JasperFit Personal Training Program Provides Guidance in the Fitness Center

The JasperFit personal training program is a growing option for members of the Manhattan College community looking for a boost to their workout program.

Open to students, faculty, administration, staff, and even alumni who may hold gym memberships to the Kelly Commons Fitness Center, the program features student certified personal trainers who can offer professional expertise in the gym.

“The goal of our program is to really provide some guidance and motivation to the Manhattan College community to get healthy and get fit,” Chris Policastro, director of the fitness center, said.

Whether it is weight loss, strength training, or simply to look and feel better, the aspirations of previous participants in the program have varied. A personal trainer may be an appealing option especially for those who are hesitant to head to the gym due to lack of knowledge or previous failures in maintaining a routine workout plan.

“Having a set time to actually have to meet with someone is definitely better than trying to do it on your own, especially if you’ve struggled to keep a schedule in the past,” Policastro said.

“That and obviously the motivational piece—having someone there pushing you, it creates a social support network—to have someone you can reach out to, even on non-training days to keep up with how things are going.”

Personal Training - Photo Courtesy of Chris Policastro

All of the students who work as JasperFit personal trainers are certified by either the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Obtaining the Certified Personal Training credential is a perquisite to getting the job.

However, Policastro works with students who may be interested in coming on-board as trainers, often holding workshops and educating them on how to receive one of the certifications.

Currently, he has four personal trainers on staff for the program that began a year ago and is looking to add more as interest increases. A majority of those trainers are students in the college’s kinesiology department and therefore benefit directly from the relevant work experience beyond the classroom.

JasperFit personal trainer Braily Bernaber also has a dual role in serving as the graduate assistant for the college’s fitness center.

Assisting clients with their workouts provides him an opportunity to work directly with people and see different perspectives in fitness.

“The first thing you need to know is that everyone is different. You get to know them a little better in each session that you train them,” Bernaber said.

“Once you get to known them a little more, you got a connection not only in the fitness aspect but also in the emotional aspect—a body and mind connection.”

In order to help the trainers forge this connection with their clients, each personal training package includes a free consultation and assessment that consists of biometric screenings and strength, cardio and flexibility tests.

The assessment allows the trainer and client to set individual goals for the program and tailor exercises to meet those needs.


Choosing realistic objectives can sometimes be one of the hardest tasks for trainers to accomplish with their clients.   

“A lot of times people don’t know how much effort is required to achieve their goal. And we’re not here to do quick fixes—we’re trying to teach healthy lifestyles,” Policastro said. “We want to set people up for their life. That can take some time for clients to grasp that concept.”

Each one-on-one session with a personal trainer lasts an hour long and is scheduled for a time mutually agreeable to the client and trainer. A full list of packages is available on the Fitness Center’s website and ranges from three sessions for a total of $63 to 20 sessions for $340.

According to Pollicastro these costs are competitive and set with student budgets in mind. Many private sessions with personal trainers at other gyms can easily be in excess of $100 for just one session.

For Kevin Gschwend, the college’s assistant director of study abroad, working with JasperFit personal trainer Yusuf Mons paid off.

“Yusuf was really great. I had a wonderful experience overall. He really made an effort to give me a program that would help me build strength while at the same time taking my previous injuries into consideration,” Gschwend said.

“I feel stronger and my pain level has gone down, which is a big deal for me. Yusuf is very professional and was flexible when it came to scheduling. Overall, just a great trainer and friendly person, I would definitely recommend him to anyone.”