When Sofia West decided to enroll at BYU-Idaho, she knew she was sacrificing her chances to compete in the United Fighting Championship. After her mission, she began boxing classes and had a strong desire to enter the competitive fighting ring. But in the fall of 2021, the freshman from California ended up in Rexburg.
“I knew that my education was first,” West said.
UFC training provided a way for her to stay healthy. Rexburg had no gym for her to train at. Though she did not plan on fighting, her personal fitness was still important to her. So, she signed up for Fit4Life.
The BYU-I Fit4Life program kicked off the new year with its winter opening social earlier this month. In the days surrounding it, trainers and participants old and new described how the semester-long program leads students to a lifetime of good health and fulfillment.
BYU-Idaho’s Wellness Center, located in Hart 174, offers several services and programs related to physical, mental, financial and social wellness. Its stated purpose, according to its website, is to “promote a balanced, happy life.”
Fit4Life is a semester-long program that offers students a personal trainer and a wellness coach. For $25, any BYU-I student can meet with a fitness trainer of their choosing to develop goals, create a customized workout plan and train with them. Students may also choose a wellness coach who will consult them in nutrition and their other wellness goals.
Students who have not yet registered can sign up throughout the semester.
With no extra charge, participants gain access to a separate gym, body composition assessments and cholesterol screenings.
When West came to Rexburg, one of her concerns was what is often termed “the freshman fifteen.”
“Sometimes when you move to a new school you get stressed, you don’t know how to adjust so you usually gain weight,” West said. “I wanted to avoid that.”
UFC training helped her maintain a stable weight, but it was still a struggle to lose any. As she began her new workout and nutrition plan with her Fit4Life coaches, it took a couple of weeks to adjust to her calorie limit.
“It was kind of like a trial-and-error period for a couple of weeks and then we finally figured out a balance,” West said.
Her busy schedule and non-immediate results discouraged her from continuing at times, but she attributed much of her motivation to persevere to her coaches.
“They really showed me a lot of patience,” she said.
At the Fit4Life opening social on Jan. 20, new participants had the opportunity to mingle with all the fitness trainers and wellness coaches before deciding who they would choose as their own.
Nina Tulieva, a new Fit4Life participant from Ukraine, said she was looking for a trainer who was relatable and non-intimidating, but also direct and honest.
According to Fit4Life coordinator Olivia Despain, a senior studying public health, trainers must pass a class called Strength Training Theory and Application. Wellness coaches must pass Health Appraisal and Prescription. All must excel in the hiring process.
Students who attended the social were also given a packet with information about each wellness coach and trainer. It details their passions, interests and pursuits which allows their prospective clients to match themselves with coaches that will better meet their needs.
Hakan Strommer, a fitness trainer, spoke of the dedication of his colleagues.
“These people are really passionate about helping others … if you look outside the school for trainers that could be $50 to $100 per session. This is $25 for the whole semester, and we’re still willing to help you do it because it’s what we love doing,” Strommer said.
The low cost is enticing, but many college students are hesitant about the time commitment. Jessica Fleck, a former Fit4Life client, believes it is worth putting even a little time into.
“You don’t have to go to the gym every day or anything; even like once a week and getting educated on the equipment there I think is good,” Fleck said.
But a daily commitment yielded strong results for West. She was astonished at the progress she had made by the end of last Fall semester.
“I expected maybe like a one- or two-pound loss but to have a full ten was a miracle for me,” West said.
Even though the program lasts a semester, West said that the habits she developed have bled over into this current one.
Krystalina Duff, a fitness trainer native to Rexburg, spoke of how Fit4Life aims to prepare clients for a lifetime of success.
“It’s more than just a semester program, we want you guys to be able to learn the tools and have the experience and the application that you need for after you leave Rexburg and you’re in your own lives,” Duff said.