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Students help employees get ‘INShape’

IUPUI student D. Martin trains Jose Rivera Espada, director of financial aid at the IU School of ... IUPUI student D. Martin trains Jose Rivera Espada, director of financial aid at the IU School of Medicine, through the INShape program. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University. “INShape always has people come back, because they love it so much,” said D. Martin, a senior majoring in exercise science.

Through INShape, a service-learning program unique to the School of Health & Human Sciences at IUPUI, students in exercise science, fitness management or personal training are paired with clients for about nine weeks to serve as personal fitness trainers.

The students train with their clients, who are often faculty and staff, twice a week at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport on campus, and give them exercises to do on their own, said Rachel Swinford, the program’s co-director and co-creator.

“The exercises are based on the client’s individual goals and desires for the program,” she said. “We have 24 students right now doing training, but there’s 24 different workout programs happening because it’s all tailored to the individual.”

For students, INShape is an opportunity to get hands-on experience.

For clients, the cost of the program is a bargain.

“It’s very inexpensive personal training: $70 in the spring and fall semesters, and the summer is only $50,” Swinford said.

IUPUI student Devean C. Martin trains Jose Espada, Director of Student Financial Services and Ind... Affordability is one reason why Jose Rivera Espada, director of financial aid at the IU School of Medicine, is committed to the program. The engaged learning aspect is another reason.

“I feel like I have an obligation to be there for the student,” he said. “They’re training us, but at the same time, they’re still learning, and our participation is an important part of that process.”

Espada’s trainer in the fall 2022 semester was Martin. Not only did the program fulfill a course requirement, he found it personally rewarding.

“It’s just amazing to see a client thrive and grow,” Martin said. “Seeing Jose improve his strength and reach his goals, knowing that I helped him accomplish those things, it makes me proud.”

Co-director Stephen Fallowfield said it’s also rewarding to watch students grow in their journey as trainers.

“A lot of them are nervous in the beginning,” he said. “This is the first time they do a real experience. But their confidence typically grows, and we end up getting very positive feedback from the students and their clients.”

Others who work with the program say there are additional, less obvious benefits to INShape.

IUPUI student D. Martin trains Jose Rivera Espada, director of financial aid at the IU School of ... Credit: Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University“I think it’s really special that students get to work with staff administration, people who are integral to the university,” said Samia Vanderkolff, a graduate student who helps coordinate the program. “It brings the community a little bit closer together.”

“It kind of reminds you that faculty and staff are normal people; they need help just like everybody else,” said graduate student and fellow program coordinator Maddie Crisler.

Any IUPUI faculty or staff member, or Indianapolis resident over 18, can participate in INShape as a client. Registration information is sent to people who are on the program’s mailing list.

While spots are limited and clients are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, Crisler encourages people who are interested to sign up.

“Because we ask that clients miss no more than two sessions, sometimes people can’t participate because of their schedules,” she said. “Some semesters we struggle to get enough clients.”

Registration for the fall semester opens in August.

To join the mailing list or ask questions, email

Tia Broz is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.