Beyond the classroom: Strengthening academics with personal training

Joey Viray uses what he learns in his physiology classes when he is working with fellow students as a personal trainer.

Joey Viray uses what he learns in his physiology classes when he is working with fellow students as a personal trainer.

By Joey Viray, a junior from Richmond studying human nutrition, foods, and exercise

“If I keep running, can I still gain muscle?”

That was a question I got the other day from one of the clients I see in my job as a personal trainer — which is how I spend my time when I’m not hitting the books for my classes in human nutrition, foods, and exercise.

I started thinking about the conflicted pathways of muscle growth and aerobic capacity. I silently congratulated myself for paying attention in a lecture that covered this topic last semester and explained to the client that while it’s possible, the two systems will hinder each other.

Ever since I became a personal trainer last year,

I started seeing the material I learn in class in a whole new way. During every lecture, I find myself thinking about how this material applies to my job now and the one I hope to have after graduation.

I learned the science behind the exercise tests we do by performing a maximum oxygen consumption test in the lab. I’ve also learned ways to develop my career because a class required me to write a resume and cover letter for a summer internship. Whether it’s exercise physiology, management, or psychology, every class affects my job and gets me closer to my long-term goal of becoming a dietitian and personal trainer.

In my three years at Virginia Tech, my interactions with clients have improved, my programs have become more grounded in research, and I have learned how to conduct myself as a professional. The best part is, it’s a two-way street. By referencing my classes to my personal training clients, I’m reinforcing the material and effectively studying while I train.

It’s been a fabulous experience, and because of it I’ve come a long way from the admittedly not-so-old days of, “When am I ever going to need to know this?”

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