CUC Introduces ‘New Me 2023’ Fitness Challenge


Professional strength and conditioning coach Bo Hernandez, ’20, gives a presentation to participants at the weekly “New Me 2023” meeting.

Parker Kelley

Exercising and prioritizing a healthy diet can have many positive benefits. Concordia University Chicago Exercise and Sport Science department has created a new fitness challenge to help faculty, staff, and students pursue a healthy lifestyle.

“New Me 2023” is a free, 10-week-long weight loss and fitness challenge that includes weekly meetings, personalized workout programs, and nutrition guidelines.

“Our goal is to give an option for faculty, staff, and students to have an area where they can improve their fitness,” said certified personal trainer and CUC alumni, Mark Hogan ’20. “A big reason why people don’t start or focus on their fitness goals is because they don’t understand it.”

For someone who does not have a fitness background, the gym can be an intimidating place. “Exercise science can be kind of confusing,” said Hogan. “We are trying to clear that up and give direct guidance to show them how to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Hogan is assisted by fellow 2020 CUC graduate, Bo Hernandez, C.S.C.S., and current CUC junior Jessica Parker, an exercise science major. They are under the direction of CUC professor of exercise and health science, Suzanne Walsh, PhD, ATC.

“The challenge is there to help people who struggle with nutrition, fitness goals, or motivation in general,” said Parker. “We are trying to help people learn more about it, and motivate them to live healthier, better lifestyles.”

Considering the first day of the challenge was Jan. 23 of this year, the challenge participants have not noticed any drastic differences in their overall health quite yet. However, the things they are learning in the challenge are remaining fresh on their minds, such as eating a salad instead of a slice of pizza or knowing when to lift weights versus when to perform cardio exercises.

“I haven’t seen any massive differences yet,” said Kylie Gilmore, fitness challenge participant and CUC’s director of campus engagement. “However, it does have me thinking about these things more consistently.”

“Now, I think about things like, when I’m preparing meals, substituting white rice for brown rice,” Gilmore added.

A big part of achieving your personal fitness goals is developing a disciplined mindset. “We cover all the bases with training, nutrition, and mindset because I believe mindset is really big with fitness,” said Hogan. “A lot of people suffer right now with anxiety and depression, and I feel like exercise is a great outlet to help them.”

A major selling point of the New Me 2023 challenge is the convenience. “I saw the opportunity, and it was free and convenient,” said Gilmore. “I think what stopped me in the past from officially joining a workout group or plan is cost and convenience.”

All meetings for this challenge occur in Kretzmann 350 on Mondays from 11:30 to 11:50 a.m. Members of the campus community are still encouraged to join.

“If you’re feeling like you lack energy, don’t know how to eat right, or are just lost in the gym,” said Hogan. “This is a great challenge to clear things up a little bit and get help from fitness professionals.”

So far, the participants have been highly impressed by the knowledge conveyed by the coaches in the fitness challenge.

“The students have done a really good job at breaking it down, so that someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience or knowledge in this area can understand,” said Gilmore. “Making good choices convenient is something that has always helped me.”