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“Mean Irene” and Her Talented Trainees

Peace officers, youth athletes and “high-risk” college students make up a well-rounded spectrum of clients for Irene Lewis-McCormick.

SUBJECT: Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, CSCS
COMPANY: Fitness for Living, Ankeny, Iowa

Education and Injury Prevention. Irene Lewis-McCormick works with a variety of clients who look to her for guidance, expertise and education. Many of them are already exercising or have experience with exercise, but have hit plateaus and are armed with obsolete information. Her current crop of youth athletes is one such group. “These clients are being confronted with outdated and often unsafe training recommendations from parents, coaches or others,” she says. Lewis-McCormick does her best to educate her young clients and their parents regarding the benefits of proper lifting technique for injury prevention and sport-oriented success. Another special population Lewis-McCormick works with is pre- and postnatal women. She facilitates the Sara’s City Workout specialty certificate, “Moms in Motion,” working with fitness colleagues to develop safe and appropriate programming for their clients.

Keeping the Peace. Through her work as recreation and wellness coordinator at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Lewis-McCormick began training current and potential peace officers. The college offers criminal justice associate degrees, and many students find their way to the recreation center in search of enhancing their physical fitness in order to pass physical testing requirements for employment. “These clients are unique because their physical training will dictate their potential employment success. [They] need very specific skills and training. Their lives literally depend on it,” she emphasizes.

Intervention ASAP. According to Lewis-McCormick, research has indicated that the next “high-risk” population to require the attention of fitness and wellness professionals is 19- to 30-year-olds. Determining factors include the demographic’s smoking habits, drug use, high-risk sexual activity, poor nutritional choices and increased risk for diseases such as hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease and depression. As a result, the Ankeny Substance Abuse Project (ASAP) was allocated grant money to intervene with this group and has targeted DMACC as part of the ASAP mission. “My role includes acting as a liaison between DMACC and ASAP and also as a consultant on the development of their online health risk assessment,” she says.

Functional Fitness Factory. Through a client referral, Irene came to be a consultant for Ball Corporation, makers of metal and plastic packaging, where she helps create exercise programs based on employees’ job requirements. “Through plant tours and meetings with supervisors, human resource staff and team leaders, a flexibility protocol was created and is being implemented throughout the plant,” she says. “Team supervisors lead employees on each shift through a series of stretches appropriate for each one of their respective assembly-line positions.”

“Mean Irene.” Lewis-McCormick is a master motivator who seeks to help her clients push themselves past fears of inadequacy. “I love being able to help my clients see the changes they are making,” she says. “I am so glad when recruit officers pass the physical testing, allowing them to take the law enforcement process to the next level, because of a role that I played in their preparation.” She also is proud of being able to subtly work clients past a plateau without their realizing it’s happening. “They express astonishment at what they accomplish, and it always satisfies me that they are delighted to know they have that potential,” she shares. Such potential likely carries over into other aspects of life, such as job performance and general well-being. Her clients’ accomplishments are sometimes accompanied by a bit of good-natured ribbing of their trainer. “I think the current nickname they mumble under their breath is ‘Mean Irene,’ but I think it is said in good humor.”

Ryan Halvorson is the editorial assistant for IDEA and a certified personal trainer.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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