Long before starting his professional career at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Nick Beltz, assistant professor of kinesiology, was already part of the Blugold family.
Beltz, a former linebacker with the Blugold football team, graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2010 with a kinesiology degree.
From the sidelines to the classroom, Beltz teaches future Blugold health professionals the disciplines of exercise physiology and exercise science, which focus on the effects of exercise on the human body’s systems, tissues and cells.
“As future clinicians, we work with a lot of people. Developing those interpersonal skills is something that the students get here at UW-Eau Claire that I think once they are done, they really realize how well the kinesiology program prepared them for their professional lives,” Beltz says.
The Blugold alumnus speaks from experience. In 2010, as a UW-Eau Claire student, Beltz, along with his peers and Dr. Jeff Janot, chair of the kinesiology department, conducted research to study the effects of exercise sequence on energy expenditure for greater weight loss. The study was published in 2014 in the Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research.
Another transformative experience for Beltz included traveling to Barcelona, Spain, as a member of the Blugold football team and completing a 400-hour cross-disciplinary internship in strength and conditioning as well as physical therapy.
“The kinesiology program opened doors that have allowed me to pursue my professional goals,” which, he says, fueled his passion to pursue his master’s and doctoral degrees in exercise physiology.
In addition to lectures, Beltz says it’s important to help students practice what they learn through UW-Eau Claire’s community outreach programs. Those programs include cancer recovery, community fitness classes, home-school physical education, K-5 before-school exercise programs and private fitness sessions dedicated to serving individuals with cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities.
“We’re working with individuals with disabilities who have various chronic diseases. These are programs where the students are working with individuals with the goal of developing their own clinical, practical and interpersonal skills. Those aren’t experiences you would get anywhere else,” Beltz says.
While much of campus has changed since his time as a student, one thing remains consistent within the kinesiology program: the opportunity to conduct clinical research using advanced lab equipment while gaining meaningful research experience. That can’t be found elsewhere, he says.
“It’s very special now. I knew it was special then (during my college years) because of all of the unique high-impact experiences, but now, it’s even more clear how well this sets up students to achieve their professional goals.”
Watch the Blugold Spotlight video above!