Valparaiso University’s FitLab had its grand opening on Oct. 25. The lab acts as a fitness assessment for people to to attain fitness testing. The FitLab is located in the Athletic Recreation Center and is open to students, staff and the community.
Sports teams have used the lab as a resource for improvement by doing testing to see where the athletes have weaknesses and to help prevent injuries in order to help coaches better structure training.
People who wish to start an exercise program after not having worked out in awhile or are curious as to where to start can also visit the FitLab. They will have a complete comprehensive package done looking at their aerobic fitness and health, their muscular strength and endurance, their flexibility, and their posture.
“All sorts of components to help them figure out A where are you right now and B to create programming for them. And then we encourage them to come in for follow up testing within a few months to see if there are improvements and to help tweak their programming ,” said Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Exercise Science Director Brooke Starkoff.
Community members who are doing some sort of performance, like triathletes and marathon runners, who want to get faster or increase their power can also get tested at the FitLab.
These programs are tailored to personal preference accounting for the client’s access to equipment, goals for the program, and what exercises they enjoy doing.
There will be student led videos of how to perform certain exercises.
“Students are putting together a video library of how to perform a lot of these movements correctly and that will hopefully be on our website in the next few weeks where then we can tell folks ‘ok here’s a list of the exercises you should be doing, go check out our website for how to properly do them’,” Starkoff said.
Clients can choose from a comprehensive package, a performance package, or body composition package. The comprehensive package includes aerobic testing, muscular fitness, muscular endurance, flexibility, and postural analysis. The performance packages are for athletes who wish to perform better.
There is also a body composition package.
“There’s a new company in town called Dexifit that does body composition as well so they’re a new sponsor of ours, we’re working with them to create some programming there because we don’t have all of the equipment we want yet. We have what we need but certainly utilizing our resources in the community is helpful as well,” Starkoff said.
Starkoff hopes to one day have a facility on campus to send the clients after they receive their programming as right now there is no space to train them in.
“That’s my next step, to have a facility on campus where we would then send them and our students would train them, but for how we send them a list of exercises to do, how frequently, what their heart rate should be,” Starkoff said.
Starkoff hopes to eventually partner with local healthcare centers, or even the campus healthcare center, to increase the amount of clients coming to the FitLab.
“So we want people to really use this as a preventive tool to not have to worry about high cholesterol, high blood pressure, all of that. To use this lab as a tool for that and really creating the opportunity for students to practice and learn their field before they graduate, I think it sets them up a little bit better for post graduation.”
The lab will one day be entirely run by students taking the fitness testing and prescription class and research students within the Department of Kinesiology.
“The fitness testing and prescription class there’s some lecture and we talk about physical activity guidelines and then we’ll talk about blood pressure and they come in here and they do it. So once they have the basic education within the first four to six weeks, after that they do have to start bringing clients into the lab to test them,” Starkoff said.
The FitLab has been sponsored by local Valpo businesses.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to partner with some great organizations on the community. Our current sponsors include Extra Mile Fitness Company, Valpo Parks, Island Nutrition, HealthLinc, and Fitrain. We want to continue to partner with organizations in the community to provide programming outside of the lab.,” Starkoff said.
Starkoff hopes these partnerships lead to more opportunities for students to engage with the community and spread the message of using exercise as medicine.