Professors hit the gym, not just the books

WKU political science professor Edward Yager poses for a portrait during a swim workout in the Powell Natatorium. Andrew Livesay/HERALD

Sydney Rae Davis

For Amanda Clark, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being physically active are crucial priorities in her life. She takes her personal health seriously after she received a cancer diagnosis a few years ago.

“I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t have any history of [cancer]. I exercise regularly and still, I could get sick like that,” Clark said. “So I just think we need to be proactive and take care of our bodies. The more we can do to help extend our life, the better.”

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, the associate professor, 36, of the department of theatre and dance stays active while teaching jazz and tap dance classes at WKU.

Outside the classroom, Clark also enjoys group training sessions that offer a mix of cardiovascular and strength because of the social element and group accountability. 

Additionally, she does body conditioning on the TRX equipment at her gym as well as interval training. 

Clark is not the only professor on the Hill who enjoys going to the gym. At 63 years old, Ed Yager, a professor in the department of political science, enjoys swimming three to four times a week to stay active. 

“You’re able to exercise your entire body, and it’s really good cardiovascular exercise,” he said.

Yager also noted that he has tried to be a physically active person for most of his life. He began swimming competitively in high school, and over 40 years later, he still enjoys getting his weekly laps in.

“At the end of a swimming workout, I’m not exhausted at all. In fact, I’m rejuvenated,” Yager said. “It has the effect of kind of renewing your energy.”

He also stays physically fit by playing racquetball with colleagues, using the elliptical machine and lifting free weights in the Preston Center. 

Another professor, Jeanie Adams-Smith, 46, sticks to CrossFit to stay in shape.

The photojournalism professor enjoys a high-intensity CrossFit workout because it works her entire body and offers a non-traditional workout.

“It’s a core-based workout, so I’m getting cardio, and I’m getting strength building,” Smith said. “I like that every day I walk in there, it’s something different. It’s never boring.”

Adams-Smith said fitness is important to her because it increases her energy and endurance levels during the day, makes her feel better overall and provides great camaraderie. 

Although she works out five times a week on average, Adams-Smith said making time for the gym can be difficult.

“I think that’s the biggest challenge —just fitting everything in,” Adams-Smith admitted. 

Rather than sleeping in, however, she gets a head start on her day by waking up at 5 a.m. She makes a healthy breakfast for her daughter, takes her to school and gets a CrossFit session in at CrossFit Old School — all before teaching class.

For those who struggle to find time to exercise, Adams-Smith offers this advice: “Get up a little earlier and make it happen.”