Body, mind, spirit
By Marshall Swanson, University Magazine Group, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Marguerite O'Brien about her personal reasons for taking an interest in health and wellness and she'll quote Virgil.
"The greatest wealth is health."
Her initial motivation for maintaining a healthy lifestyle as an adult was the hedge it provided against a family history of inheritable illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. But she also feels better psychologically and emotionally when she exercises and eats well.
"On paper at least, I'm doomed [by genetics]," says O'Brien, director of Campus Wellness.
Fitness was part of O'Brien's childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., where her parents often told her to "go outside and play," which meant "running around with friends." The physical, social, and carefree aspects of the play were important, says O'Brien.
She later took up tennis in high school because her mother had played the game and it provided a good aerobic workout.
While at Carolina, where O'Brien received her bachelor's degree in international studies and a master’s of social work, she began working out at The FIRM — now a Lexington gym — as a way to get exercise and to enjoy its social aspects.
When she started her first career as an organizational administrator at the Carolina Peace Resource Center, she became a part-time instructor at the gym, teaching aerobic weight training. That inspired her to study anatomy, physiology and kinesiology and became a full-time fitness professional, gaining certification as a personal trainer.
O'Brien's personal fitness routine varies, but she exercises deliberately six days a week with combinations of aerobics, strength training, body weight training, indoor cycling and yoga.
She brings her interest in personal fitness to her job by encouraging her staff to stay active and by leading yoga and mindfulness sessions on campus in addition to her responsibilities as the unit's administrator who designs and oversees its programs.
The core of her job, however, is an emphasis on overall health and wellness and "to make sure that the university's faculty, staff and students are taking care of themselves.”
"That's what makes me tick," says O'Brien. "My mission is to help the folks in our community achieve health and wellness in body, mind, and spirit."
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