Q&A with Whitney Jones, Director of the Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Well-being
Elizabethtown College recently named Whitney Jones as Director of The Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Well-being. The Bowers Center, which will to open in the fall, will be a space for fitness and training, wellness programs, relaxation and other workshops and events. Student reporter Emma Knight sat down with Jones to get the scoop on how she plans to introduce the new facility to the E-town community.
Emma Knight: Tell me about your background.
Whitney Jones: One of my larger jobs was in grad school – I was a GA (graduate assistant) for the health and physical activity department at IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and I managed one of the fitness centers on campus. I really loved that job and got to interact with the members and do fitness programs and do the management aspect of it. After I graduated, I got a job at a small private school in North Carolina and I ran their intramural program and campus track department. So, I did on-campus events, off-campus trips, ran the intramural program, did group exercise classes, helped manage the fitness center – so pretty much a little bit of everything. I worked there for about two years, very far away from home, so then a job at the University of Pittsburgh came up in their campus rec. department, so I started working with their club sports teams. I kind of picked that program up and built that up from the ground. Then I was able to get a promotion where I managed all the fitness centers on campus – everything from the residence hall facilities to the main fitness centers, so it was about 15, 16 facilities that I managed.
EK: What are some of your favorite memories of playing sports when you were growing up?
WJ: Softball and volleyball were the two main sports I played growing up. Some of my favorite memories were our practices, especially with softball. They were spring sports, so everyone was completely over winter and excited to finally get outside and play. We were always able to get out of school a little early, carpool to the fields and blast music over the PA system while we were practicing. We had the best coach too, and he really made the practices fun, but also competitive!
EK: If you had to pick between softball and volleyball, what sport would you say was your favorite?
WJ: When I was in high school, softball was always my favorite sport. I grew up across the street from our town’s baseball complex, so I would always be at the fields practicing or playing. However, as I got older, volleyball became my favorite sport because it offered a great social and recreational environment, plus it’s a sport I can play all year long. It’s a great workout and stress reliever for me.
EK: Tell me about your family and pets.
WJ: I’m the middle child and have an older sister and younger brother (middle child syndrome is real!). I also have a fiancé, Austin. We’re getting married in November. We have two fur-babies, Lennox and Gibson, who we don’t (we really do) spoil at all!
EK: When you came to campus for the first time, what did you like most?
WJ: When I first visited campus, I liked the quaintness of the campus and the people most. The combination of those two factors made me feel very welcome. Everyone said hi to me and even held doors open for people. Also, I’m from the middle of nowhere and surrounded by trees and mountains, so even seeing the trees and greenery on campus was a comfort to me.
EK: What are some of your plans for the Bowers Center?
WJ: I have lots of plans for the center! I think one of the things I’m excited about most is the demonstration kitchen. I’m really excited to bring nutrition to the students, faculty and staff and run demos and how to cook healthy meals in your dorm, and how to meal prep and stay on track and plan ahead. I’m also excited about the new strength and conditioning position. I think that will add a lot of programming for our students and staff and allow them to do exercise programs that are tailored to their fitness levels and it’s more individualized rather than just going to the gym and not knowing what to do. Also, I’m very excited to increase the E-Fit classes, which are a series of classes dedicated to improving well-being and are offered at the College through a partnership with the E-Town Fitness Club and the Office of Student Activities. We’ll now be able to do spinning classes in the facilities, we’ve got more space that’s dedicated to these classes. I think that the new relaxation room is also going to be really nice because you’ll be able to do some counseling sessions over there, meditation – just a space for students to go decompress and get in line with that aspect of wellness.
Students don’t have to go to the Center just to work out but they can go in and sit in front of the fire and socialize, so it’s kind of a multi-faceted facility.
EK: How do you feel that the community will benefit from this overall?
WJ: There’s so much space to be able to do what they want, and it’s all in one centralized location. So, I think that’ll be beneficial to everyone, knowing they can just go to The Bowers Center and take care of their workout, take care of their nutrition, take care of their mental health, emotional health … I just think it’s kind of a one-stop shop for every area of wellness.
EK: So, you mentioned that you could have counseling sessions in the relaxation room – would that be in collaboration with Counseling Services or would it be something separate?
WJ: It will be in collaboration with the College’s Counseling Services. I think this building lends its hand to collaborating with a lot of different areas on campus, like the counseling center, just to get them out of that area. It spices things up a little bit, so it’s not like the same place that they’re used to so we can collaborate with them on a lot of different programs. Not even just sessions – it could be referral programs or meditation classes. We’ll also team up with Dining Services and do cool nutritional events or we can team up with Religious Life and host programs. So I think this building will be great to connect the community that way, too.
EK: Do you have any final thoughts or anything else you wanted to share?
WJ: I’m just very much looking forward to the building finally opening. It’s so exciting going in there every single week and seeing it transform. I’m just excited for everyone else to kind of take advantage of all the amenities that it has to offer!