by George Cartsonis
What with managing her own fitness business, teaching, running in charity marathons, attending classes at Oakland University and planning for her wedding next May, you’d think Tricia Croney’s plate is pretty full these days.
Not really. In fact, the energetic graduate of Oakland Community College’s Exercise Science and Technology program’s fitness business is going so well that she’s preparing to open another studio within a year. Where does Tricia get her drive? Some of it may be inherent, but for the most part the trim 29 year-old ascribes her energy to the healthy lifestyle she both practices and teaches professionally.
Ironically, Tricia’s early years didn’t seem to point her to the path of proper nutrition – one of the specialties that she now teaches. "As a matter of fact, my family owns a fast food franchise… that’s the environment I grew up in," Tricia says.
Perhaps that’s the reason she became, in her words, a "cardio-junkie" in her early 20’s, obsessed with keeping her heart in good shape through aerobics.
A so-so high school student, Tricia began taking classes at OCC with no particular career goal in mind – an "exploratory student" as she puts it. But after signing up for a class with OCC Exercise Technology faculty member Vicki Kloosterhouse, it all came into focus; Tricia became convinced that this was the career for her.
Dr. Kloosterhouse’s mentoring, both inside and outside of the classroom has made a lasting impact on Tricia. "I was afraid at first", she says, "but Vicki gave me encouragement and made me aware of opportunities I never imagined."
Tricia found that OCC offers a comprehensive program in exercise technology with core classes in subjects like physiology, nutrition, electrocardiography and exercise leadership. Students also serve internships at health care facilities to gain practical, hands-on experience in actual workplace settings. For prospective entrepreneurs, the program offers a business option as well, featuring classes such as management, accounting and marketing. Upon graduation in 2000 Tricia felt she had the knowledge and experience to establish her own studio in Clarkston, Creative Mind and Body Fitness.
The business has grown rapidly, now boasting a customer base of 250 clients and a staff of four health professionals. Several massage therapists (two of whom are graduates of the OCC massage therapy program) also work through the studio.
The techniques used at Creative Mind and Body Fitness include Lengthen and Lean (a deep muscle strengthening and stretching regimen), several types of yoga, personal fitness coaching (both in individual and small group formats) nutrition analysis and consultation, and therapeutic massage.
"Our approach doesn’t restrict itself to the class session" Tricia says. "We provide homework so that clients will integrate healthy habits into their lifestyles". In fact, Tricia prepares a customized exercise prescription for each of her clients.
Equipment at Creative Mind and Body Fitness is not elaborate – stability balls, resistance tubes, mats and medicine balls are all employed, "but the best equipment you have" Tricia says "is your own body. Classes are set up to enable people to take full advantage of that wonderful mechanism," she says.
What does the future hold for this self-actualizing entrepreneur who so effectively practices what she preaches? Besides her upcoming marriage and business expansion, Tricia intends to further her education by earning a master’s and eventually, a Ph.D. so she can teach at the college or university level. She also plans to continue giving back to the community by participating in runs where she has personally raised nearly $20,000 for charitable causes such as the Leukemia Society of America.
Tricia Croney has achieved an impressive record so far in her young life, but the future promises even greater accomplishments.