Health, they say, is wealth. A fit staff performs extraordinarily excellent in his/ her job, and on this premise, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), has put in place a state-of-the-art fitness centre to help staff keep fit physically and otherwise in the discharge of their duties as well as maintain a good body posture. In this interview with the NOUN News correspondent, Debbie Nduba, the instructor of NOUN Fitness Centre, Mr. Ikwulono Friday, spoke on different fitness programms/services they offer, challenges, why staff should register and be part of the programme as well as the need to be physically fit.
Briefly who is Ikwulono Friday?
Mr. Ikwulono Friday is a graduate of Nasarawa State University, Keffi and a fitness instructor of the National Open University of Nigeria.
How many years has this gym been in operation?
The National Open University of Nigeria Fitness Centre has been in operation since March 10, 2022, which is about two years and it is being managed by Dr. O. R. Ogunleye of the Department of Human Kinetics and Health Education, as the coordinator.
What was the inspiration or idea behind the establishment of the gym and has it been meeting its proposed course?
The purpose of establishing the University Fitness Centre is to promote physical activity and exercise among staff, students, and the neighbouring established organisations and institutions, and help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. Also, it encourages a balanced approach to education, recognising the interconnectedness of physical and mental health with academic success.
What are the fitness programmes/ services available?
The training services we render at the centre include: crossFit, resistance training, personal training, weight control, stress management, aerobic training and research group training.
What are the challenges you have been encountering?
Electricity supply is a major concern, as most times power surge occurs and this causes damage to some of the equipment most especially the treadmill. Also, there is epileptic power supply, although, the fitness centre has a power generating set.
What is your unique selling point as compared to other gyms outside?
At NOUN Fitness Centre, we foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals of all fitness levels, backgrounds, and abilities, promoting diversity and acceptance. We have state-of-the-art fitness equipment. We offer discounted memberships for students, and staff as well as neighbouring institutions and organisations. We create outdoor workouts by incorporating natural elements into the training programme allowing members to enjoy the benefits of both indoor and outdoor fitness activities. We have certified and experienced fitness trainers who provide personalised guidance, training plans, and support for members pursuing specific fitness goals. The aesthetic and functional design of the gym space is an accommodating and motivating atmosphere that encourages regular attendance for any category of individuals.
How do you motivate a client who is not seeing immediate results from their fitness programme?
Fitness is a journey, and visible changes may take time. Therefore, the client should have realistic expectations about the timeframe for seeing results. Also, there are other benefits derived from fitness training, which include improved energy levels, increased stamina, better sleep, and enhanced mood among others, which are immediate results. Plateaus are a normal part of any fitness journey; therefore, plateaus don't necessarily mean a lack of progress; they may indicate the body is adapting. Therefore, I will encourage patience and perseverance during these phases with my clients.
How do you access a client fitness level before starting a programme?
Each member is expected to complete an evaluation form that reflects their health status, after which the blood pressure and body weight will be measured. We are working towards other fitness measurements such as heights, Body Mass Index, and cardiovascular fitness, among others.
What is your approach to ensuring safety and preventing injuries during training session?
Safety and prevention are ensured in the following ways:
I ensure adequate warm-up so as to prepare the muscles and joints for exercise. Also, correct usage of each piece of equipment and exercise techniques will be demonstrated for the clients while they practice to avoid strain or injury. I applied the principle of progression by increasing the intensity and weight gradually to allow the body to adapt. Adequate time for rest between workouts is always encouraged to prevent overtraining. Proper dressing in exercise dress as well as footwear is also important to prevent injury, regular maintenance of our equipment as well as proper handling.
What are the five cardiovascular exercises you can recommend to a client?
Cardiovascular exercises to be recommended include: walking, jogging, aerobics, cycling, and stair climbing
Are the equipment enough to get desired results needed for staff fitness?
The equipment as of now, are of high quality, hopefully more equipment such as a cross-country machine, rower, another multi-station gym machine, stadiometer, flexibility box, medicine balls, kettle bells, dynamometer, fitness tracker, electrocardiogram machine, among others can be introduced. More so, one of the treadmills is currently faulty and we are working towards fixing it. However, expansion is recommended soon.
What are the strategies you devised in managing time and schedule with multiple staff?
Since the clients come at different times of the day and weeks, the training schedule has always been under control. However, soon, each client will be encouraged to select days of training for proper planning.
What is your projection for this gym in the next two years as regards fitness of staff?
In the next two years, it is envisaged that the NOUN Fitness Centre will have a serene relaxation centre were our clients can relax after workouts. More staff, both academic and non-academic staff would have benefitted from the gym in the highest possible ways by being physically fit and will improve their job delivery. My coordinator, the person of Dr. O. R. Ogunleye aims for the centre to become a research centre for both staff and students of NOUN as well.
What advice do you have for staff as regards fitness?
Being physically fit should be a way of life to adopt. The university management can set an example by prioritising fitness in their routines as this will create a positive culture and encourage others to follow suit. Note that there is a connection between physical and mental well-being and health is wealth.