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CCU Atheneum: Zan Wiggins tries his hand at free weights.
Zan Wiggins tries his hand at free weights.

Chantfit, CCU’s new fitness initiative, is a winner

by Derrick Bracey
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Coastal Carolina University’s new fitness initiative, Chantfit, is drawing to a close on March 8, and everyone involved with the program is calling it a success. With the recent transition into the new gym in the HTC Center, Tara Josey, CCU’s associate director of campus recreation, says, “New facility, new program. We wanted to target people who weren’t already going to a gym or were intimidated by gyms. We wanted to give people a safe place to come, learn and feel confident enough to keep coming.”

Chantfit was a six-week health and fitness challenge with three options – be healthier, lose weight or get stronger. The $20 program allowed participants to choose one of those options or go for all three.

CCU’s campus recreation staff is a spirited bunch that attacked this initiative, rolling with the punches that change throws and treating each guest to the gym with an individual respect. This determination is obvious when staff member/student Robert Morgan opens his mouth. “I postponed graduating to do this,” he says. “It’s the best gym in the area, and I’m literally here from sunup until sundown. This is what I do, and I love what I do.”

Morgan, who wants to become a physical trainer who trains other physical trainers, is able to get plenty of practice in the HTC Center’s Chantfit program. He currently trains 10 clients and teaches 18 fitness classes a week, while working toward becoming a certified strength and conditioning specialist. Chantfit rolled out in January, and participation was capped at 100.

“It filled up quickly,” says Josey, who has worked in campus recreation for the last 15 years. “We had 20 faculty and staff and 80 students sign up. We wanted to keep the number manageable for our trainers.”

The six weeks are filled with classes and one-on-one sessions to help recruits reach their goals. Classes range from Zumba to high-impact resistance training, from kickboxing to yoga. Participants do pre- and post-fitness assessments and keep a weekly workout tracker. The attendance of the program did drop a bit, but many stayed with it. “Many come into the new year all gung-ho with resolutions, but sometimes these routines don’t make it into their schedules,” Josey says. “That’s OK, as long as they keep trying.”

Morgan says the staff has learned to fit the program and the training to the individuals. “Personalities have to mesh. Everyone who has stayed with the program has seen positive results. It’s all about the commitment level. With the right training, mentality, diet and goals, anything is possible.” And for those out there with restrictions, disabilities or particular distastes for certain types of exercise, he adds, “Unless you hate all movement, I can find a way to train you and be successful.”

The program started on Jan. 28, and it’s coming to an end, but health and fitness doesn’t end with the Chantfit program. The gym is free for students, faculty and staff of CCU. Classes and personal trainers are offered year-round (though they cut back in the summer). The classes are free and the sessions with the personal trainers are really inexpensive. And new programs like Chantfit will start up again in the fall. So, there’s really no excuse to not get out there. “Just remember, in fitness, there’s no competition. You compare yourself to yourself,” Morgan says. “It’s about finding your limits, de-stressing, getting your heartbeat up and getting healthy.”

The world of fitness has changed from the feel-the-burn mentality. “As a personal trainer, you have to realize everyone is different,” Morgan says. “You find out how far you can push them and how far they want to push themselves. We set accomplishable goals, difficult but attainable. You just have to come in with the ability to follow through. I can train you to maintain high levels of intensity. I can also make you sweat and love it in three minutes.”

Enter Ben King, a 30-year-old senior from Waldorf, Md. He’s in CCU’s PGM program and is heading to California in May for an internship at Pebble Beach. He signed up for Chantfit, and Morgan took him on as a trainee. “I just want to be healthier,” King says.

King admits that, at first, the sessions can be grueling. Dedication to making yourself healthier has to be a persistent goal. “My first session with Bob, I threw up.” But King says he didn’t give up. “I got some water, came back and finished.”

After two weeks of training with Morgan, King lost 10 pounds. After four weeks, he has dropped 14 pounds total. “The weight is leveling off, but I can feel myself getting stronger. I’m losing fat and gaining muscle,” he says. “The scale isn’t changing, but I am.”

King is more than a proponent of Chantfit – he’s proof that with commitment a program like this works. He’s one of the many flocking to the new fitness facilities. “The gym atmosphere motivates you. If it had been here the whole time I was, I would’ve been here every day.” King says it’s more than just weight loss. “I have more energy. I’m in a better mood. I don’t need as much coffee or energy drinks. I’m eating better because I don’t want to waste my time fighting to work it off.”

Judy Cannon, an administrative specialist in the Department of Media Services, signed up for Chantfit’s health track but switched along the course. “The program got me out lifting weights and working on strength training,” she says. “It showed me things that I can do with weights, my body, TRX (resistance and suspension training) ropes and the safe way to use them.”

Chris Todd, a lecturer/studio technician in the Department of Visual Arts, is no novice to fitness programs. She participated in the Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge at Fitness Edge and ended up winning. She looked at the ChantFit strength track as an “inexpensive way to try some weight training in a group setting.” Taking full advantage of the program, she alternated between the strenuous strength track and the less extreme weight loss track when her schedule permitted.

“I learned new ways to push my strength routine in both classes. I was introduced to TRX training and shown different ways to work out with weights and bands,” Todd says. “The student trainers were very professional and did a great job. I come away from the classes realizing I have good form and can trust my techniques and intuition more than I did before, and I can continue on my own.”

Todd has become motivated in establishing a healthy lifestyle. She wants to learn a routine from a trainer and come back to that trainer for a “shake-up session” to establish her next routine. And Chantfit was able to help people from one end of the health spectrum to the other. “I felt like the $20 was well spent, not to mention we received a T-shirt,” Todd says. “I think it was useful for everyone who participated.”

Josey sees the new gym with its new programs and classes bringing droves of people in, even though the gym is only open to faculty, staff and students. “At peak hours, we are packed. We want to continue to have enough space for everyone.” And the programs and classes will continue to grow as their trainers learn and adapt to the new levels of attendance. “I’m most excited about building my student trainers. It’s great to see their development and watch them rise to meet the challenge,” she says.

Morgan judges his success and the success of the program by the number of participants who stay committed to fitness, on any level. “It’s all about encouragement and challenging people, putting the appropriate resistance to the perceived exertion,” he says. “People need the push and the accountability. But it means everything to me to see my clients challenge themselves and succeed.”

According to Josey, there’s only one issue to consider. “Feeling good is what really matters. It’s the most important thing.”

For more information on fitness classes or personal training sessions, call 843-349-2802 or visit for classes and for personal trainers.


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