Following a partial opening at the end of the fall 2023 semester, the Fried Center for the Advancement of Potential — a new, state-of-the-art gym that combines fitness and physical therapy — is now fully operational. Students with chronic injuries, as well as others who feel they could benefit from the functionality-focused exercise regimen, are invited to sign up for one-on-one appointments with the Fried Center’s staff of strength and conditioning specialists and trained student interns.
The Fried Center opened on the third floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center with a soft launch at the end of the fall semester. During this time, staff working on the second floor of SHW were referred to the Fried Center to act as mock clients, giving Fried Center staff an opportunity to train ahead of the facility becoming fully operational this spring. According to Fried Center Co-Director Keila Strick, the Fried Center has now expanded its services to include any and all students who make an appointment on the HealthyHoos Portal.
Unlike traditional gyms, the Fried Center focuses on “functional exercise,” which helps people with everyday activities through a series of compound movements. According to Strick, this fitness type is a combination of both personal training and physical therapy.
“[Functional fitness] closely mimics movements that we incorporate into our everyday lives,” Strick said. “The program is very exercise heavy and functions similar to a personal training model, but the exercise program designs that we implement are geared towards improving one's overall health, well being and functional strength.”
The Fried Center currently offers two appointment types — an initial evaluation and follow up visits — both of which cost $30 per hour.
“[The first visit consists of] understanding your baseline movement patterns, doing a structural exam, doing baseline fitness and strength testing,” Strick said. “Putting that whole picture together, we begin to design an exercise program that will fit the needs of that client.”
According to Strick, the Center will also be adding a third appointment, which will consist of a free consultation to discuss the client’s needs and how the Fried Center can assist them.
The functional fitness model was first invented by David Luedeka, co-director and head physical therapist of the Fried Center, in 2016 to assist clients at the original Fried Center, located in Albemarle County. Luedeka partnered with University Kinesiology Professor Martin Block to expand the functional fitness model using student interns.
According to Danielle Black, associate director of communications for the Department of Health and Wellness, the conceptualization of the Fried Center dates back to the opening of the Health and Wellness Center in Oct. 2021. The design process for the center began in March 2022, with construction officially starting in Sept. 2022.
The Fried Center is named after benefactor Barbara Fried, who served as a member of the University’s Board of Visitors from 2014 to 2022. Fried worked with Luedeka to create a gym that could effectively accommodate everyone, particularly those in need of specialized care.
This new center is a partner facility with the Fried Center in Albemarle County, which primarily assists residents of the Innisfree Village, a community for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Fried founded the Innisfree Village with the aim of providing housing and care for local community members in need of extra support in their everyday lives.
There are currently 23 paid graduate and undergraduate interns who oscillate between the Fried Center in Albemarle and the new Fried Center at SHW. An additional 10 interns are in training to work with Fried Center clients one-on-one.
University students interested in interning with the Fried Center must first complete a class called Service Learning in Medical Fitness. Orselia Fuentes-Aguilar, Fried Center intern and University alumna, encourages interested undergraduate students to take this class and get involved with the Fried Center.
“If anyone is interested in becoming a physical therapist or becoming a nurse, I would highly recommend you take the class and become a part of this family,” Fuentes said. “You learn so many interpersonal skills and you get so much experience … by being around these amazing physical therapists that teach you so much.”