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New prof developing life fitness program

If anyone wonders why a Life Fitness course is a breadth requirement at Eastern, there is a new faculty member on campus who has the answer. Tom Franek is the new director of Eastern’s Life Fitness program, as well as the Clinical Coordinator for the University’s athletic training education program.

From his handshake to his conversational energy, Franek exudes health. He’s the kind of guy that looks as if he just ran a 10k race without being winded.

Franek, who has taught part-time at Eastern for two years, recently left his athletic trainer position at Gwynedd Mercy College to become a full-time faculty member at Eastern. He now commutes 50 minutes from Reading each day, where he lives with his wife and young son. His responsibilities include overseeing the academic training of Eastern’s athletes as well as developing the Life Fitness program, which now offers ten different courses.

According to Franek, fitness is more than getting one’s body into magazine-like perfection. “In our society there’s more of a vanity approach to physical fitness rather than health,” Franek said. “I feel that to truly honor God, you must treat your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that requires a lot of effort from our students.”

Although Eastern offers a variety of Life Fitness options, such as “Fitness Through Hiking” and “Fitness Through Fencing,” Franek said he is always open to suggestions. But for those whose spare seconds go to playing Halo, you’re out of luck.

He sees Eastern’s Life Fitness courses integrating a broad spectrum of health education, including stress management. “As college students, you are a very stressed population and that really floods into every aspect of your life,” said Franek. “Our courses teach and give appropriate tools to handle and manage stress, in addition to providing an appropriate and positive outlet for stress through physical activity.”

Franek himself stays healthy and relatively stress-free through a variety of recreational sports including basketball, volleyball, hiking and “chasing [his] 14-month old son all over the place.” His fitness regime includes eating appropriate portions of food for an active adult, taking multi-vitamins and (listen up, college students) getting plenty of sleep.

And fitness was always on Franek’s radar. “I knew right out of high school that I would want to be involved in health and wellness, physical fitness and sports medicine,” said Franek. “Almost instantaneously I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I see the value of sports and physical fitness in all walks of life and I’ve seen the dangers in a sedentary lifestyle.”

Franek received his bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Slippery Rock University and his master’s in Athletic Training from Indiana State University. Holistic health is his passion, and Eastern is the community in which he plans to cultivate it.

“It has been a wonder fit,” Franek said. “The handshakes, kind words and smiles have made the transition what I’d hoped it would be. I am not looking to leave anytime soon.”

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