiology, Exercise Science.

It’s a mix that adds up to a marvelous mission, centered at California State University, Northridge.

As a CSUN undergraduate, Emily joined an organization named at that time 100 Citizens. This highly active campus organization is now known as “3 Wins Fitness”. It maintains the tradition of improving the health of its program participants living in under served Southern California areas.

Their efforts focus on providing outdoor fitness programs that create healthier environments where needed. All facilities are community-based, replicable and open to the public at no charge.

Help for all who need it

3 Wins Fitness programs are operated by CSUN students working as either volunteers or interns. Interning not only presents an opportunity to help people in need, student interns are eligible to receive units awarded by the university as well.

“I’m proud to report that we have already improved the health of people at a number of locations. Unfortunately needy forgotten places are not only in Southern California. They are nationwide,” she added.

Emily also pointed to a statistic that sums up the seriousness of the situation. Studies show that physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor of premature death in the United States.

Regular exercise can go a long way toward reducing that number, the experts tell us. For example, it has been proved that well-planned outdoor workouts can prevent weight gain, provide an emotional lift, boost energy as well as promote better sleep. And the list goes on.

Benefits for all

As far as Emily is concerned, 3 Wins Fitness is a solution to improving public health. Its program is needed across the nation, she noted.

While praising what she calls “the powerful benefits from exercise,” Emily also listed some personal advantages that are enjoyed by the CSUN students working with 3 Wins Fitness.

For one thing, they rarely, if ever, get out of the classroom and into an on-the-spot experience within the program of their degree. Now they can study and SEE their goals at any of six parks and the Senior Exercise Group.

Extra good news

Moreover, CSUN students gain leadership skills as well as enriching personal growth, while people grieving in under-served communities receive vital service.

And Emily’s association with 3 Wins Fitness assured her of a platform from which she was able to express her desire to make certain changes in the development and delivery of additional public health programs.

She maintained her relationship with what was then called 100 Citizens for three of the five years in her undergraduate career. And having joined the organization in the middle of her career, she remained active beyond graduation from CSUN.

It seems like yesterday

Emily now leaves behind a series of well-planned programs in the hands of knowledgeable students who take the time to explain and demonstrate each exercise. Their primary goal is to make sure the proper form and techniques are used correctly.

Exercise programs are designed around a structured agenda created by the Program Director. At the beginning of the session instructors lead participants in a warm-up. And they demonstrate every exercise during the warm-up period.

Next comes instruction in specific exercises, after which the participants take over. While they huff and puff students walk among them to make sure all is well. A special cool-down session ends the show.

It’s actually a double feature with a workout script written particularly for older people, along with one for the younger generation.

Two for the money

Known as The Senior Exercise Group, it serves elders 65 years and up. “However, we frequently get adults younger than 65 interested in our program. They are attracted to all the fun our program participants have,” according to Emily.

And Emily should know. She was in charge of The Senior Exercise Group for well over a year.

This popular program is the only one of its kind among the six CSUN parks in Southern California. All six are designed to get  people actively associated in a social environment. “Needless to say this is a program close to my heart,” Emily said.

“My responsibilities include making sure the program runs safely, catering to the needs of our participants and insuring student growth and leadership,” Emily pointed out. “My main objective was to provide a learning environment for both student volunteers, interns and our participants.”

For the fun of it all, The Senior Exercise Group offers an extensive collection of fitness equipment including weights and handballs along with resistance bands, battle ropes and small beanbags.

Emily wrapped up her story on a happy and hopeful note declaring that “it has been a gratifying and humbling opportunity to watch grandmothers get on the floor to exercise for the first time in years. Or be told “My doctor took me off my medications because I exercise consistently.”

Mission accomplished!