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Lecture in sports studies Alesia Aumock leads a fitness class in the Roche Sports Complex. Madeleine Jepsen | Col­legian

Upbeat pop music, color-coded dumb­bells, and a cheerful face greet stu­dents walking into a fitness class led by Lec­turer in Sports Studies Alesia Aumock.

“When I think of Alesia Aumock, I think of her con­ta­gious, cheerful dis­po­sition,” said Asso­ciate Dean of Women Rebekah Dell ’06, who par­tic­i­pated in Aumock’s classes as a member of the staff. “She’s a cheer­leader at heart when you’re working out with her. She never takes the smile off her face and encourages you at every level.”

Although Aumock said she enjoys working with people of all fitness levels in her exercise classes, she espe­cially loves the chal­lenge of teaching beginners and making workouts fun — an oppor­tunity she’s had many times in her 33 years of working as a fitness instructor.

“I think my favorite par­tic­ipant or student is someone who feels like they have two left feet,” Aumock said. “I embrace chal­lenges, and they always come out with a left and right foot, you know what I mean? The other thing is getting them in the weight room, too. Some people feel intim­i­dated, and I try to make it fun and try to get small groups to go together.”

Even Aumock first thought the weight room looked intim­i­dating, she said, until someone showed her the ropes. A Hillsdale native, Aumock first became inter­ested in fitness classes when she signed up to be a par­tic­ipant for a research study run by a physical edu­cation instructor at the college about the ben­efits of weight training for women.

“I came right up here because I wanted to get into the study, and when I got here she said she signed up her last person and didn’t have any more room,” Aumock said. “But next to her was standing an assistant football coach, and he said, ‘I’ll show you how to use the weights.’”

From there, Aumock started using a uni­versal machine and became a cer­tified fitness instructor. In 1984, she began teaching classes at Jackson Fitness and Aer­obics Center in Jackson, Michigan, and EXERFIT Fitness Center in Jonesville, Michigan.

In October 1989, Aumock helped start the Hillsdale College Fitness Program and began teaching an aerobic dance class in the physical edu­cation department. She said her position grew as time went on, and she began teaching other classes such as weight training, indoor cycling, methods of teaching physical edu­cation, deep-water aer­obics, and mat science.

“Since the early ’80s, we used to just do dance to music, and then we would do more mat-pilates, but now we infuse all kinds of fitness equipment like elastic cords and bands, so there’s a lot more variety,” Aumock said. “Over the years, I’ve embraced the variety of the types of workouts because it keeps things fresh, and a variety of exercise keeps you safe.”

Over the course of her time teaching at Hillsdale, Aumock said she has taught aerobic fitness classes to all of Hillsdale’s sports teams. She remembers teaching Dean of Men Aaron Petersen as an under­graduate student during the football team’s spring training.

She also taught gym classes at the Hillsdale Academy and coached the Hillsdale College cheer­leading team for several years, drawing on her expe­rience as a varsity cheer­leader at Hillsdale High School in the ’70s when the Hornet football team won the Class B State Cham­pi­onship.

Now, she teaches Physical Wellness Dynamics and helped teach the course’s labs when the class was first offered.

“I like to some­times teach physical wellness in the cycle room and make everyone cycle while I’m doing the Pow­er­Point,” Aumock said.

She also teaches a variety of fitness classes for stu­dents, faculty, staff, and com­munity members.

“It’s like a fruit salad — there are all kinds of dif­ferent people in the fitness program classes, ranging from age 13 to 84,” Aumock said.

Beyond fos­tering a fun and encour­aging atmos­phere in classes, Aumock has also gone the extra mile to help indi­vidual stu­dents improve their fitness, Dell said.

“She’s perfect because she starts you out, she makes sure you’re com­fortable, and grows you into your physical fitness journey. She’s kind of like a mom — I’ve known her to work one-on-one with stu­dents who need that extra support, and she’s great at working with them.”

Aumock said she struggled with her own fitness after losing her hearing five years ago, which required here to re-learn how to speak and teach again, and also during the past two years when she served as a care­giver for her mother. She said these times were some of the biggest chal­lenges she’s faced while trying to teach classes and maintain her own physical health.

Though Aumock leads fitness classes, she said the classes she teaches aren’t her workout. During a typical class, she keeps busy checking par­tic­i­pants’ safety, inter­acting with the par­tic­i­pants in the back of the room, and talking — the social com­ponent of wellness, she said. To maintain her own fitness, Aumock said she enjoys walks around Slayton Arboretum and Baw Beese Lake.

“I like being out in nature and doing my cardio,” Aumock said.

Aumock said she also enjoys seeing how former stu­dents have gone on to incor­porate fitness into their lives. One student, Lec­turer in Sports Studies Leah Novak, became a fitness instructor after taking one of Aumock’s classes.

“I dis­tinctly remember her in aer­obics class up in the old, old dance studio long before the ren­o­va­tions hap­pened to the Sports Complex, getting us to laugh when the tempo and intensity of the exer­cises went up. It was great,” Novak said in an email. “Inci­den­tally, I lost 30 pounds that semester.”

Long after her stu­dents’ sore muscles have recovered, the memory of a good workout remains.

“I had never taken a cycling class before hers, so I will always appre­ciate the love of cycling classes she instilled in me,” Dell said. “I will never forget the sore muscles after that first class and thinking, ‘Wow, this is a good workout.’ She helped me catch onto some­thing new and great, and that will always stick with me.”