Donesha Thomas knows what it is like to be a wife and working mother. She also knows what it is like to gain a few pounds. Four years ago, she had just given birth to her second child and found that she had gained a significant amount of weight during pregnancy. With the support of her husband Nate, Donesha determined to set a weight loss goal of 25 lbs., and started working out at the gym. She quickly fell in love with the workouts and lost the 25 lbs. But she also wanted to maintain her new health-conscious lifestyle. “As a wife and a mother, we get so consumed and overwhelmed…working out is my “me” time and a step to finding myself again.” Donesha’s “me time” hobby quickly became a passion and she became a certified personal trainer. She’s been able to maintain her weight loss, strengthen her body and help others do the same. Donesha brought her passion for exercise to the Concord Campus this fall with the intention of helping faculty, staff and students get in shape, lead healthier lifestyles, and manage stress.
“When I work out, I feel good, and I stress less,” Donesha says. She is determined to help others feel the same.
Donesha is a part of the new fitness program at the Concord Campus, which kicked off in October with the opening of a new fitness park adjacent to the art lab. Composed of six exercise elements on a permanent rubberized mat, the part was designed for self-paced or directed workouts for adults aged 14-100. When not in use, the adjacent Redwood Room is also cleared to allow for indoor exercise.
The park, a collaborative effort by the campus and Associated Students Inc., was formally opened in an October ceremony. Donesha was on hand to demonstrate to students, faculty, and staff, the operation of the park elements.
Now, after just three months at the campus students and staff alike are seeing results. Marisa Capote, a junior on the Concord campus says “working out with the personal trainers relieved stress from all my classes and helped me clear my mind. I have grown stronger and lost weight, I have been meeting my body and health goals.” Starting at Concord as a freshman, Marisa desired to have a gym on campus. “When I found out that there was no gym [at Concord], I debated whether to transfer over to Hayward.”
Donesha teaches special needs students with mild to severe disabilities when she is not helping faculty, staff, and students at the Concord Campus. The patience, kindness, commitment and determination skills she uses in the classroom carry over to her work in personal training. You hear the positive motivation she gives in each one of the workout sessions. “You can do it, keep going,” are just a few. As Caitlyn Juntos, a CSUEB junior majoring in the Liberal Studies-Teacher Preparation program says “I’ve lost 20 lbs, my endurance is up and the other day I did 20 push-ups. I’ve never done a push up in my life!” Donesha, along with her training partner Jeremy, “are so positive, it keeps me coming back. They don’t have a problem sharing their personal story to give you that push, which I think we all need.”
Gaia Bigiotti, an Italian PhD researcher in Entomology/Microbiology, who works with Cal State East Bay faculty member Dr. Carol Lauzon, agrees. “Donesha and Jeremy taught me that you have to push yourself to your own limit, you have to believe in who you are, in what you could do because you can… believe in your capabilities, because you have them if you trust yourself!” Back in Italy “I will continue my workouts, thinking about them saying “YOU CAN DO THIS, GOOD JOB, YOU CAN!” They are great trainers because they believe in what they do, they are tough… they teach you how to be strong and how to believe that you can do an excellent job.”
Personal training and fitness services are free to all faculty, students, and staff through a partnership with Leadership Employee Enrichment Program (LEEP) and Associated Students Incorporated (ASI). Having a workout program and fitness options at the Concord Campus has long been the desire of the entire campus community. Personal Training is available Monday-Thursday from 4 pm – 6 pm.
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