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Leading Through Fitness

UMD student Maddy Johnson in a gym room
March 20, 2019

Maddy Johnson has immersed herself at UMD and in the community to promote health and wellness. 

Maddy’s fitness journey has given her many meaningful connections, life lessons, and self confidence.

In high school, Maddy knew she wanted to do something related to fitness in college. She took part in many sports and wanted to continue her active lifestyle. 

Now Maddy is a senior majoring in exercise science in UMD's College of Education and Human Service Professions. Two years ago, Maddy started teaching group fitness classes through the Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP).

She began teaching when a friend convinced her, saying, “hey, we should try and do this because it would be an awesome job, and it would look great on our resumes!” Maddy was nervous at first to try her hand at teaching group fitness, but after some time she felt more comfortable in her abilities. Her positive attitude, charisma, and excitement for spreading her knowledge has made a great impact in the community. 

To challenge herself further, Maddy decided to become a kickboxing instructor at 9Round. From her experience through RSOP as a group fitness instructor, she felt ready to challenge her knowledge of teaching. “I wanted to try something that is 130% different,” she says.

What Maddy noticed the most was the difference from teaching large groups, to working hands-on with individual clients at the kickboxing studio. She enjoys the vulnerability and personable connections that the gym offers from working with individual clients. A difference that Maddy noticed when working with college age students versus older adults is that mobility becomes limited as we get older. She mentions, “you really take for granted how flexible and in shape you are when you’re young!”

“My purpose is to be a teacher and a coach through instructing and helping others get better through fitness,” Maddy states. She finds that her personal growth and confidence gains momentum as she helps clients and students throughout the week.

Something Maddy's learned while being an exercise science major is that “there’s so much more that you can do besides physical therapy.” Going into college, Maddy thought that she would go into PT, but later discovered that her opportunities were greater than she assumed.

Maintaining health and wellness is important for Maddy. Her biggest tip that she tells people all the time when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is, “to not count calories.” She explains, “it can be a huge rabbit hole that people can fall into.”

Maddy believes that it’s healthy to indulge every now and then without feeling bad and that everything is good in moderation. For her, size doesn’t matter and the most important thing is to make sure “you feel healthy internally.”

Maddy’s fitness journey as an instructor and in her personal life has given her many meaningful connections, life lessons, and self confidence.

Learn more about UMD's Department of Applied Human Sciences.