One of the first things students ask when they walk into my office is: “What can I do with a kinesiology major?” When I flip the question around and ask them what they’d like to do with it, the answer isn’t always definitive. Students need to develop an understanding of what is possible, and engage in experiences that will help them identify what they want to do – and how to get there.
That’s one of the reasons why we started 100 Citizens. Established in 2011 in the City of San Fernando’s Recreation Park, 100 Citizens is an exercise program that is free (accessible), sustainable (no external funding), and replicable. Kinesiology students who are educated and skilled in human movement lead community members in group exercise. Many of our students are bilingual and all are capable of teaching a diverse group of participants. The program is also a social experience where members of the community can meet each other and give each other support. We changed our name to 3 Wins Fitness to reflect the program’s outcomes: student benefit, participant fitness, and community health.
Since then, our impact has grown exponentially. The program has been extended from California State University (CSU), Northridge to three of our sister CSU institutions. We are in the process this academic year of expanding the program throughout the CSU system, with the ultimate goal of developing a business model for replicating the program across the country.
In 2012, we were recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, which challenged community organizations to share their programs in an international video competition. We believe that a public health solution to end childhood obesity must begin with the family, and we reach children by helping adults to become healthier role models. Our video submission for 100 Citizens won the popular choice vote and we visited the White House in 2013.
There were certainly some lessons learned along the way. Initially, we tried to give the idea to universities via a two-day workshop, but found that they had difficulty creating the infrastructure – or, they didn’t build their program to be sustainable. Now, we go directly to the universities and guide the development of the infrastructure to ensure sustainability. As part of our Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment to Action, we are raising funds to build this infrastructure at 20 CSU institutions for just $7,000 each. Once it’s built, there is no external funding required. We have had ours running and growing for 6 years without any external funding, serving over 250 participants each week
Once we establish scalability within the CSU system, it is our intent to create a business to facilitate successful expansion. This will create jobs for our students who have developed leadership and management skills. Hear more from our students and participants…
3 Wins Fitness is affordable, accessible, and sustainable, and has the capacity to improve public health, strengthen communities, and provide students with experiences that will help them succeed. But it’s also backed by scientific evidence. In a co-authored work with colleagues at the RAND Corporation, we concluded that creating a partnership between parks and kinesiology programs is a promising health promotion model. Replicating this type of program could yield important health dividends for communities across the country. Since this article, we have expanded to 5 additional parks in Northridge and 4 additional universities without external funding – and we plan to keep up the pace. Learn more about the expansion…
Tell your contacts in public health about 3 Wins Fitness. With no state below 20% obesity, it’s a solution that can and must happen now. The expansion of the program throughout the CSU system is being conducted by our CSU Northridge kinesiology students, who are empowering other students to make a difference in their communities. By taking something small and reproducing it on a larger scale, we can improve public health and well being across the country.
Steven Loy, Ph.D. is an exercise physiologist with current emphasis on creating more visibility for the field of Kinesiology in the Public Health arena. He has developed 3 Wins Fitness, a student delivered FREE exercise program for the community, which has been recognized at the White House as an example of what the profession of Kinesiology can do to improve the public’s health, particularly in underserved communities. You can learn more about this program at http://www.3winsfitness.com/.