Q&A with Keenan Paris, Wellness Center Manager

Cardio Kickboxing

Cardio Kickboxing

Employee Wellness: What are the Wellness Center’s plans for fall programming?

Keenan Paris: The new Fitness Classes we plan on adding for the Fall and Winter are Pilates, Strong by Zumba™ (H.I.T.T.Z. [High Intensity Tempo Training Zumba] ), and Cardio Kickboxing.

EW [Employee Wellness] : What do you consider to be a balanced approach to maintaining optimal health?

KP [Keenan Paris] : Eating healthier, exercising at least 3 days a week including cardio for at least 30 minutes.

EW [Employee Wellness] : What is the key to successful dieting? Should certain food groups be emphasized over others or no?

KP [Keenan Paris] : I do not like using the word diet. I prefer health maintenance. The food groups that should be focused on primarily are: fruits, veggies, fish, poultry and natural whole grains. Try to stay away from processed foods laden with sugar, additives, and preservatives.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Talk about exercise: What are our options? Is there a basic exercise that works across the board for everyone?

KP [Keenan Paris] : There is a plethora of options when it comes to exercise, from walking to CrossFit. There isn’t a basic exercise that is made for everyone. You have to experiment and explore different exercise options for you. What may work for you may not work for me.

EW [Employee Wellness] : What is the role of muscle maintenance (weight-lifting, leg presses, etc…) in producing a healthy strong body?

KP [Keenan Paris] : It keeps the body in a state of resistance and load when doing these types of exercises, which is vital in maintaining muscle tone, structure and overall health. Again, as we age it’s all about maintaining our bodies.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Aerobic exercise: Is it just good for the heart or are there other benefits?

KP [Keenan Paris] : Yes, cardio is great for the heart but it is also great for circulation, brain function and psychological well-being.

EW [Employee Wellness] : What do you consider most rewarding aspects of managing the center?

KP [Keenan Paris] : The most rewarding is seeing staffers literally changing their lives. Watching their minds, bodies, and spirits change to better versions. Shedding an old, less healthy lifestyle can produce truly amazing results.

EW [Employee Wellness] : What would you consider to be the greatest challenges managing the Wellness Center?

KP [Keenan Paris] : The greatest challenges would be keeping up with the latest trends and technologies associated with wellness and fitness. From new exercise wellness concepts to improve our bodies, to the latest gadgets to help individuals, it all can be hard to track at times because there is so much out there.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Now that all the fitness instructors have been hired, what will you focus on accomplishing next?

KP [Keenan Paris] : In the long run, I want to see our staff get better along with our infrastructure so we can take on more. I also would like to see the SPN [Synergy Park North] itself get some physical updates. I would like to see the men’s and women’s locker rooms updated to a modern design along with new paint, lighting, flooring and audio system for the SPN [Synergy Park North] multipurpose room.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Are there any plans to add new equipment?

KP [Keenan Paris] : As far as plans for new equipment, at the moment we do not have any but we’re always keeping our eyes out.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Music seems to play a role in exercise – how is it beneficial, or does it simply distract from any pain during exercise?

KP [Keenan Paris] : Music is a great tool and is integral in exercise regimen. Music helps you emotionally, it helps physiologically, the list goes on. Music has the ability to reach places within you to push you to new heights!

EW [Employee Wellness] : When is the center reserved for athletics and when is it available for staffers?

KP [Keenan Paris] : The Wellness Center is open to staffers from 5:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The hours for athletes are from 7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. However, there’s some overlap sometimes.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Are there any plans to expand hours? Are there any plans to develop programs at other campus locations (i.e.: Rec Center West, Activity Center, or satellite  campuses)?

KP [Keenan Paris] : Eventually, we plan on expanding the SPN [Synergy Park North] Wellness hours but no time frame has been set. I think we have to place a better infrastructure before moving on to expanded hours.

EW [Employee Wellness] : Is there anything you would like people to know that hasn’t been covered yet?

KP [Keenan Paris] : The thing I would like for all staffers to know is to remember that SPN [Synergy Park North] is for them, and to take part of this benefit that UT Dallas has provided them. They should be using the Wellness Center as much as possible. Our goal at SPN [Synergy Park North] is to see all faculty and staff getting healthier and changing their lives for the better.


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