The JasperFit Mentor Program: A Program That Makes Fitness Fun

By, Josh Grewal, Assistant Social Media Editor

The JasperFit Mentor Program is a program where kinesiology students serve as mentors to help the Manhattan College student population adopt, increase and/or maintain leisure-time physical activity. 

Originally created in 2019, the program seems to advocate the benefits of physical activity and how it can help an individual person as well as the overall community. Many of the mentors that are a part of the program are able to carry this motivation with them because of how motivated they are by the mission itself.

Jeff Cherubini, the faculty advisor for the JasperFit Mentor Program and many similar programs, enthusiastically explained in an email to The Quadrangle the depths of what the program entails. 

“The Department of Kinesiology is always exploring new opportunities for our students to develop professionally while simultaneously providing a service to our community – be it on or off campus,” Cherubini wrote. “Through the promotion and support of campus-wide physical activity, we are able to potentially enhance the health and wellness for students across all majors, these are the mentees, and the professional development of our kinesiology students, the mentors.”

He spoke about how the program started, and the process that it required in order to be what it is today. Without a doubt, you can see clearly how the program is rooted in positivity from the very beginning.

“In 2019, I first introduced the idea of a mentorship program to my students in KIN 304 Kinesiology & Public Health,” Cherubini wrote. “I can’t take credit for the original idea. An alumni, who had just taken KIN 304 Kinesiology & Public Health the year prior, had attended an Exercise & Sport Psychology conference and learned about a similar program at Humboldt State University. This program, called the WellFit Program, had kinesiology majors serve as physical activity buddies for individuals referred from Health and Counseling Services who had been diagnosed with clinical depression and/or anxiety. We immediately thought a similar idea of Kinesiology Buddies would work great here at Manhattan College; but rather than offering to those referenced from Health Services, we would offer to any student interested in being a little more physically active.” 

Dr. Cherubini’s focus has always been on the students and how it would affect them. He constantly spoke about how the students were his top priority, and that every decision made would be in their best interest.

“For those students participating as mentees, I see numerous opportunities to receive tangible and practical social support from their peers to initiate, increase or maintain physical activity and other positive wellness-based behaviors,” Cherubini wrote. “For the mentors, I see opportunities to develop and demonstrate both positive personal character traits such as empathy, compassion and respect; as well as positive performance character traits such as reliability, accountability, and adaptability. All valued and very much needed as future trainers, teachers and therapists.”

Zack Olivan, the director of the program, shared many flyers and posters containing more information about the program, and how people could get involved in the future. 

“The JasperFit Mentor Program originated in the form of personal training many years ago, but today, the program serves as a student-led peer mentorship program that facilitates positive communication and community development,” Olivan wrote in an email to The Quadrangle. “One thing we are currently working on as a program is getting students and college faculty certified through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in order to be able to prescribe exercise. As of now, the program is strictly mentorship focused, with the goals of connecting students together to facilitate positive and healthy lifestyles throughout the community.”

Ryan Tierney, a mentor in the program, explained what it’s like to work with students and improve their health habits.

“Being in a mentor-type role feels like the middle ground between the coach and a friend,” Tierney wrote in an email to the Quadrangle. “As a mentor, you have the experience to give good advice and lead your mentee down the right path, but your role as a professional doesn’t reach further than a student acquaintance. You are able to meet new people and become friends with them while also utilizing what you study to assist them in achieving the goals they set for themselves.”

Tierney also explained how this program will continue to affect students at the college, specifically noting how inclusivity in exercise can change lives.“I believe that this program can provide a massively positive impact on the campus as a whole,” Tierney wrote. “The more people that sign up to be mentees/mentors, the more connected the campus might become. We have people signing up from different majors that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. This program opens up the opportunity to meet new people in the name of physical activity. We specifically encourage beginners who are thinking about starting to be more active, but we also won’t turn away those who are experienced and want someone to check in on them. This program is highly inclusive and has the capacity to bring Manhattan College students closer.”