rainer guides students to wellness

by Mickie Barg

Hiring a personal trainer usually isn’t in a University student’s budget, but a new Boynton Health Service program gives students the advice of a world-renowned exercise specialist.
Now when Dan Halvorsen isn’t working with professional tennis stars Pete Sampras and Monica Seles, he’s waiting in Boynton’s sports medicine office to specify a workout regimen for any student, staff or faculty member who wants it.
After five years of planning, the pilot program launched Wednesday and appointments have been booked solid ever since.
Halvorsen sits down with patients and examines body fat, endurance, energy level, muscle strength and flexibility. He then works out a fitness routine and nutrition program that fits into each patient’s schedule.
Eventually heart-rate and oxygen-monitoring equipment will be available for fitness measurements.
“We don’t have the equipment for testing set up here yet,” Halvorsen said. “Normally, we set up a full exercise program and have personal trainers demonstrate it.”
Boynton’s community program specialist David Golden says the program attacks inactivity by prescribing physical activity — a panacea for all kinds of potential health problems: obesity, depression, cholesterol and diabetes.
“With this program people can lose weight and gain strength,” Golden said. “And visits for the exercise physiologist are covered under the Student Services Fee.”
So, not only do students receive world-class advice, but it’s free.
Although new to Boynton, Halvorsen, who teaches in the kinesiology and leisure studies department, has been training professional and student athletes for 25 years.
Halvorsen recently helped train the U.S. Olympic tennis team and the Phoenix Coyotes professional hockey team. He also works with local professionals who play for the Wild and the Twins.
“We do a lot of work with the players for the Minnesota Twins, looking at their upper-body strength and things they could improve,” Halvorsen said.
Sam Steidl, a University sophomore outfielder on the Gophers baseball team, said he wasn’t aware there was a place on campus to get a personalized workout program. Halvorsen spent a few minutes Wednesday afternoon showing Steidl what the program was all about.
“I can help anybody, not just at the sports level,” Halvorsen said. “I can help them with anything they can do to reach their goal for a wedding or class reunion or even to get on an Olympic team.”
For now, patients bring in training statistics, for example batting average or daily walking distance. They then track progress during follow-up visits every two weeks.
“Some people need to come back for motivation and others can come in once and I never see them again,” Halvorsen said.
He said any student who is tired all the time has a fitness deficit that no amount of coffee can help.
“Americans are tired of being overweight, sedentary and tired,” Halvorsen said. “Everyone is out buying coffee and herbs and the solution is very simple — get in shape.
“Everyone at the University is so interested in health and fitness but there has been no one at Boynton to deal with health and physiology,” he said.
“(Halvorsen) will be a great addition as an exercise and stress management tool,” said massage therapist Guy Odishaw. “Dan will be handling the science end of it which is much different than what I do.”

Mickie Barg covers the Medical School and welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3223. She can also be reached at [email protected]