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SUNY Plattsburgh Fitness and Wellness Leadership Major Completes Internship at Famous Spa

Sarah Pope spent her summer a long way from her home in Long Island, doing an internship at The Oaks at Ojai in California.

The senior spent her vacation as a fitness intern at the award-winning destination spa where she led hikes, planned fitness programs, taught classes and got firsthand experience in the business.

Founded by former Plattsburgh resident Sheila Cluff, the Oaks accepts only one student intern per semester, making the program very competitive.

Learning About Both Fitness and Business

Students from around the country vie for that one internship, according to Kenneth E. Baldwin, assistant professor and fitness and wellness leadership program coordinator at SUNY Plattsburgh.

"We are very proud that Sarah was selected for such an opportunity," Baldwin said. "The Oaks provides interns with an opportunity to learn not only the fitness and wellness component, but also how to operate and manage a successful business as well."

‘It Was an Awesome Experience’

A fitness and wellness leadership major who is minoring in athletic coaching, business and marketing; a ZUMBA and total-body-blast instructor; and a member of the college’s cross-country and track teams,  Pope is no stranger to hard work —physically and academically.

It’s a good thing. Every morning Pope woke up early and led hours-long hikes in the local mountains, followed by several group-fitness classes like aqua cardio, belly dancing and muscle conditioning.

To explore the business side, Pope worked at the front desk and with corporate accounting and payroll. She even helped the fitness director revamp and market a resistance-band training program.

But her growth didn’t stop there.

"I felt really good while I was out there," she said. "I gained seven pounds of muscle!"

That’s no surprise, since she worked a full 40-hour week and lived off the all-fresh, 1,200-calorie diet provided by the spa kitchen.

"It was an awesome experience," she said.

‘I like Working with People Who Want to Make a Change’

Living a healthy and fit lifestyle isn’t anything new to her. The youngest of six kids, Pope grew up participating in sports and always got pleasure out of motivating others.

"Being a competitive athlete for many years sparked my interest in athletic training," she said. "I like working with people who want to make a change."

Read more about Pope’s experience at The Oaks on her fitness blog Lift, Love ZUMBA.

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