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Whether you’re trying to lose weight or stay in shape, COCC offers support

Laura Hamlin
The Broadside

Because your bathroom scale might stress you out, Central Oregon Community College’s Physiology lab offers several tests

Frank Helfenstein, left, and Derek Grieb working out in Mazama Gym at COCC's Bend campus (Derek Oldham)

that can measure your overall health and fitness.
The physiology lab uses underwater weighing and skin-fold caliper testing, which are used to accurately measure body fat composition and VO2 Max (the maximum volume of oxygen used in one minute during maximal exercise) testing. These tests are also beneficial to athletes, who may need to get a clear idea of their fitness or perfect their training regime.
“The underwater weighing from an athletic standpoint is a great tool,” said Matt Plummer, director of Bobcat racing at COCC. “A common thing for athletes is doing body composition. Just watching weight isn’t enough and isn’t a good indicator of where they’re at. With body composition they can actually monitor what’s going on with their body.”
The VO2 Max tests heart rates and lactic acid levels in the blood.
“With that we can determine, your heart is the engine, how big your engine is,” said Johannah Olson, head of the Physiology lab.
Knowledge gained from using the VO2 Max and underwater weighing combined with skin-fold caliper testing can determine training zones and aerobic capacity.
“Student athletes have used the lab which helped with training, as far as where they were at, and where they are going,” said Plummer.
Testing in the physiology lab is also used as part of several Health and Human Performance courses taught at COCC.
“We offer body composition testing for free for health classes,” said Olson. “Health classes come in and do a general assessment of their cardiovascular health, flexibility and different components of their health”
After getting the testing done and seeing the services offered by the physiology lab, Olson said some students return to the lab wanting to know more.
Olson and Plummer hope that students will see the services offered through the lab and take more advantage of them.
“There’s a handful of students who have been competing on their own in various sports, and we see them in the lab more often than those involved in COCC sports,” said Plummer. “As COCC sports gain more momentum, we’ll definitely be in the lab a lot more often.”
Testing is set up by appointment. For more information, visit or contact Johanna Olson at



Weight Watchers at COCC

Jamie Bowles
The Broadside

Balancing a busy schedule and a healthy diet may have gotten easier for Central Oregon Community College students. There is a WeightWatchers program on  campus with weekly meetings led by COCC fiscal services employee Kathy Conley.
“The support here on campus is the exact same support one would get at the other local WeightWatchers locations,” said Conley.
The WeightWatchers group at COCC is part of the AtWork Solutions, which brings the program to the community, at a place convenient for them. Those interested in participating must join the WeightWatchers program. Membership fees are covered through the insurance offered by COCC, as well as some other plans. For those whose insurance will not cover the program, there are other payment options available.
“It’s about being proactive instead of reactive,” said Conley of COCC’s insurance participating in the payment of WeightWatchers program for their employees.
Conley herself has lost 120 pounds on the program and reached her first weight goal within 13 months. She has been with the program for 10 years and is still going strong.
“Not everyone can lose weight on their own,” said Julie Downing, Human and Health Performance Professor and Exercise Physiology Lab director at COCC.
The program provides four key elements to participants that can help them to be successful, according to Downing:
Incorporates social support.
Provides behavior modification.
Offers nutritional advice.
Advocates use of exercise.

The WeightWatchers program isn’t just for people looking only to lose weight, according to Conley. It is a lifestyle guiding program for those who want to lose weight, maintain weight or just to learn how to eat healthier.
“People who have children and want to teach them how to eat right can benefit from this program,” said Conley.




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