client: Kent Denver School Students | personal trainer: Laura Bordeaux, strength and conditioning coach, Kent Denver School location: Englewood, Colorado

A complete course load. Think of it as core curriculum—literally. The Kent Denver School, a college-preparatory institution outside of Denver, offers a comprehensive educational experience that emphasizes both academics and sports. That’s where Laura Bordeaux comes in.

“They don’t have a traditional PE program,” she explains. “Instead, they have a ‘sports requirement’ credit system. In order to pass, you must complete a certain number of credits both academically and athletically.”

As the school’s strength and conditioning coach, Bordeaux provides an alternative fitness program for students who struggle with team sports or are in an independent study program.

Making the grade. Bordeaux began by testing the waters. “We [wanted] to see what the response/need was, and the classes immediately filled to capacity with a waiting list,” she says.

The class became a refuge for students who had very little—if any—experience with structured exercise, as well as for athletes competing at a higher level outside of school.

“Either way, the majority of them are terrified and completely intimidated [when
they initially join the program],” says Bordeaux. “They tend to be freshmen or sophomores who have never stepped foot in our—much less any—weight room.” She quickly realized that her first lesson plan needed to focus on helping the wary students get comfortable in the gym.

Show-and-tell. “On the first day, we go over my objective for them [for] the 10
weeks we are together,” Bordeaux explains.

She also gives them a bit of her history, hoping that it will resonate with them. An avid athlete, she admits she was never taught how to train properly, and when she eventually “overdid it,” she had to relearn how to exercise, just to stay safe.

She adds, “I tell them that at some point in their life—maybe not in college, maybe not even in their 20s, but at some point—they will want to go to a gym. Whatever the personal reasons may be—stress, health, social, having a baby, stymying change in life—everyone should be able to walk into a gym/weight room with some foundation [and have] some knowledge of how the equipment works, how to create a well-rounded workout (not just sagittal-plane movements like bench press, biceps curls and situps), and [how to] execute that workout with proper form and confidence.”

Advanced studies. From there, Bor­deaux shares everything she knows about fitness. She covers functional fitness and multiplanar movements; the differences between cardio, weight training, and strength and conditioning workouts; the
importance of rehab and prehab; and more.

While she hopes that each of her students develops a lifelong love of fitness, she says, “I don’t expect to see all my students return to the weight room on their own and create this disciplined approach to working out on their own. This is the time to lay the foundation for healthy approaches to life, well-being and self-care so that when the time comes that they need to do it for themselves, they have something to draw from—a memory, a path, a resource.”

Extra credit. Bordeaux says the class has had a subtle, yet remarkable, effect on her students.

“There’s nothing I love more than seeing a girl come to the weight room; maybe she just beelines it to a piece of cardio equipment, but she’s in there.”

As a master trainer for TriggerPoint®, Bordeaux takes pleasure in seeing her students embrace foam rolling and myofascial release. “A favorite experience was seeing one of my freshman students show his older brother—a senior varsity-level player—how to roll out. That’s what matters; if they’re willing to pass something on
to their peers, you’ve made a difference.”

Coaching this class has also had an impact on Bordeaux and her career path.

“My whole perspective on what demographic I’d like to work with has changed,” she says. “Honestly, I’ve always felt more comfortable around athletes, because that’s what I know. But these kids are the ones [who] are overlooked and swept under the rug. And let’s face it: We are all afraid of the things we aren’t familiar with or good at, but putting yourself in a situation where you grow and learn is never a bad thing. I’m growing right along with every one of my students.”