On Thursday afternoons, Dunia Goncalvez, a Boston native and mother of one, welcomes an afterschool group of boys and girls for their weekly exercise class. Dunia is one of the newest fitness instructors at the newly designed Wellness Center at Bowdoin Street Health Center in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood.
Dunia began her career as a fitness instructor after completing the Train4Change program last year offered by Bowdoin Street Health Center, a community health center affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). A blend of fitness and workforce development, Train4Change trains people to become certified exercise instructors. Once certified, instructors can teach group fitness classes anywhere, including, but not limited to, the Wellness Center.
Almost immediately after receiving her fitness certification, Dunia began noticing positive changes within herself and among other patients at Bowdoin Street.
“This program has given me an opportunity to enter the fitness industry with a certification and a job,” said Dunia. “Train4Change offered a complete package with great people there to help throughout the process. This program is not only great for the participants, but it also helps the patients who eventually take the classes and experience the benefits."
Since January, Dunia has taught group fitness classes for both adults and kids at Wellness Center. More important than teaching her classes, she educates others about the values of fitness and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle.
“I love hearing people in my classes tell me ‘My knees are getting better. Before I couldn't bend down, now I'm squatting!’” Dunia said. The new certification positions participants, like Dunia, for sustainable jobs, as well as the opportunity to become leaders in their community, build wellness and teach friends and neighbors the tools and benefits of healthy living.
“Train4Change is an innovative workforce development program, which has proven to be a wonderful example of how wellness activities can be successfully integrated with primary care services,” says Jen French, Program Administrator for the Wellness Center at Bowdoin Street. “Even in the early stages of the program’s onset, it was evident that participants were not only passionate about improving their own health and wellbeing, but also cared deeply about passing on their knowledge to fellow patients and community members.”
Recently, Dunia began teaching two additional youth exercise classes. Appropriately named Fitspiration, this class focuses on helping kids become more active. Even with two new classes, Dunia has no plans to stop her fitness journey there. She plans to continue her fitness education and expand her certifications.
“I will be looking for certification in a few new areas,” Dunia said. “I want to focus on classes for seniors like Zumba Gold or low impact classes, maybe working out in chairs.” With a newfound lifestyle centered on fitness, Dunia credits Train4Change for facilitating such a positive impact on her life.
“It has combined things that I have enjoyed doing: teaching and helping people reach their goals,” Dunia said. “It has also renewed my love for group fitness and restored the motivation I needed to start working on my own health and fitness goals. It's a win-win all around!”
Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.