George Mason University

News at Mason

In this class it's the students who give the exams

August 7, 2017   /   by Damian Cristodero

Kinesiology major Matt Hetzer (right) monitors Mark Ginsberg, dean of Mason's College of Education and Human development, during a fitness test. Hetzer used the results to develop a fitness program specifically for Ginsberg. Photo by Ron Aira.

With a drop of sweat clinging to the tip of his nose and his shirt drenched from his effort, Mark Ginsberg slowed the pace of the treadmill from a brisk run to a slow walk.

“That was good,” the dean of George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development said of the 1.5-mile run.

And it was just the start, as during the next hour Ginsberg was put through several strength and flexibility tests, the results of which senior kinesiology major Matt Hetzer used to develop a fitness program specifically for Ginsberg.

Hetzer is one of 26 undergrads doing the same thing for their subjects as part of a class called Exercise Prescription and Programming (KINE 350), which provides George Mason students a chance for some real-world experience in fitness examination and evaluation, and allows them to create training techniques designed to address the goals and deficiencies of their clients.

Assistant Professor Joel Martin, who teaches the class, recruited volunteer subjects—20 women and six men, ages 18 to 64—from Mason faculty and staff, and even his own neighborhood.

“These are positive interactions for our students and an opportunity to give back to the community,” Martin said.

And it’s practical hands-on coursework, Ginsberg said.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to work in a real environment with real people, and to understand how to apply their knowledge with people who want to promote their own health,” he said.

For Hetzer, from Haymarket, Va., who said he already is a personal trainer, the class provides knowledge beyond what was necessary to pass his certification exam.

“I couldn’t imagine training someone if the only knowledge I had was on that test,” the transfer from Northern Virginia Community College said. “They have definitely equipped me here. The classes are very good. I enjoy it.”

Hetzer said Ginsberg, 64, who is a regular runner, is “in pretty good shape.”

Still, as he watched Ginsberg run at Mason’s Recreation and Athletic Complex on the Fairfax Campus, he noticed Ginsberg’s crossover running gait. That happens when a runner’s landing foot crosses the midline of his body, which can lead to pelvic rotation as well as foot, hip and back injuries, Hetzer said.

When doing pushups, instead of pointing his hands straight ahead and keeping his elbows tucked, Ginsberg turned his hands inward, which caused his elbows to flair. That, Hetzer said, puts unwanted pressure on Ginsberg’s shoulders.

“It’s good he’s active,” Hetzer said. “But doing exercises with poor mechanics can cause problems later down the line in terms of joint health, so it’s pretty crucial to get him doing those things correctly.”

Ginsberg appreciated the critique.

“You’re learning a lot about yourself,” he said, “not only in terms of fitness but generally about health.”

The class does not require students to keep up with their subjects after providing the exercise program, but Hetzer said Ginsberg has his phone number and email address in case he has any questions.

“I’ll reach out to him once the program runs out to see how he’s doing,” Hetzer said. “Even though it’s not for the class, it’s always good to keep in contact. He’s going to need to progress.”