More than 12 years ago, the 3 WINS Fitness program was an idea born in the classroom when California State University, Northridge kinesiology Professor Steven Loy challenged his students to find ways to navigate the current health crisis in the United States related to insufficient physical activity.
“If my generation has failed, what can yours do? asked Loy, who teaches at CSUN’s College of Health and Human Development.
At this point, both the problem and the solution had been identified; but no one was taking the necessary steps to create an effective solution. The students’ responses led Loy to the conclusion that perhaps they needed to get involved in a solution to help them understand their ability to change people’s lives.
The solution was to create what was then known as 100 Citizens, a free community-based, student-run health training and nutrition education program. Eventually, the name was changed to 3 WINS, representing Loy’s philosophy that “seeking three wins in everything you do will result in a more substantial and significant product”. The three wins are participant health, community health and, for students, professional development leading to future employment and career advancement.
“The goal,” Loy said, “was to encourage students to apply their ‘hard skills’ in the field while learning the ‘soft skills’ needed to lead and modify the program as they saw fit” while Loy focused on building relationships between recreation, parks, schools, churches, public health organizations and the university.
“By greenlighting the program, students had the chance to apply skills learned in the classroom to the real world and help underserved communities,” Loy said. They could change people’s lives while they’re still in school.
“The vast majority of America is not exercising as research has indicated,” he added. “About 75% of the population does not exercise 15o minutes per week, which is equivalent to 30 minutes per day for five days and does two days of strength exercises.”
This lack of attention to their health — which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and more — costs Americans billions of dollars in health care each year.
“Students realized that ‘we can’t just tell people what to do, we have to give them the solution and shape it around the needs of their community,'” Loy said.
In collaboration with CSUN Health Sciences Professor Lisa Chaudhari, Loy recently published research which showed that the health of people participating in 3 WiNS improved and, through role modeling for family and friends, encouraged others to follow their example, thus exerting a positive influence on the overall health of the community. At the same time, according to the study, the student-instructors were becoming well-trained professionals.
“3 WINS as a sustainable and replicable student-led model can answer the existing public health call to reduce physical activity and health-related disease and inequities,” Loy said.
He pointed out that in some places it is difficult for community members to participate in physical activity due to limited access to public parks or exercise facilities, and the costs of equipment and clothing. appropriate sports can be prohibitive.
“The goal of 3 WINS is to engage underserved communities in sustainable and replicable activities,” he said. “By running this program for 12 years with no external funding required, 3 WINS has demonstrated a model that universities across the country can replicate.”
Loy said he’s been inspired over the years by how dedicated people are to not just 3 WINS, but to their health.
“Many of the attendees enjoy working with the students – some have been around since the first year we were at the park,” he said.
Loy said he was also inspired by many students who have dedicated up to 6 years to the program and the community.
Loy said he hopes to expand the program nationally and published an article calling on kinesiology programs to take ownership of the physical inactivity pandemic and start their own 3 WINS program.
“The program is free,” he said. “Combined with the social aspect of community members getting together in a familiar setting to exercise with someone young, attending 3 WINS can be a cathartic experience for those who attend, especially in the life as we continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”