With students and fitness instructors in attendance, the Taylorsville Redwood Campus gymnasium was pumped with energy for the second annual Health and Fitness Conference on Saturday.
Eccentric Latin beats filled the air from the adjacent Zumba class. The event had just begun and featured specialists from several fields in the health community, while fitness classes like Zumba and cycling were offered alongside speakers.
The Salt Lake Community College Health and Lifetime Activities Department took a new approach to this year’s conference, looking to spread the word and fuel community engagement, according to Paula Nielson-Williams, program manager and a coordinator of the event.
“Last time, we used just the faculty to do classes,” Nielson-Williams says. “This year, we sent out abstracts to have community members, who are outstanding in their field, come in.”
The goal, Nielson-Williams says, is for fitness specialists and faculty members to renew their skillsets.
“We are all committed to making sure the level of expertise is higher in Utah, or at least the Salt Lake Valley, and that we have smart, intelligent people teaching fitness and health,” Nielson-Williams explains.
She wanted to give more opportunities to health and fitness instructors in the Salt Lake Valley to continue their education. Having been with the Health and Lifetime Activities department for 25 years, Nielson-Williams is familiar with the surrounding community and she helped her department “find a need and fill a need” for fitness specialists who want to be up-to-date in this ever-evolving field.
With an emphasis on teaching and instruction, the conference kicked off with an introduction from Nate Thomas, the associate dean for Health and Lifetime Activities. He spoke on how sedentarism is plaguing society and the effects are not going unnoticed, with two-thirds of the U.S. population reporting as overweight or obese.
“How can we find ways to curb the crises we find ourselves in?” he questioned. Thomas acknowledges there is no simple answer, but he says having a more informed health and fitness community is crucial to getting started.
After Thomas’ introduction, the conference officially began, with multiple speakers lined up, each specializing in a facet of the health and wellness community.
SLCC cast a wide net to recruit guest speakers for this year’s conference. The topics ranged from how to fix dysfunctional breathing to fad diets and clean eating, all of which were led by specialists in their fields.
The conference was an opportunity for instructors and students to learn something new while staying close to home, which was a major benefit Thomas highlighted while inducting the conference.
Carrie Needham, who has a doctorate in exercise and sport science, spoke about the benefits of monitoring while training.
“Olympic athletes are the 1 percent of an elite population, but their training tools are still useful to the weekend warriors, master cyclists and anyone looking to improve their fitness,” she says.
Many people, Needham notes, hold a belief that overtraining is only something high level athletes experience. She vouches for the use of fitness monitoring for everyone looking to live an active and healthy lifestyle since it will help people create better plans for training that won’t over-extend their abilities.
For many athletes when they are being monitored, coaches like Needham will keep track of their heart rate, oxygen levels, lactate production and variability in heart rhythm to maximize their peak fitness. Needham went on to explain that monitoring like this is typically reserved for specialized athletes, but she emphasized that regular people working on their fitness can benefit from monitoring as well.
“If you don’t give yourself recovery time, performance will go down,” she says. “It’s not just sports, but everything – studying, working, you’ll get burned out.”
The health and fitness community never seems to stagnate, says Nelson-Williams, there is always something to learn, and SLCC is excited to bring this conference back next year.