If you have ever taken a group fitness class in the Rec center, chances are that you’ve sweated through it with UTM Coordinator of Fitness, Kimberly Olive-Milligan. She may have even been your teacher.
Every now and then, she will teach a class when a student instructor cannot. She currently teaches a cycling class called “Party Cycle” with Coordinator of Facilities and Activities, Leslie Ams, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
As part of her position, Kimberly is also a fitness assistant and helps to oversee the center. Her duties include managing student workers, planning and collaborating special events, such as the annual Halloween Glow and the Yoga Glow in the Spring semester, and organizing the group classes. She also conducts private classes for $40 per session for UTM athletic teams. She began in March 2010, shortly after the student recreation center opened. There were no group workout sessions at the time, and she made it her ‘mission’ to launch the program.
“It’s more about empowering and motivating and seeking out students who want those leadership roles to teach the class,” said the Murray State University and Indiana University graduate. She has a theater degree from Murray and a master’s of communication from Indiana.
In the beginning, Kimberly taught the classes herself with the help of community members. She was able to get more help through teaching a Health and Human Performance course called Methods of Group Exercise Instruction.
“It’s been a nice collaboration because then I’m able to pull instructors from that course,” she said.
This is how student instructor, Elizabeth Longwell, a biology major from Centerville, Tennessee, got started in January.
“I love working for Kim as a group fitness instructor,” she said. “… I have learned so much from her and she continues to help educate me on not only health and fitness, but also how to improve as a group fitness instructor. She is a great boss and a very positive influence!”
Interested students are evaluated in a demonstration on their speaking skills, form, technique, inclusiveness and passion. If accepted, the instructors get certified and receive more training from Milligan. They will then move on to shadow another instructor.
In addition to selecting instructors, she also designs the classes, with instructor input, and makes the schedule. Additionally, she chooses a yearly program theme and slogan.
She works at the center Monday through Friday and works out when she can. Her weekly routine consists of elliptical work, cycling and the occasional easy run. Sometimes she even participates in one of the group classes. At home, she takes five to ten minutes a day to do other exercises such as squats, planks, and push-ups. She encourages others to do the same because ‘everybody has five minutes.’
“‘Fall in love with taking care of yourself’ is one of my favorite quotes,” she said. “I love eating healthy and working out. I’m so much of a better person for it.”
Off campus, Kimberly likes to play lawn games, like badminton, with her family, as well as hike and do karaoke. She also enjoys experimenting with vegan recipes, like vegan sushi, and gushed about how good it was.
“You’ve got to really like taking care of yourself and it’s OK to take that selfish hour everyday of 45 minutes, or 20 minutes, or even 10 minutes to take care of yourself and eat healthy,” she said.
(Kimberly Olive-Milligan, center, teaches a yoga class. | Photo Provided)