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Iron Eagles program leads students to new levels of personal strength

The Iron Eagles program at Oklahoma Christian University is empowering students to be more confident in a gym setting by teaching proper techniques and exercises in weightlifting.

Iron Eagles is an eight-week weightlifting program at Oklahoma Christian designed to help students achieve their fitness goals. Senior Rose Schaefer said she wanted to join the program to gain a sense of self-assurance about working out.

“I have always wanted to be the sort of person who works out regularly, but I am not a fan of running,” Schaefer said. “Lifting appealed to me, but I hadn’t had the training to do so with confidence. So, I was excited by the opportunity to get professional guidance in a familiar setting.”

Schaefer said she has reached the personal goals she initially set for herself and has noticed progress since beginning the program.

“I wanted to get more comfortable in the gym and to tone up a little — both of which I achieved,” Schaefer said. “The weight I could lift increased throughout the program. However, I have also noticed increased muscle tone in my upper arms and legs, and other people have commented on it too.”

Fellow senior Kristen Wheeler said since participating in Iron Eagles, working out now gives her a new sense of security.

“I have more self-confidence now,” Wheeler said. “I had not stepped foot in the Dub before because I was afraid to look stupid. But now I know what I’m doing and I’m okay being the only girl in the gym.”

Wheeler said along with feeling more relaxed in the gym, she also wants the workout habits she developed this semester to follow her after graduation.

“The most rewarding part of the program is knowing what I’m doing in the gym,” Wheeler said. “I can sign up for a gym membership now and have a workout in mind. I won’t have to spend the money on a personal trainer just to figure out what is going on.”

Senior Marina Pendleton said one of her biggest struggles throughout the program was perfecting her form in various weightlifting exercises.

“The hardest part of the class was learning the correct form for overhead press and deadlift,” Pendleton said. “There were so many small movements to remember all at once. However, Coach Mike focused on just four lifts for the entire eight weeks — overhead press, deadlift, squat and bench. So by the end of class, we all learned good form. Getting comfortable in the gym is a big one. I guess it’s not just for ripped dudes after all. I learned good habits to keep practicing wherever I go after graduation.”

Pendleton said the program taught her how to effectively use strength and energy. According to Pendleton, she plans on carrying the lessons she learned through Iron Eagles into other aspects of her life.

“Most people know me as a sweet and gentle person, never forceful or aggressive,” Pendleton said. “But inside me, and inside everyone, are untapped reserves of strength and power, not physical necessarily, but mental and spiritual. I have always been afraid of this power, so I kept it inside. Through weightlifting, I learned how to use strength and force in a controlled and constructive way. I am applying this idea to other areas of my life, and I am gaining a lot of self-confidence as an individual, in relationships, in leadership roles and in my relationship with God.”

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