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Exercise physiology students run training program

Kristyn Comino­

2 September 2015: Every Thursday afternoon, mother and son duo Denise and Daniel Brown attend a fitness program at the University of Canberra gym in the Sporting Commons, where they take part in a range of exercises under the guidance of exercise physiology students.

Mr Brown, 27, has Down syndrome and competes in golf and tenpin bowling for the Special Olympics. He said it's "really good" to take part in the University's student-run program, where he is doing exercises including rowing and weights training to build his strength and range of movement.

Mrs Brown said she's watched her son's strength and confidence improve, and at 62, the breast cancer survivor and international dragon boating competitor has also gained confidence of her own.

"We feel very comfortable here, it's a welcoming place for us to learn about exercise and it's a nice thing for Daniel and I to do together, we really enjoy it. It's been great for Daniel but it's been good for me too, we feel great since doing the program," Mrs Brown said, who is trained by student Brady Foreman with her son trained by Rebecca Eisenhauer.

"Daniel and Bec get along very well, she is fantastic with him. A lot of students probably aren't usually around people with disabilities so I think this also helps give them an awareness of what people can do, not what they can't do," Mrs Brown added. 

The free program is run by third-year Bachelor of Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation students and forms part of their placement requirements for their degree. Open to anyone with a UC Fit! gym membership, the program has been going for three months to help members of the community of all ages and abilities to improve their fitness while providing real work experience for the students.

Ms Eisenhauer, 21, said it's been particularly rewarding working with someone with disability.

"It's been great getting to know Daniel and his mum. I've learnt a lot, every client has different challenges but the chance to work with a person with disability has been very rewarding. I've learnt how to communicate and explain all of the exercises clearly so that Daniel can properly develop his skills and correctly execute the movements," Ms Eisenhauer said.

"Daniel's goal was for overall body movement and fitness and I've watched him improve so much during this program. At first Daniel couldn't coordinate the cross trainer, it was a difficult range of movement for him as you need to move both legs and arms at once in a specific way, but now he's able to do it and he does so with confidence."

The exercise physiology placement program is also part of a broader initiative run by the Special Olympics, who are housed at the University's Sporting Commons. Their Healthy Athletes program aims to educate on healthy eating and exercise habits amongst its participants, with the exercise component run by the students in collaboration with the University.

Special Olympics sport development manager Rob Regent said it's been great having the students on board to help with the exercise component of the initiative, adding that the organisation would like to continue working with the University in future.

"This is a great collaboration with the University of Canberra. The exercise physiology students have fantastic skills and knowledge, so for our athletes to have access to that level of expertise to help them train has been excellent," Mr Regent said.

The student-run exercise physiology program is still open to any members of the public who are UC Fit! gym members. You can sign up by emailing the program's coordinator Kim Wilmshurst: