Fitness scholarship helps students learn health

Spreading knowledge about continuing active lifestyles is goal, administrator says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn fitness club is hoping to promote healthy lifestyles in youth and the community. The Auburn Racquet and Fitness Club is hosting a six-month scholarship program for Auburn high school juniors and seniors. Requirements of the program include attending the club and exercising a minimum of three times a week. Students must also participate in group fitness training classes, 20 group exercise classes, five cardio tennis classes and two nutrition seminars. Club membership is complimentary to participating students. For a chance to win a $2,000 scholarship, students must also write a 2,000-word essay describing what they learned about health and fitness during the program and how they plan to share that knowledge with the Auburn community. The essay is due May 1, and only one student can win the scholarship. The club plans to continue and strengthen the scholarship in coming years, said Leonardo Schneiderman, the club’s program administrator for the scholarship. Schneiderman said because most high school students don’t continue team sports in college, the program will teach them how to stay healthy in the future. “The scholarship is important because when the kids go to college, a lot of times … they are going to need to find a way to exercise on their own,” Schneiderman said. “If they get this experience of learning how to do this on their own, maybe they will be more successful in having a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives.” Schneiderman said there are a little more than 50 students currently participating in the program. Placer High School senior Caitlin Mayo, 17, said there is a very important reason for her to be involved in this scholarship program. “It’s not only the fact about the money,” Mayo said. “I have been bigger my whole life, so I have been made fun of my whole life. So, it’s an incentive for me to feel better about myself.” Mayo said she likes to run on her own sometimes, but that is the extent of her fitness background. Although she has only been participating in the program for a few weeks, Mayo said she has started to notice some small changes as a result of her group fitness training classes. “I cheer for the high school, and I can tell my uniform fits me better, and that’s something I have struggled with for four years,” she said. Mayo, who is torn between attending Chico State University or University of Nevada, Reno, said the scholarship money would also be a big help to her in terms of funding her college education. “It would be nice to have the money for school,” she said. “I come from a family, we just don’t have the money to spend on college.” While she hasn’t signed up for any group exercise classes yet, Mayo has some ideas about what she would like to try next. “They have a pilates class that I really would like to try … and racquetball,” she said. “My mom used to work at another gym … so I would go play (racquetball).” Mayo said the group fitness training classes are challenging, because a trainer pushes students to keep going. However, they are also fun, because everyone in the class supports each other, and it’s a good opportunity for the students to have fun with their friends. Placer High School senior Leah Espenson, 17, said she is participating in the program because she wants to continue the fitness lifestyle she had years ago. “In middle school I was on the basketball team,” Espenson said. “I was on track and cross country. Then classes got harder, so I couldn’t do it in high school. So, this was another way to do it. I have always liked working out, just feeling more active and everything, but I don’t really have the equipment at home.” Espenson said besides the group training classes, she also participated in a dance aerobics class and a cardio fusion class. “I think I liked the dance aerobics class best,” she said. “It was really fun because we were just jumping around, but doing all this quick movement stuff, so it got our heart rates up. I kind of want to try water aerobics, because one of my friends did that, and they said it was really fun.” Espenson said she has a basic plan for spreading the knowledge she takes away from the program. “I think I’m just going to try and tell people how well it went at the racquet club, and how helpful all the people are and how good the facility is.” She has already inspired her older sister to think about joining the club during her break from college, Espenson said. Because she is hoping to get the best and most interactive education leading to a career in bio-medical engineering, Espenson said the scholarship money would also be helpful. “I’m looking at a lot of pretty expensive schools,” she said. “I’m looking at more private schools.” The result of a fitness-filled lifestyle is worth the effort she puts into the scholarship program, Espenson said. “I think a lot more people should get involved with fitness,” she said. “It’s actually really beneficial to you, and after you have done it for awhile it just makes you feel better about yourself and who you are.” Reach Bridget Jones at