Fitness fiend; Professor Mark Areson helps students shape up

Mark Areson supervises the Life Fitness Center on campus Dec. 7. Photo by Heather Roegiers.

JT Tack
Guest Writer


Imagine you’re taking a fitness class, and you’re brand new. You change into clothes and go to class — only you don’t have a backpack. Instead you have a workout bag, which contains an ID lanyard, a towel, fresh clothes to change into, as well as a bottle of water.

It’s your first time inside the North Gym. You look around cluelessly, because you need help. Thankfully, you bump into professor Mark Areson.

Areson teaches FITNS 371, a variable-unit (.5-1) course that students can enroll in to use the Life Fitness Center on campus. Enrollees can use the center — a complete gym — anytime it’s open, as long as they complete the required hours. Hundreds of students take the course each semester.

“I enjoy taking FITNS 371 because I feel comfortable when I exercise,” says Gloria Rodriguez. “It’s a judgment-free environment. You can work at your own pace while being motivated by instructors and students taking the course.”

Some of Areson’s best experiences, whether they’re coaching or teaching a course, are ones where he has helped students succeed and achieve their goals.

“I’ve had experiences where someone that was scrawny came into the gym and gained weight by the end of the semester, which was great to see,” says Areson. “I’ve also witnessed people looking to lose weight or lift heavier weights come in and achieve their goals, as well, and I’m blessed, thankful to have been able to work with them.”

Ever since he was a kid, Areson says he was fascinated with sports. He played football and wrestled in high school. Afterward, he went into real estate.

“When I got older and stopped playing football and wrestling, I coached a couple years with my old (high school football) coach, and I enjoyed it,” Areson explains. “I was 20 years old when I went into real estate, and one day I was driving by the park, and I saw my old football coach jogging in the park with his class. I had a suit and tie on and I realized that real estate wasn’t something I was interested in.”

He then went back to City College and majored in physical education. After that, he went on to coach high school wrestling, both high school and college football, and women’s college golf for 34 years. Twenty-three of those years were at City College.

“I was really passionate about coaching,” says Areson. “That was one of the main reasons why I decided to go back to school and major in physical education. A former coach said I had an opportunity to coach at City College, so that’s what I did.

“After I was done coaching football, I wanted to teach a course. But in order to do that I was told I needed to coach a team still, so I picked up and helped out in women’s golf.”

When comparing his job now to when he was selling real estate, he said that teaching and sharing knowledge is a noble profession, since it’s all about helping people. He also felt more comfortable helping others out, instead of trying to sell them something.

“If a student was ever on the fence about joining a fitness course or a sport at SCC, I would recommend doing it if they can, because every individual is in charge of their health,” says Areson. “The body is an incredible organism, and you only get one shot or lifetime to take care of it.”