Tag Archive | "Department of Wellness and Recreation"

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Forum Addresses Well-Being, Health and Safety on College Campuses

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 27, 2017)—With student and employee well-being as a central theme, a two-day conference hosted by the University of Miami’s Division of Student Affairs and Department of Wellness and Recreation examined strategies and best practices to foster a culture of health and safety on college campuses nationwide.

Held October 13-14 at the Herbert Wellness Center, the forum attracted 18 leaders from 12 colleges and universities and was co-hosted by the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA)—two organizations that recognize that a campus environment of healthy behaviors not only contributes to academic success but also plays an important role in forming and maintaining positive relationships in communities.

Representatives from the American College Health Association (ACHA) also attended and spoke at the forum, exchanging their experiences and perspectives on student and employee well-being.

NIRSA Past-President Kathleen Hatch facilitated the forum and encouraged dialogue about how to best align campus partnerships and resources to successfully integrate universal well-being into campus cultures.

NIRSA’s mission is to advocate for the advancement of recreation, sport, and wellness by providing educational and developmental opportunities, generating and sharing knowledge, and promoting networking and growth for their members. The organization also believes in transforming lives and inspiring the development of healthy communities worldwide.

The leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession, NASPA has a similar mission with four guiding principles of integrity, innovation, inclusion, and inquiry. NASPA’s vision is to be the principal source of leadership, scholarship, professional development, and advocacy for student affairs.

UM’s Department of Wellness and Recreation strives to foster a lifestyle of responsible choices supporting the mind, the body, and the spirit in educational, wellness, and recreational programs through services and facilities for the University community.

“Wellness involves more than physical fitness—it’s about maintaining a balanced lifestyle,” said Scott Levin, UM’s executive director of wellness and recreation, who, along with Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Whitely, hosted the meeting. “At the Herbert Wellness Center, we offer programs such as group fitness classes, intramural sports, and weight training that focus on physical well-being as well as classes like cooking, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga that focus on mental well-being.”

All of the organizations present at the forum have missions aligning core values that attempt to grow and develop their community to make choices that promote a wholesome lifestyle. Through the forum, the organizations were able to develop content and resources to assist their community members in finding their wellness fit.



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Wellness Staff Lends Expertise to National Committees

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Wellness Staff Lends Expertise to National Committees


From left are Tony Musto, Michelle Kasparian, and Tom Soria.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (Aug. 3, 2016) –  As the higher education landscape becomes more complex and campus administrators face increasing challenges in their work, professional associations and committees provide University of Miami staff with opportunities to collaborate and learn from colleagues at other schools around the nation.

In addition to national conferences, published research and online resources, many of these professional associations present opportunities for their members to hold leadership positions within the organization. Recently, three staff members from the University of Miami’s Department of Wellness & Recreation have taken on such roles.

“With the mental and physical well-being of our students at the core of our division’s mission, it is especially important that the University of Miami is part of national conversations in the areas of fitness, wellness and recreation,” said Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs. “In addition to the Department of Wellness & Recreation, I am proud that staff members from all departments within the Division of Student Affairs continually lend their professional experiences and expertise to national committees and professional associations.”

Tony Musto, Ph.D., director of fitness programs for the Department of Wellness & Recreation, serves on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Exam Review Committee and is the co-chair of ACSM’s Clinical Exercise Physiologist Exam Team. Comprised of 10 faculty members, fitness center directors, and degreed exercise professionals from across the United States, the Exam Review Committee is the chief oversight committee for the development of ACSM’s certification exams for various levels of exercise professionals, including for personal trainers and group exercise instructors. The Exam Team is an extension of the review committee as its members serve as content experts for various sections of the ACSM Clinical Exercise Physiologist certification exam.

Michelle Kasparian, who joined the Department of Wellness & Recreation as the assistant director of group exercise and community classes in January 2015, was named to the ACSM Group Exercise Instructor Certification Exam Team. Kasparian’s role on the six-member team is to review the results of exam questions to ensure the exam is appropriate and defensible based on current research and standards of practice for group exercise instructors.

“I applied to be on the committee to make a greater contribution to the fitness industry, specifically in group exercise,” Kasparian said. “I love learning in my field by attending conferences and workshops, but serving on this committee gives me the ability to apply my knowledge and give back by ensuring these certified professionals are held to a high standard.”

With more than 20,000 certified members worldwide, ACSM is considered to be the “gold standard” of certifying organizations for exercise professionals around the world. Musto believes that he was selected for the committee because his experience is a balanced mix of academic and practical experience.

“ACSM is a well-respected organization and their certification is one of the most rigorous in the industry,” he said. “It’s one thing to hold a certification from ACSM, but it is another level to write the questions and design the exam itself, leaving an impact on the national organizations and its members.”

Tom Soria, assistant director of intramural sports and director of the Department of Wellness & Recreation’s Mini Canes Summer Camp, was recently appointed to the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Professional Registry Commission. With representatives from four other universities as well as from NIRSA’s national headquarters, this commission oversees the policies, standards, and other criteria for NIRSA’s Professional Registry. The registry serves as a credential program for NIRSA’s 4,500 members and is designed to recognize campus professionals who set the highest standard in collegiate recreation through continuous education and professional development.

“As professionals with a direct impact on our students’ college experiences, we must be aware of and understand current trends and issues affecting our students,” said Soria. “But we must also anticipate new issues that may arise before they even reach our own campus. NIRSA’s Professional Registry recognizes those campus recreation professionals who dedicate themselves to purposeful development within our field.”

The staff at the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center represent diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. It is through their involvement with various national organizations that they work together to deliver exceptional fitness, wellness, and recreational programming for the University of Miami community.

“I support members of my team who want to get involved at the regional and national levels within their professional associations,” said Scott Levin, executive director for the Department of Wellness & Recreation. “We can better serve our students and other constituencies by becoming active members in these organizations, which are designed to bring together colleagues from around the country and the world for opportunities to share our experiences and expertise with each other.”


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Step by Step, Walking ‘Canes Get into Shape

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Step by Step, Walking ‘Canes Get into Shape


From left are Marta Pina, Pamela Capman, Carmen Ortega, Ana Martha Ayala, Juniette Fiore, Kris Roth, Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, Isabel Felipe, Elisa Arguelles, Ana Rojas, Lizbeth Castellano, and Peng Zhang.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 4, 2016) – The top 11 of the more than 1,300 University of Miami employees who registered for Walking ’Canes this year to quantify and increase their daily physical activity, namely walking, were recognized for their success Thursday at a breakfast hosted by Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., dean of the Miller School of Medicine.

Supported by the Department of Wellness and Recreation, Walking ’Canes is a 12-week program open to all University of Miami employees who use pedometers to track the number of steps they take take each day, earning points for reaching their weekly step goal and bonus points for weight loss. At the breakfast, several of the top point-winners shared the secrets to their success. Lizbeth Castellano, the conference coordinator for the Miller School’s Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, said she gave up her car on the weekends.

“I did all my errands on foot,” Castellano said. “I saved gas, spent less money because I only bought what I could carry, and I lost an average of 1.3 pounds a week.”

This year’s top winner, Isabel Felipe, senior administrative assistant in the Miller School’s Department of Medicine, said she was motivated to participate by her health. “My doctor told me that if I didn’t lose weight, I was at risk for developing diabetes. That got my attention. By the end of the program, I lost 13 percent of my body weight and I feel great!”

“Healthy employees are productive employees,” said Tony Musto, director of fitness programs at the Patti and Herbert Wellness Center and UHealth Fitness & Wellness Center. “Offering employee wellness programs like Walking ’Canes shows employees that the University genuinely cares about their health and well-being.”

Including Castellano and Felipe, the top participants, who represented a variety of University departments from both the Coral Gables and Miller School campuses, are:

  • Elisa Arguelles, surgical oncology fellowship coordinator, Department of Surgery
  • Ana Martha Ayala, director, College of Engineering
  • Pamela Capman, training specialist, Office of Research Administration
  • Lizbeth Castellano, conference coordinator, Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology
  • Isabel Felipe, senior administrative assistant, Department of Medicine
  • Juniette Fiore, communications specialist, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Carmen Ortega, secretary, Department of Psychology
  • Marta Pina, administrative assistant, Radiation Control Center
  • Ana Rojas, manager, Imaging Core for Research and Training
  • Kris Roth, grant accountant, Office of Research Administration
  • Peng Zhang, postdoctoral associate, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

As Musto noted, “Walking ’Canes is popular because of its simple approach to increasing daily physical activity. Since time is often the greatest barrier to exercise, the idea behind Walking ’Canes is for participants to increase their healthy lifestyle activities—the things they do every day—without the need to go to a gym.”

Prizes this year included airline tickets courtesy of the UM’s Business Services and tickets to an event at the BankUnited Center, courtesy of Global Spectrum. BUC tickets were raffled off to Zhang and Rojas. For being the top two point earners, Felipe and Pina were awarded a roundtrip airline ticket.

More information about Walking ’Canes is available online at www.miami.edu/walkingcanes.


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Bending Over Backwards to Stay Healthy: Yoga Class Provides Body and Soul Experience

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 23, 2015) – With exercise mats unfurled, about 100 University of Miami students, faculty, and staff participated in “UM’s Largest Yoga Class” on Tuesday, stretching their spines and twisting their torsos in an hour-long session held at the Herbert Wellness Center.

Led by seven yoga instructors, two of whom walked about the Centre Court adjusting people’s posture, the free class combined movements of Vinyasa, Prana, and other forms of yoga and was part of the Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) #HealthyCampus Week. During the weeklong initiative, the Wellness Center and UM Dining teamed up with other departments and divisions to highlight and promote the University’s health and wellness initiatives.

“We want to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice at UM,” said Scott Levin, executive director of the Department of Wellness and Recreation.

Levin noted that last year, UM joined 19 other colleges and universities to become part of the PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative, a three-year commitment aimed at making college and university campuses healthier by adopting guidelines around nutrition, physical activity, and programming.

The Wellness Center is celebrating 20 years of defining wellness for the University of Miami community and will honor its anniversary with several special programs and events throughout the year. For more information about PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative or the Wellness Center’s 20-year anniversary celebration, visit miami.edu/wellness.

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Spring Break? Not for Students Headed to BattleFrog

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Spring Break? Not for Students Headed to BattleFrog

By Mike Piacentino
Special to UM News 

BF_Alison Scudds

Team member Alison Scudds, a senior studying biomedical engineering, is president of the ’Canes Crossfit Club

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 4, 2015) – UM students are serious about fitness. So serious, that four students will forego the stereotypical college Spring Break to compete in the first three-day BattleFrog Collegiate Championship, beginning March 12 in Orlando.

UM’s team, supported by the Department of Wellness and Recreation, is comprised of two females and two males who represent the “best of the best” of UM students who compete in obstacle course races. They are:

  • Steven De Nicola, a senior studying marketing, who is the designated team manager and a member of the University’s triathlon club, TriCane;
  • Adam O’Reilly, a senior studying economics and military and ecosystem sciences, who is a member of  UM’s Army ROTC program and has competed in obstacle course racing for five years;
  • Alison Scudds, a senior studying biomedical engineering who is president of the ’Canes Crossfit Club and a personal trainer at the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center;
  • Leah Vertullo, a graduate of The Ohio State University, who is a first-year doctoral student in physical therapy. She is a member of the ’Canes Crossfit Club.

“The whole team is excited and ready to go,” said De Nicola. “I have been friends with Alison and Adam since my first year on campus and have seen them compete in several events. Leah is one of Alison’s workout partners and seemed like a natural fit to the team.”

Although the field of competitors hasn’t been finalized, other top institutions are expected to compete. The first “Preliminary” round is slated to pit each school against one of its traditional rivals.

Following this seeding round, the competition will continue in a traditional 16-team, single-elimination bracket. Beyond bragging rights for a year, each member of the winning team receives a $2,000 scholarship. Additionally, each participating institution receives a $1,000 donation.

“I’m really impressed with UM’s team,” said Scott Levin, executive director of the Department of Wellness and Recreation at the University of Miami. “It’s almost a cross-section of the UM student population. We have students of diverse backgrounds, with diverse interests and campus involvements coming together to represent the University of Miami on the national stage.”

Video coverage of the event is set to appear on ESPN2 in May/June and will be repeated several times on EPSNU and other ESPN networks. Visit miami.edu/wellness for more information on UM’s BattleFrog team and participation in the event.


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