For most college presidents, the “spirit” and “mind” aspects are the most important elements. President Mary-Beth Cooper, however, completes the Springfield College triangle.
Cooper balances her new and busy job along with her family, and her rigorous exercise program. Cooper has always been active. She swam in high school and was also a cheerleader, but it wasn’t until she found her passion for running that her love of fitness took off.
“It wasn’t really until I started running in my early 30s that I got into [the running] world,” said Cooper. “Then in my 40s I did a marathon and 15 half marathons.”
Cooper makes her fitness a priority. She schedules everything around her workouts and even works with a doctorate student here on campus, getting tested regularly as well to ensure she is progressing.
Planning to run in Washington, D.C. for yet another half marathon, Cooper has taken her training up a notch. Not letting age define her, Cooper is in the gym at 6:30 a.m. and makes every rep count. She performs endless jump squats, planks and most recently, her dreaded tempo runs.
“I just want to be a better me. I don’t want to look like that person or this person; I just want to be better,” continued Cooper.
With fitness being such an integral part of Springfield College, Cooper fit in right away. It is not every day that students can say they work out right next to their president, or have seen her on her way to the “bod pod” to get her body fat tested. Springfield attracts these types of individuals – ones who take charge, better themselves and above all love a challenge.
Although she is a self-motivated person, Cooper loves the atmosphere that Springfield College gives in terms of fitness. It is not a surprise to see her in the Wellness Center, often surrounded by weights, or choosing healthy options in Cheney Dining Hall.
“I love to watch students eat in the dining hall, and the choices that they make. For the most part students eat really healthy; it is really inspiring to me,” Cooper said. “I could work out at home…but I’d rather be with other people.
“It is motivating for me to see all the people lifting downstairs. Students have seemed to respond well to the fact that I am at the gym. They know I have a similar value system.”
Although balancing all of her responsibilities can seem daunting, she never lets it hinder her progress. In fact, she uses it to her advantage. Often sipping on a red mixture of vitamins and BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) for muscle recovery, Cooper is just as susceptible to stress as the rest of campus, but like many people, exercise keeps her sane.
“It makes me more patient. The days I work out my attention span is a lot better,” stated Cooper. “On the days that I make poor eating choices I notice that it is easier for me to get depressed or overwhelmed by emails and stuff.”
Much like the students of Springfield, Cooper is balanced and up for anything. She is a president that honors all parts of the Springfield College triangle and doesn’t just try to complete her challenges, but instead, strives to excel at them.