Caryl Russel holding her award.

Recognized for her dedication in exercise assessment, prescription, application and education, Kinesiology and Health Sciences’ Caryl Russell received the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) Professional Standards Program Recognition Award in Calgary earlier this month.

Russell is a kinesiology instructor and director of programs at the Centre for Community, Clinical and Applied Research Excellence (CCCARE) at Waterloo. She is an alum (BSc ‘80, MKin ‘92) and has worked at Waterloo for more than 43 years. Fittingly, she received the award from one of her former students, Zach Weston (BSc ‘01), now CSEP’s CEO.

“This award is significant as it solidifies the work I’ve done with students – to develop their knowledge and skills, certify them, and in assisting with developing professional programs standards,” says Russell.

The award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to CSEP’s Professional Standards Program, a certification program for personal trainers and exercise physiologists.

When Russell first finished her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, she pursued cardiac rehabilitation and obtained her certification as an exercise specialist with the American College of Sports. Canada then developed CSEP in 1983.

Since then, Russell has been actively involved with CSEP and has been improving the lives of cardiac patients in Waterloo Region through the Hardy Hearts program for those with cardiovascular disease.

Hardy Hearts provides medically supervised and individually prescribed exercise training and healthy lifestyle education for those who are at risk of developing heart disease, or those who have had heart attacks, bypass surgery or angioplasty. She started as a volunteer, and eventually became executive director, bringing in students and working in partnership with the late Dr. Michael Sharratt.

She remains in touch with many of her mentors, including Distinguished Professor Emeriti Dr. Richard Hughson, Dr. Howard Green and Dr. Bob Norman.

“I felt that in Kinesiology, I was given the opportunity to explore so many venues, including teachingresearch and their application across health conditions and performance, which in turn, gave me the knowledge and skills necessary to train students” she says.

Russell also spearheaded the UW WELL-FIT program 22 years ago, now under the umbrella of CCCARE. The program is designed to minimize negative side effects for those undergoing cancer treatment or those who have survived cancer.

“I have the heart in mind in all areas of health,” explains Russell. “AT CCCARE, when working with someone who has had a stroke (STEPS), or has dementia (Brain & Body), or has cancer (UW WELL-FIT), there are different clinical guidelines to implement to ensure safe and effective exercise rehabilitation.”

As part of the work-integrated learning experience at Waterloo, Russell says she encourages students to participate in CCCARE for real-world experience, to build communication skills and make lasting connections. The Chairs and Associated Chairs of KHS have supported her efforts to provide this opportunity to hundreds of students each year.

“I feel very proud of my students that they go on to careers where they uphold CSEP standards,” says Russell. “My award would not be possible without the support of our faculty, fitness and teaching staff, or the students. They’re the reason we’re here.”