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Spartans Slim Down to Suit Up for Spring Break

Everybody wants that beach body for spring break, but not everyone is willing to commit to what it takes to shed that winter (albeit a 70 degree winter) weight. Luckily, UT offers a variety of opportunities for students to get fit before springtime rolls around.

The Office of Campus Recreation features the “Spartan Slimdown,” among other programs as a way to encourage students to commit to physical activity and healthy eating. The program serves as a unique way to work out with the support and advice of health professionals. 

The Spartan Slimdown is available to full-time undergraduate students who are serious about losing 15-20 pounds to get to a healthy weight. As an incentive to continue the program, $30 of the $60 fee is returned to the participants upon completion.

Melissa Levy, student coordinator of fitness and a junior majoring in human performance, heads the Spartan Slimdown, along with working as a personal trainer and instructing spinning, strength training and total body conditioning classes at the McNiff Fitness Center. 

after weight

Atakan Keskin after completing the fitness challenge. Photo courtesy of Atakan Keskin

“This year it is my first year running [the Spartan Slimdown] so I have incorporated some of my own ideas into it this year to make it as beneficial as possible to those participating in it. I have also hired three great trainers to help out, Joel Metzger, Brandon Boston and Daniel Indorato,” Levy said. “I got into personal training because I want to help people change their lifestyles to become healthy, happy and feel confident. Seeing people reach their health goals is so inspiring. I’m excited to see how successful this year is.” 

Applications were due Jan. 30 along with a $60 fee and a 250 word essay describing why the candidate should be selected for the program. The program requires participants to be beginner exercisers and should be able to meet for weekly weigh-ins and group workouts, along with three unsupervised workouts per week. 

The applications defined the Spartan Slimdown as a “…nine-week fitness and wellness program designed to provide a safe, effective and fun way for students to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle through exercise, education, and behavior modification.”

Last spring, Atakan Keskin, a junior international business and finance major with a minor in economics, completed the Spartan Slimdown after deciding that he needed to make a lifestyle change. 

“I used to be a football player. At that time, I was like 230 pounds. Then I got injured and I had the surgery and I couldn’t play football anymore,” Keskin said. “I wanted to focus on education, but a lot of schools turned me down because I was injured and then I gained even more weight. I was like 255 pounds. Then I was like, well maybe I should go to the gym, and the first day I went there was a flyer about the Slimdown.” 

before weight

Junior and international business major Atakan Keskin before participating in the Spartan Slim Down fitness program.
Photo courtesy of Atakan Keskin

Before participating in the Slimdown, Keskin displayed his dedication to fitness by losing about 20-30 pounds on his own. During the Slimdown, he lost an additional 25 pounds. Keskin has kept off 80 pounds in total since then.

Keskin credits the support and focus from the trainers and dietician for much of his success. They gave him diet plans, a calorie counting app, and workouts to adhere to throughout the program and afterwards. 

Keskin continues to work out at the gym every day. He even shared some words of encouragement for anyone considering making a lifestyle modification: 

 “The best thing to emphasize after the program is to just keep continuing until your goal. It’s not like a year-long thing, but they give you an idea of what you should do,” Keskin said. “They really push you towards your goal. I really recommend the program. You get two personal trainers and a dietician and you lose weight.” 

Students have other options to get over their hibernation aside from the Slimdown. Many students take advantage of the McNiff Fitness Center throughout the school year, attending a variety of classes and groups that the center offers.

“I workout for self-confidence and to look good, I guess,” said Amy Nilsen, a junior nursing major. “I’m more awake, I’m more alive, I’m more alert. It just makes me feel good after.” 

Bianca Lopez can be reached at


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