Alumnus Uses Fitness Degree as CrossFit Trainer and Professor at Grace College
They say the Lord works in mysterious ways. For Grace College exercise science student Colton Wottring, this came in the form of not one, but two job offers after graduation – one as an adjunct professor of exercise science at Grace and the other as a trainer at CrossFit Haymaker.
“I was definitely not expecting that, being only 23,” said Wottring.
But he has taken his new roles in stride.
Wottring graduated in December 2022 with a degree in exercise science and a concentration in pre physical therapy (pre PT). He went through multiple major changes before landing on what suited him best. Through the process, Christi Walters, assistant professor and program director for exercise science, helped Wottring decide that a fitness degree would best help him achieve his goal of being a personal trainer.
While Wottring thoroughly enjoyed all of his courses, his favorite was Essential Doctrinal Themes taught by Reverend Lonnie Anderson.
“He made the class fun,” said Wottring. “We were very talkative as a class, so we had some lively discussions about our beliefs.”
Now teaching the Group Fitness and Special Topics in Fitness courses, Wottring approaches teaching with the same discussion-based format. He wants his students to express their viewpoints and be able to back them up with solid evidence.
As a recent student, Wottring understands the needs of those in his classes. While he still has a lot to learn under the supervision of Walters, Wottring sees the advantages of being a young instructor. “I understand the needs of students today because I was one just a few months ago,” said Wottring. “Some of my students are people I used to be in class with, which has been an interesting adjustment to make.”
Despite being a young professor, Wottring is determined to provide an excellent class experience that will help students find their career niche, just as he has.
Wottring’s position at CrossFit Haymaker was also unexpected. Colton had spent years training as a high school and college athlete at Haymaker, so he was familiar with the gym’s owner, Ryan Hill. After a conversation with Hill about the next steps to becoming a personal trainer, Hill offered him a job on the spot. While Wottring’s fitness degree and pre PT concentration certainly helped him get this position, knowing Hill personally helped Wottring get his foot in the door.
“Ryan and I knew each other as people first, as opposed to just employer and employee,” said Wottring. “It’s so cool being there as a trainer after having extensive experience there as a client.”
As a level one coach, Wottring teaches several hour-long classes each day. Classes consist of a warm-up, strength training, and metabolic conditioning. He teaches the proper form for each exercise through demonstration and explains how to do a workout so that the intended physiological outcome is achieved. Level one designation is the first of four certifications that trainers can receive at CrossFit Haymaker.
On top of both of his jobs, Wottring is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Exercise Science with a concentration in Human Movement Science from Concordia University in Chicago. As he continues to advance his career as a Christian, Wottring holds to the fact that people should not only take care of their physical bodies, but also know the One who created them.
Wottring knows that a big part of successfully sharing Christ with clients is forming genuine friendships. “The best personal trainers are those who are good at developing relationships with their clients,” said Wottring. “Clients won’t necessarily know what a great written program is, but the client will come back to the trainer they have a connection with.”
Wottring’s positions as an adjunct professor and a CrossFit trainer both play into each other as he teaches and gains real-world experience. Wottring recognizes the value of practicums and internships as a student. Hands-on experience is priceless for a student trying to enter the workforce. But, he also knows that he would have never entered the field with competence without his fitness degree and pre PT concentration from Grace.
If you are looking for a college that values knowledge and experience as equally valuable parts of its fitness degree curriculum, then Grace might be just the place for you!