Faculty promotes exercise on campus

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The University of Indianapolis physical wellness resources provide multiple ways for students and staff to work on their fitness including Zumba, yoga, pilates and access to fitness centers. Health and Wellness Director and Yoga Instructor Katherine Matutes works with the community to promote physical well being. Matutes teaches three classes at UIndy for employees including a medium vinyasa class on Mondays, power yoga on Wednesdays and restorative yoga on Fridays. She holds yoga classes that are open to all students. 

Matutes has a doctorate degree in nutrition from Purdue University, which she originally intended to use for a career in university-level teaching. She started working at the Jewish Community Center after graduate school and became a personal trainer there.

“I started working as a personal trainer just to have a little something to do,” Matutes said. “I thought, ‘Oh this will keep me a little bit busy and will give me something to do that feels productive, but is not going to overwhelm me.’”

With a background in dance when she was younger, Matutes said that she has always loved fitness and yoga as a hobby. Matutes said that when she was pregnant with her first child she began implementing yoga into her daily exercise. She said that this opened the opportunity for her to teach classes at JCC, which led to her getting her yoga instructor certification. Matutes took over as the Director of Health UIndy Health and Wellness in fall 2019.

In the year and a half that Matutes has been a part of the UIndy community, she has offered classes for students, staff, and faculty. Matutes said that she has tried to encourage the people around her to make health and fitness a part of their daily lives. Matutes said that her position as the Director of Health and Wellness at UIndy combines her passion for fitness, yoga, and nutrition.

“One of the things that appeals to me about working here is that I’m working with students, so I’m helping educate the next generation in wellness,” Matutes said. “Before I was working with a stagnant population. Here there is a turnover because the students graduate and move on.”

Photo by Madison Gomez Health and Wellness Director and Yoga Instructor Katherine Matutes pushes on Admissions Counselor Krista Hensley’s back to create minor adjustment. Matutes went around the room doing the same for each participant, asking them to breathe through poses.

Matutes said she hopes her work will have a ripple effect on student and employee wellness. She also works with UIndy’s Be Well program where she promotes a healthy culture within the employees at UIndy. The Be Well program aspires to create a wellness culture at UIndy through collaborating with the community to utilize campus expertise and to provide practical experience, according to the Be Well website.

“It allowed me to have a bigger impact in the community,” Matutes said. “I wasn’t just working with individuals. I was working with groups of people and the community at large.”

Making movements around the office and encouraging employees to do the same is something that Matutes said she wants to make part of a normal workday. She said that activities, like laps around the track or taking the stairs are good examples of things that can break up long periods of sitting at a desk. She has provided tool kits called motivation stations that include a therapy cane, which is used to work out knots in the back, massage rollers to work out tension, a frisbee and a medicine ball. Matutes encourages the departments to take these kits and use them throughout the workday.  

“Helping develop the nutrition program is definitely on my radar,” Matutes said. “I would like to see the Wellness Program expand more to the employees. We would like to integrate more of Be Well into the curriculum for students to be involved in experiential learning so that they become service providers.”

In terms of the future, she is helping UIndy develop a dietetics internship program for students that are exercise science majors. Matutes said she hopes that wellness programming can expand and integrate into the Be Well program. At the Be Well second annual kickoff event held at UIndy on Jan. 17, Matutes helped students interact with stress management activities.

Matutes said that she wants to help students feel more prepared to enter the personal training workforce and find jobs because most employers tend to hire experienced trainers. According to Matutes, students that are in the exercise science program have the opportunity to work with UIndy students and staff at the fitness centers in order to get the required experience.

“Students still have access to those professors after they graduate,” w said. “They have this deep knowledge that’s not just book experience, but actual physical experience with clients, which is a different animal.”

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