Dan Aeschliman is a graduate student at UConn studying physical therapy. He is an instructor with the UConn BodyWise program with a passion for fitness that inspires and motivates students to push their selves physically like never before. Check out what makes Dan such a dynamite instructor:
SV: Dan, you are about to head to Alaska to finish your Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from UConn! How did you reach this point in your academic career?
DA: I am originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. I went to the University of California Davis where I studied human development. It was focused on the broad scope of development in the biological, psychological, and sociological perspectives. Human development allowed me to see the different capacities I could work with people, which was something I knew I definitely wanted to do.
I had been involved with gymnastics from a young age (SV: we joked about his old dreams of the Olympics), and coached part time during my undergraduate career. Once I finished school, they asked me to come on full time where I was a boy’s program director for a local gym. I decided to pursue my Doctorate in Physical Therapy because I wanted to be part of a health field that captured the same qualities I loved about coaching. I enjoy being a motivator, developing goals, tracking progress, being on my feet, and educating others. Those aspects of coaching transferred seamlessly into physical therapy (and incidentally, into the world of fitness). Investing my time and energy into a doctorate level physical therapy program would only enhance my understanding of and impact on the fitness world.
SV: In your BodyWise class I am constantly challenged past what I thought I was physically capable of. Your education and love of fitness is highlighted in the workouts you create for BodyWise. What classes do you teach and how did you get involved in the program?
DA: I came to UConn in the Summer of 2014 and had participated in BodyWise classes daily. When fall began to approach, there were auditions for new instructors and I decided to try out! I love being involved with BodyWise because I get to give back to a program that is a great student resource. I was able to utilize this program as a participant and as an instructor, which allows me to really appreciate all it has to offer.
SV: What advise do you have for someone who’s new to fitness and wanting to try BodyWise classes?
DA: Fitness is a journey. You have to want to stick with it, because it can take weeks or months to establish a base. It’s a huge adjustment- physically, socially, and academically- you have to want to make it fit into your life. The best way to set a strong base is to start gradually. Fitness is for your wellness throughout your mind, body, and spirit. Set your own goals, meet your own standards, and don’t compare yourself to others! Comparing yourself can be so discouraging so acknowledging that fitness is for yourself is an important component.
BodyWise is a great way to get started or continue your fitness journey. There are a wide range of classes with so many different incredible instructors. At the beginning of the semester I challenged my students to “Commit, Courage, and Conquer.” You should commit to at least one class. Make it a part of your schedule, and try to attend it always. Once you’ve shopped around and found the best fit, have the courage to believe in your abilities. Come out and step up to each challenge during your class. Conquer it by giving your 110% every week for the full semester. If you are a new to fitness, the instructors are capable of modifying the workout to meet every fitness level. That is why BodyWise is so great- you can come no matter your level of ability.
SV: As you are about to embark on a new part of your journey, what are your fitness and academic goals, and what kind of impact do you hope to leave with BodyWise?
DA: I hope as I finish my doctorate program at UConn I am able to create a life and a persona of holistic wellness. I want to be able to educate my patients and self through physical therapy, fitness, nutrition, and education.
Fitness has always been a part of my life. I look at it as an everyday aspect that allows me to sharpen my health mentally and physically. I hope to continue to follow my goals and continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
For BodyWise, we have a mentor program that I really enjoyed being involved with. Every new instructor gets paired with an instructor who has been around for a few semesters. It is really fun because I had a mentor when I was rookie, and I wanted to be able to provide feedback as a mentor for a rookie. I hope my impact is that I inspired instructors continue to think outside the box. I hope that the program keeps continues to encourage instructors to creating new routines, and fosters an environment where instructors push their selves to be the best they possibly can. On the student side, I hope that the program allows for participants to be excited about fitness and encourages them to talk about the classes outside of BodyWise. We want to create classes and atmospheres that make the students want to come back!
Check out Dan’s Thursday HIIT class at 8:00PM to see him in action and feel the energy. I know the class and myself will be sad to see him leave after this semester, but we wish him the very best.
Sign up for classes here.
All photos courtesy of Dan Aeschliman