Fitness center finds new muscle

An energetic man stands next to tall beams of metal and weights while three women lacrosse players watch him attentively. He steps into the device and lifts the weights with ease while directing the athletes how to appropriately move their bodies.

Don’t be surprised if you see this man next time you visit the Castleton State College Fitness Center. Al Jean, the new strength training and conditioning coach for Castleton, is already making a strong impression on athletes and students.

Jean is University of Vermont alumnus, originally from Lowell, Mass., who has a deep interest in helping people train. His job requires him to train and condition Fitness Center members and athletes while maintaining all the equipment and keeping things in order and functioning.

For the past 20 years, he has worked on campuses in eight different states, from Jacksonville, Fla. to Baltimore, Md. He is now working with the Spartan soccer, lacrosse and ice hockey teams.

“I hope to eventually work with every team,” said Jean. “Not only in-season sports, but sports that just finished the fall season.”

Jean also said training women athletes is especially important on his agenda. He believes that men athletes have received more attention then women and hopes to change that.

“I wish I played while he was here” said Rachel Dunn, a co-worker of Jean and former ice hockey player who recently blew out her knee. “He’s doing a really great job working with all the athletes.”

When Jean is not training athletes, he is keeping the Fitness Center in line. Lately, he said he’s been keeping a closer eye on non-members using the gym, and making sure workers are being accountable.

He has his student workers, who work with the Fitness Center, doing a usage study to see how frequently members are using the facilities. Currently, about 400 to 500 members show up each day.

When entering the Fitness Center, you will probably see Jean hovering around heavy equipment coaching eager muscle-building athletes or maybe outside drilling the soccer team as they strives for their next suicide sprint.

“He encourages us to push ourselves,” said soccer player Jaime Moore. “He never talks to us negatively.”

In his spare time, Jean said he enjoys hiking, cycling, outdoor activities, but most of all training. But he said he really loves his job.

“The best part is watching people grow,” said Jean.

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