A Day in the Life: Student Fitness Instructor Julia Day Empowers Others

Published on April 10, 2024

By Lexie Barth

“You are capable of way more than you think,” Senior Julia Day says in the weekly strength circuit class that she teaches at Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Recreation Center

As a group fitness instructor, Day fuels her goal to transform the fitness industry through her work and education at EKU. The exercise and sport science major and American Sign Language minor has always been interested in fitness, but it wasn’t until she started recovery from anorexia that she realized her passion for helping others achieve holistic well-being. Through her research into the common misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding eating disorders, she strives to spread awareness and hopes to one day work as a coach for eating disorder recovery.

“I want to empower everyone suffering from eating disorders or a disordered relationship with food, exercise and their body to not be afraid to seek help. It takes incredible strength and bravery to admit you are struggling, and I want everyone to know that they are not alone. You don’t realize how beautiful of a life you can live when you’re free from the chains of an eating disorder,” Day said. 

Day started taking group fitness classes at the Campus Recreation Center her freshman year, when a previous group instructor informed her about the benefits of leading classes. Soon after, Day was hired on as part of the fitness and wellness team. 

While working as a group fitness instructor, Day has gained professional experience in her field, while building more confidence in her public speaking and leadership skills, working with a team and ensuring a safe environment for others. Day’s growth in her position has caught the attention of others at the Recreation Center, including her supervisor Allison McCann, assistant director of fitness and wellness.

“It is a privilege to be a part of Julia's journey,” McCann said. “Professionally, she pursued opportunities by earning her Group Fitness certification and was selected for a competitive internship last summer. I have watched her teaching develop and participants in her class always walk away feeling empowered by Julia's leadership. Personally, she has likely taught me more than I could ever teach her. Her willingness—and courage—to be vulnerable with me about her struggle and recovery has not only educated me, but more importantly, has simply helped me grow as a human being. I am so proud to see her graduate and I know she will impact the world around her for the better.”

Through her student employee position, Day attended the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Conference in Pittsburgh last spring, where she participated in workshops, increased her professional network, and accelerated her growth in the field. 

Day’s normal routine, though, begins with a workout, then classes, then a break for homework or rest before teaching her group fitness class. She likes to arrive at least 30 minutes before her class to set up the studio and get materials ready. The day before, she’ll work at the Campus Recreation Center to create plans for the class. 

“My goal is always to provide my participants with the support they need to feel empowered and appreciate themselves for who they are in that moment. Watching them light up after they do things they thought they couldn’t fills me with pride,” Day said. 

With Day’s graduation right around the corner, she said, “Working at the Campus Recreation Center has been a great first step in becoming comfortable leading others and gaining confidence within myself. I feel fortunate that my first role as a fitness professional was in an environment that encouraged me to push myself and reminded me that it is okay to make mistakes.” 

EKU offers opportunities for students to learn and grow beyond the classroom through a variety of student employment positions. As a School of Opportunity and Employer of Choice, the university employs approximately 1,500 students throughout the academic year. Learn more about student employment opportunities at EKU.