Stephanie Wiegel, biology major from Illinois City, Ill., instructs Black Hills State University faculty and staff during a recent yoga class at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center.
Black Hills State University student Stephanie Wiegel took it upon herself to offer a month-long yoga course at the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center hoping to get more faculty, staff and students to share her love of yoga and add to her professional portfolio.

“One of the greatest things about yoga is the discipline I am able to take away from my practice and apply it to everyday life. Yoga will enhance your mind-body connection,” said Wiegel, biology major from Illinois City, Ill. Wiegel’s yoga class is one of many ways students are gaining real-world experience through the Young Center.

For nearly a decade, BHSU students have participated in an upper-level class during which they provide personal training for University faculty and staff. The service learning class gives students the opportunity to get experience training different age groups and not just their peers.

“We try to focus on special populations, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bad backs, knees, shoulders, etc.,” said Rob Schurrer, professor of exercise science. “The main goal is to try to get these faculty and staff members to the gym at least three times a week. It is a lot of commitment by both the students and participants. The students have an opportunity to learn application of theory.“

The clients meet with the student personal trainers two times a week and commit to going to the gym one other time each week.

“The majority of my students in this class are either varsity athletes with one of our sports teams, or they train 3-10 hours each week.  It is important for these students to learn that the adult clients are not them; other people have different needs, and it is important to be client focused.  The student learns to be responsible, act professionally and be accountable,” Schurrer said.

The class Wiegel teaches is one hour and the participants learn breathing techniques as they go through the ranges and motions of yoga moves. Yoga provides a workout with a meditative aspect included, she said.

“Yoga teaches you a philosophical form of exercise,” said Bob DiBonto, fitness director at the Young Center.

Wiegel has been doing yoga for four years and instructs friends during her free time. She plans to get certified to teach yoga after graduation.

“It is daunting that I have never taught an actual yoga class before and most of the people in the class are faculty, and a lot of my professors, but I am excited to be able to teach something that I love so much,” Wiegel said.

Wiegel’s class at BHSU filled up in two days; the yoga class last year had a waiting list. This is something that the people here at BHSU want to do, said DiBonto.

Experiential learning such as the opportunities for BHSU students at the Young Center happens beyond the classroom when students use intellectual skills requiring adaptability, sophisticated knowledge, problem-solving capacities, and commitment to life-long learning in an authentic experience that contributes to making a positive difference in a real life situation.