Absolute Fitness campus representatives help community

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By Kaitlin Hoskins,News Editor

Every year a select number of local students are chosen for an ambassador program sponsored by Absolute Fitness Gym. The goal of students in program is broad but worthy – spread awareness for healthy lifestyle choices and personal wellness and to service their communities.

Absolute Fitness started the program several years ago, but this year, as in past years, the program has only continued to grow. Now, 38 students from various local high schools and colleges represent Absolute Fitness to their peers and families.

There is never a set number of students the committee selects. According to Teresa Taylor, marketing and public relations director for Absolute Fitness, it depends on how many “great applicants” the program has that year.

“We don’t ever choose a specific amount,” Taylor said. “We select those that we feel best suits our purpose and that fits the mold we want them to fit. So, we can have anywhere from 25 to 40 each year.”

There are usually about 100 applicants each year. Students who are already ambassadors for Absolute Fitness must reapply every year they are eligible.

The program is open for high school juniors and seniors, as well as first-year college students. To be in the running for selection, the students must apply between March and April, complete an interview in April and then begin their term in May.

During the interview process, prospective students are asked about their involvement in the community, their passions, their future goals, their thoughts on local events and more.

The students who are selected for the program then complete a year-long term, during which students work on gaining strengths in various skills like teamwork, communication, public speaking and community service. The representatives are asked to log their fitness journey on social media as part of their promotion duties. The students are encouraged to participate in the gym’s fitness classes and have open access to the gym during their term. In addition, they are eligible for being hired by the gym as positions become available.

“The biggest part of the students’ responsibilities is working within the community,” Taylor said. “We work with a lot of non-profits like United Way, Family Success Center, Never Surrender, Man Up Gadsden and others. Their job is to help with events or do whatever is needed. They do United Way’s Day of Action. They work the kid’s section of the Barbarian Challenge. They work a lot of the 5K runs and things like that. It’s all about servicing their community.”

Beyond their volunteer work, students spend time with local business owners and gain knowledge in how to work in various settings.

“We tell them how important it is to be on time and learn to manage your time,” Taylor said. “They learn about teamwork, and we do a lot of team building exercises. We really just try to prepare them for the adult world.”

Students who complete their terms in good standing receive college recommendation letters and glowing reviews for their resumes. According to Taylor, if the campus representatives participate in all of the yearly events, they can gain 50 volunteer hours per year, and that those hours of community involvement make a difference in scholarship applications.

The students involved in the program like what they do.

According to Kadyn Howell, a student at Jacksonville State University and a current Absolute Fit-ness Campus Representative, the program was a fun way to get involved.

“It gave me an opportunity to interact with my community and build relationships with my peers,” Howell said.

For Leon Chen, a student a Hokes Bluff High School and a current Absolute Fitness Campus Representative, the program was brought to his attention by his friends who had been representatives already.

“I already loved the gym and saw my friends talking about it,” Chen said. “It comes with a lot of perks, too.”

Dane Hawkins, a student at Jacksonville State University and a current Absolute Fitness Campus Representative, thought getting involved in his community was important.

“It was a good opportunity to get service hours,” Hawkins said. “But it was also a good way to represent my school and build connections in my community.”

Elizabeth Edge, a student at Jacksonville State University and a former Absolute Fitness Campus Representative, began her journey in the program three years ago and thought that building connections would help.

“Like Dane said, building connections in the community is important,” Edge said. “It was also a way to network and prepare for the business world. I’m majoring in marketing and knowing how to navigate that world is helpful.”

Emmy Cornelius, a student at Gadsden State Community College and former Absolute Fitness Campus Representative, said her favorite part of being involved with the program was working alongside community non-profits like Family Success Center.

“You get to work with all of these charities and non-profits,” Cornelius said. “It was great to be involved on that level. I’ve always loved that.”

The 2024-2025 campus representative team includes Adalyn Phillips at Southside High, Anna Lee at Hokes Bluff High, Anna Ponder at Glencoe High, Autumn Van Gilder at Snead State, Ben Cooper at Gadsden City High, Brayden David at Hokes Bluff High, Caleb Gallagher at Southside High, Cashus Hannah at Hokes Bluff High, Chloe Dodd at Hokes Bluff High, Corbin Driskell at Southside High, Dane Hawkins at Jacksonville State University, Dev Patel at Southside High, Elizabeth Alhajazin at Gadsden City High, Emily Ann Price at Gadsden City High, Emma Croy at Gadsden State Community College, Greenlee McBurnett at Jacksonville State University, Hayes Cosby at Southside High, Ian Shah at Westbrook Christian, Jace Harper at Jacksonville State University, Jackson Brown at Southside High, John Wyatt Jones at Southside High, Julianne Warren at Gadsden City High, Kadyn Howell at Jacksonville State University, Keaton Bean at Gadsden State Community College, Leon Chen at Hokes Bluff High, Luci Dauser at Hokes Bluff High, Macy Fortenberry at Southside High, Maegan Wheat at Gadsden State Community College, Pranjal Sharma at Southside High, Riley Ann Drenner at Glencoe High, Riley Thomas at Hokes Bluff High, Rhavena Pires at Jacksonville State University, Sadie Waldrop at Glencoe High, Sarah Jones at Gadsden City High, Sophia Jackson at Hokes Bluff High, Tanner Griggs at Southside High, Wilson Brown at Southside High, and Zoe Lockridge at Gadsden City High.

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