Walter Payton Center: A Place To Get Fit

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Sondra Bell
May 21, 2012

I have fallen and I can’t seem to get back to the track!  Something seems to come up every afternoon with work, church, end of school programs and just life in general.  Take my advice: work out early in the morning…the earlier the better.  There are no staff meetings or parent-teacher conferences at 6:00 a.m.

In order to jump start my training, I visited the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center located at 34 Payton Drive on the campus of Jackson State University.  It is a 90,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that boasts a strength and aerobic conditioning center, racquetball, basketball and squash courts, locker and towel services, a Wi-Fi Internet lounge, ProShop and juice bar. Aerobic classes such as spinning, step and Zumba are included in the cost of membership. There are personal trainers available to assist with proper equipment usage and to answer general fitness questions.  Individuals must be at least 16 years of age to work out in the fitness center, but anyone 12 and older can utilize the various courts and the outdoor track.

Manager Rachel Cowan has worked at the center since 2005.  Cowan is a certified personal trainer and practices what she preaches. She works out daily, and enjoys helping others change their lifestyles from “sedentary to scintillating.”  Cowan recounts the story of a client who could not run a mile when he began working out with her. Now he regularly runs full marathons, and credits Cowan for helping him to accomplish what he thought was impossible.

“This is my greatest joy,” she says, and her favorite aspect of managing the center.

Payton Center personnel, radio station WJSU FM 88.5 and television station WJSU-TV have collaborated on a show entitled “An Ounce of Prevention.” Tips for healthier living are the focus of this weekly show, which airs on both radio and TV Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Response from the first show has been positive. Cowan says that questions from listeners are encouraged, and are answered on the air.

As a part of Jackson State University’s commitment to community outreach, the Payton Center is sponsoring a Tiger Tails summer camp for children ages 6-16, May 29-June 29.  The camp will provide a health-conscious, exercise-intensive environment for children and youth participants, and will even provide two meals and two snacks daily.

For further information on center membership or on Camp Tiger Tails, call 601-979-1368.

I started my indoor workout this Monday at 6:00 a.m.  No excuses and no wagons!

Walter Payton Center: A Place To Get Fit by Sondra Bell -



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