WKU weightlifting instructor serves as mentor for students

Tracy Lane demonstrates the weight machines to her weightlifting class in Preston Center on Jan. 25. Lane was born in England, raised in South Africa and has been teaching at WKU since August 2009.

Monica Spees

WKU weightlifting instructor Tracy Lane reclined her desk chair in a black warm-up with white stripes down the sides.

“There’s nothing like wearing a warm-up to work every day,” Lane said.

Lane, a wife and a mother of two boys, is in her third year at WKU and keeps a full schedule of physical education classes. Her arsenal has included co-ed weight training as well as weight training for women, figure improvement, lifetime fitness and wellness, walking for wellness and badminton.

“When we come [to class], we’re going to have a good time,” said Lane, who works out with her students and encourages them to challenge themselves. “It’s not the matter of the A or the B… It’s about getting [the students] to keep doing it.”

Lane’s philosophy and dedication to her students has prompted former students’ names to continue popping up on her rosters.

“If I was not teaching in a manner that makes my students want to come back, then I shouldn’t be teaching,” Lane said.

Not only do Lane’s demeanor and teaching style keep former students returning, they attract new students as well.

Although she has not been teaching at WKU for long, the number of students in Lane’s classes buffs up to its limit almost as soon as class registration begins.

When preparing for her classes, Lane said she designs a program in which even students with no experience in the activity can fully participate without getting hurt. Lane stresses that her students learn proper form for exercises and makes modifications to workouts based on individual students’ needs.

Lane said she prides herself in the fact that most of the students going into her classes probably don’t realize that their instructor can run circles around them.

“I feel healthier now at 42 than I was as a student,” Lane said. “By eating right and having some form of exercise, you can lead a good life.”

Lane also attributed her versatility to her taking advantage of her own classes. She said she enjoys the flexibility she has to plan the classes she wants to teach, meaning she can muscle in an intense workout at one time and conclude the day with a cool-down.

After being born in England, Lane’s interest in fitness began as a young girl living with her family in South Africa. Her parents were both tennis players, and Lane started playing recreationally at 12, then more seriously at 14. She came to America on a tennis scholarship. She received her first head coaching job at 26 at Mississippi State after receving her master’s in physical education at Auburn University at Montgomery. Lane remained at Mississippi State for 13 years.

Lane said she considers enthusiasm a necessary quality of leadership.

“If you’re going to stand up and be a leader, you’ve got to lead,” Lane said.

Florence graduate student Suzanne Deevers is one of Lane’s former students and is now her teaching assistant and protégé. Although Deevers said she doesn’t plan on a coaching career, she said she has gleaned a lot from the coaching style Lane emanates when she teaches.

“She’s kind of trained me to working with students in that aspect,” Deevers said.

Deevers also said with a laugh that she wishes she could take all of Lane’s classes again.

“Everything she does, she does for her students,” Deevers said.

Benjamin Barnett, an exercise science major from Bowling Green, took Lane’s walking for wellness and weight training classes during winter term. He praised Lane’s teaching style as well as her spirit.

“She renewed my interest in staying in shape,” Barnett said.

Before enrolling in Lane’s classes, Barnett was unsure what he wanted his major to be. But he said Lane’s classes changed that.

“She helped open my eyes to what I wanted to do,” Barnett said.

While Lane’s instruction provides results for her students, she said she didn’t feel like an ordinary teacher.

“I don’t look at any of my classes as going to work,” Lane said. “I’ll be honest – I think I have the greatest job on campus.”