Bronco Spotlight: Beth Northuis
Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness Programs at Western Michigan University
I plan, coordinate, and implement various fitness and wellness programs for students, faculty and staff. I develop and administer programs aimed at improving employee and student health and well-being. I also oversee and manage Western Wellness (employee wellness program), group fitness, Functional 45 (F45), personal training and aquatics. In addition, I hire, train, evaluate, and supervise student employees, graduate assistants, fitness specialists, program assistants, interns, fitness instructors/trainers, aquatics staff.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The connections that I get to make with our student, faculty and staff participants through the various fitness and wellness programs is what makes this job so rewarding. I love seeing how our programs have a positive impact on our participant's lives. Over the course of a student/faculty/staff's time at WMU, I have been able to see participants learn and grow in their knowledge of fitness, achieve goals, and improve their overall health and well-being. Covid has definitely made me rethink how we could offer fitness programming virtually. Although the pandemic changed how we all live, work, and play this challenge pushed me to think outside of the box professionally. I can proudly say that we were able to offer virtual, hybrid, and in-person fitness programming to the WMU community during a very difficult time. By providing an outlet to work out virtually from home we created a community of support and a sense of normalcy for so many in the WMU community until we can all safely return for in-person programming.
What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?
During my undergrad at Hope College, I had several opportunities that led me to complete my master's in Sport Management from WMU and my career today. At Hope, I studied exercise science with an emphasis on fitness and wellness. I knew that I wanted to take a different path than many of my classmates who were pursuing PT or OT programs after graduation. I loved sports, coaching, exercise, fitness, and working in a gym but wasn't sure how I could take my interests and make them into a career. In my senior year, I had an internship working at a senior fitness facility (55+ age group) where I was able to gain valuable hands-on experience teaching fitness classes, working one-on-one with clients, and creating fitness programs/challenges for their members. This internship gave me a sense of direction and led to me pursuing several fitness certifications, working for the YMCA as an instructor and trainer before landing a full-time job in campus recreation at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as their Fitness and Wellness Specialist. It wasn't until I applied for this position did I formally know about the world of campus recreation. This position at UW-Stevens Point allowed me the ability to gain valuable skills, network with others within our state and national organization. This newfound community in campus recreation opened my eyes to other professional opportunities including one at Western Michigan University. In 2016 I was hired into my role as the Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness Programs. I did not have my master's degree but I knew that it was something I wanted to pursue to continue to grow professionally. Obtaining my master's degree in Sport Management enhanced my knowledge and skills that I acquired over the years working in fitness and campus recreation. Throughout my studies at WMU in Sport Management, I was able to take a hands-on learning approach from what I was learning in the classroom and applying it to the work I was doing each day for my full-time job. I gained skills in marketing, sales, consumerism, project management, budgeting, sport law, Title IX, and human resource management. I am so thankful for the journey I have been on to get me to this point because without all of these experiences I wouldn't have found a job and career I love!
What advice do you have for others pursuing a career similar to yours?
I would encourage students to get involved early, talk to professors or staff that are working in the area they are interested in to start building their network, look for an on-campus job that will help them gain hands-on or transferable skills, join a state or national organizations and attend conferences, obtain certifications because for many of them its a way you can start earning money as you gain experience before you graduate.