CHAMP program promotes healthy lifestyle

Many University of Miami students most likely made a New Year’s resolution to become more focused on their fitness in 2011. However, setting goals can be tricky without understanding your current level of conditioning.

Most people might not even know where to begin with their exercise routine. Luckily for students, the Wellness Center offers the Canes Health Assessment Motivation Program, also known as CHAMP.

The purpose of this program is to help students understand their own level of fitness and what they need to do to improve it in a healthy way. Norm Parsons, the director at the Wellness Center, highly recommends the program to any student looking to improve their lifestyle.

“It lays the foundation for a higher quality of life,” Parsons explained.

CHAMP consists of different measurements and conditioning tests that help pinpoint a person’s fitness level. Participants start by having key readings taken, such as height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure and body fat.

Then it’s on to the conditioning portion of the exam. First, your heart rate is monitored  as you walk at an incline for an extended period of time. This is followed by one minute of sit-ups and a push-up test. The latter is untimed and lasts until you lose good form, change your pace or just simply can’t go on any longer.

The exam finishes off with a flexibility test and a grip strength test. Once the exam is finished, the numbers are punched in the computer program  to figure out how you scored in each test compared to others in your age group. And the results help determine  what areas you need to work on to improve your fitness.

The CHAMP program isn’t just for those new to fitness. According to Josh Cantor, an exercise physiology graduate intern at the Wellness Center, CHAMP is also very important to people who work out regularly.

“Even if you are in good shape,  this helps quantify the changes you still have to make,” Cantor said.

Some students may wonder if all his testing is affordable. No need to worry, though. The CHAMP test is no charge to students, Parsons said.

“The bricks outside on the Love Bridge, we sell them for $500 [apiece] and that pays for the CHAMP exam,” he said.

Nefra-Ann MacDonald is a first-year law student who took advantage of CHAMP to better her lifestyle. Before CHAMP, she wasn’t working out due to all the hours she had to spend studying. That made her a bit nervous about what the results of the test would show.

“I think I hesitated to do it because I was afraid of what I would find out,” MacDonald said. “But it’s a great motivator and the trainers know how to combine exercise and adjustments in your diet to make the plan work for your lifestyle.”

Even if you are not looking to spend a lot of time in the gym, CHAMP can help you focus on the little things in your body you need to take care of. For example, the exam helped MacDonald make walking around campus much easier.

“Before the assessment, my biggest complaint was shoulder and back pains from carrying my heavy books,” MacDonald said. “But now I know it was because I wasn’t focusing on those muscles like I should have been.”
The Wellness Center encourages all students to come in like MacDonald did and get started on fulfilling the goal of a more responsible lifestyle as soon as possible.

“Now is a real good time,” Cantor said. “Just an hour of your time and you can have this information and assistance for no charge.”

Andres Correa may be contacted at