Witness Fitness


Jessica Carter

I love feeling and being strong,” says Gigi Disidoro as she flexes on campus in between classes at SRJC.

Jessica Carter, Staff Writer

The alarm went off at 5 a.m. Tired, Gigi “Muscles” Disidoro got up and grabbed her bag to head to the gym for her early morning workout before sunrise.
Waking up in the morning to go to the gym may not sound appealing to some Santa Rosa Junior College students, but for others it’s part of maintaining a busy life of work, school and health. Incorporating fitness into daily life takes time and can be difficult depending on how many units students are taking and whether they are working full or part time.
Many want to start working out but feel it is impossible with their schedules. SRJC student and fitness enthusiast Disidoro works out whether it’s early in the morning or late at night.
Disidoro battled to reach her goal weight and achieve a life that incorporated fitness. She hated her body at times and had setbacks like “yo-yoing,” where she would lose weight only to gain it back. When she first started working out, the whole process intimidated her, especially lifting weights.
“I didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to look stupid,” Disidoro said.
She began to gain confidence in the gym with help from a friend. As he showed her proper form, she excelled and learned how to lift weights like a badass.
She recognizes that everyone starts somewhere, just like she did, and it’s difficult to find the starting point. This is why she aspires to become a certified trainer and earn her master’s degree in nutrition.
“To be honest, I just want to help educate people on healthy eating and the importance of working out,” she said.
Disidoro’s success is in part thanks to her friend. Networking and interacting with people who live this type of lifestyle is a motivator and great way to get started on the fitness path.
“The best thing is to always ask for help. People are willing to help get you started; you just have to be willing to do it,” she said.
Disidoro’s biggest tip for SRJC students is meal prepping, which is especially important for long days on campus.
“Always prep your meals the night before so you can grab and go and not stress about not eating or eating crappy food,” she said.
Her favorite meal prep? Sweet potatoes, green beans and chicken. She also keeps a planner to writes down her daily schedule and fits the gym into her day no matter what. She urges people to try new things and keep the body in motion even if it’s just walking a dog.
Browse through Pinterest for meal prep ideas that will make eating healthy fun. You can purchase meal prep bags from various sources, which include tons of storage for all your food plus ways to keep it cold. Don’t know where to heat up these meals? Check out the Bertolini Student Center Bear Cub Cafe, where an accessible microwave is available for students.
There are many perspectives to living a healthy, fit life. Working out isn’t the only thing. We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” To really understand what this means you must look into food a little deeper.
Jill Tarver, SRJC dietetic technology program coordinator and nutrition dietetic technology instructor, helps bring understanding to food and how to make it beneficial in the healthiest way.
Tarver teaches everything from nutrition 10 to sport’s nutrition. One class she teaches is clinical nutrition, which is how to feed people with different diseases, and community nutrition in the spring where students work with preschools, elementary schools, athletes and other community-based programs. Tarver’s students consist of nurses, athletes, kinesiology majors, students aspiring to become dietitians, radiology students and people who want to learn about nutrition.
Her classes offer a great opportunity to learn about what you put in your body and the effects. The healthier you eat, the better you feel.
She advises, “The more natural the better. People go for convenience because they think healthy has to be either hard, expensive or they don’t have time. It can be cheap and it doesn’t have to be hours of cooking.”
Tarver’s main focus is nutrition and food, but even she agrees, “I don’t see how nutrition and exercise don’t go together. Be active throughout your day. Move more.” She said even a short morning workout will make her feel better. She noticed at her gym she could hardly find parking at the beginning of the year, but now parking is a breeze because people do not often stick with the gym. She believes it’s a lifestyle, and even though it’s hard, an ongoing plan is key to success.
Don’t have time to hit the gym? Signing up for an early morning fitness class at SRJC will add to a student’s units, boost health and relieve major stresses like battling for a parking spot or studying for finals.
Benjamin Buechner, assistant baseball coach and adjunct kinesiology, athletics and dance instructor of SRJC, works out with President Dr. Frank Chong. With a jam-packed schedule and a pregnant wife, he still makes time to live a balanced, fit life.
“My dad started me on this journey,” he said.
Buechner’s father was a wrestling coach. He has kept active since he was young. Buechner’s style of incorporating fitness into his life is setting small obtainable goals and accomplishing them to stay motivated.
“Do not set a goal that you will cook yourself a nice healthy meal when you know you have a night class and will be getting home tired and late,” he said.
Setting frequent goals eventually becomes a lifestyle and daily habit if kept up. Buechner’s main piece of advice is to get a workout buddy that has goals similar to yours.
“Set times and dates to always meet and work out. It holds you accountable. You do not want to be that guy who texts your buddy you can’t make it today. I work out in the mornings with Dr. Chong, and I hate sending him a text that I can’t make it,” he said.
Buechner makes it sound easy, but admits it’s tough for him. He makes fitness a priority every day and sets himself up for success by having a realistic balance.
In need of a fitness buddy? Buechner and other KAD instructors offer a variety of classes each semester, like Buechner’s 7:30 a.m. body mechanics class. He will not only hold you accountable like a good buddy should, but gives guidance along the way to being fit.
If the gym or an SRJC fitness class does not seem doable, there are other options. Business major Miranda McClenter, 28, gets her fitness in at home. She watches workout videos that get her pumped up. McClenter moved into her own place and was working seven days a week, 13 hours a day to make ends meet. She ate fast food and stopped taking care of herself. Before she knew it, she had gained 30 pounds and knew she had to change her ways.
“I started working out at home because I felt that I did not have the time or motivation to get to a gym,” McClenter said. “I was also self-conscious that other people would judge my body and level of endurance.”
McClenter feels more comfortable at home where she can try new routines, relax and let go of her tension from the day. To her, the gym is too fast paced and makes her feel rushed. McClenter recognizes that at home she doesn’t have all the equipment a gym has or a hard surface large enough to do some workouts that she enjoys.
McClenter has worked out at a gym before and admits she tries harder at the gym because she is self-conscious that others are watching her, giving an extra push that she doesn’t always give herself at home. Nevertheless, she is happier working out at home at her own pace.
“Don’t overdo it. If you do too much on the first day or even the first week and exert yourself to the point of exhaustion and pain, you may not want to continue and give up. It’s OK to start slow,” she said.
Alicia Miller, 28, who graduated from SRJC in May 2015, decided to take a boot camp class on the Petaluma campus with a friend last semester. Her results are inarguable. She registered for a fitness class because being fit and healthy is important to her. She wanted to lose weight and get toned and did just that. Miller ended with a weight loss of 20 pounds and felt amazing. She recommends this class to any SRJC student and said, “To sign up for classes with a friend, it is easier to stay focused when you have a workout buddy.”
In the end, everyone is different: different body types, different fitness levels and different knowledge of the entire process. Whether you get a membership at a local gym, sign up for a SRJC fitness class, or get in some crunches in the comfort of your living room, you are your own advocate. There are tons of ways to start your journey or even finish it if you have gotten off track. Don’t let your New Year’s resolution slip away now. It’s only February.
As Disidoro arrives home from a long day of gym, school and work, she sets her alarm to do it again the next day.