TRACI THOMPSON, MS, ACSM HFD, CSCS portrait
  • Director, PEAK Health and Fitness, Wellness and Integrative Health
  • Adjunct Instructor, Nutrition & Integrative Physiology
  • Associate Professor (Clinical), Health and Kinesiology

Current Courses

Spring 2023

  • H EDU 5990-001
    Comm Health Internship
  • H EDU 5991-001
    EMS Internship
  • H EDU 5992-001
    OSH Internship
  • KINES 4810-001
    Kinesiology Internship
  • KINES 4921-015
    Peer Tutoring
  • KINES 4999-016
    Honors Thesis/Project
  • KINES 6910-018
    Masters Internship
  • KINES 7954-015
    Prac. Eff. Tch. Doc.

Fall 2022

Summer 2022

Professional Organizations

  • Academy of Health Science Educators. 04/14/2015 - present. Position : Fellow.
  • American College of Sport Medicine. 05/2001 - present. Position : Health Fitness Director.
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association. 05/2001 - present. Position : Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Practice History

  • PEAK’s core responsibility is to provide practical training and education for undergraduate and graduate College of Health students. Every year, I train, supervise, and mentor 8-14 graduate students and 30-50 undergraduate students as they provide a wide variety of professional level health, fitness, and wellness services to the university community through PEAK. The list below includes programs I developed and supervise. • Health and Fitness Testing • U Employee Fitness Program fitness instruction, personal training • Nutrition Consultation and workshops • Wellness Coaching • Weekly Interdisciplinary Journal Club • U Employee Fitness Program management • Build-a-Bone workshop • Corporate Wellness Programing,Implementation and Evaluation • Park Rx (partnership with PRT dept) • Intuitive Eating workshops • Intensive Lifestyle Program • Food Pharmacy . 01/01/2013 - present .
    http://www.health.utah.edu/peak/

Patient/Client Satisfaction

  • “PEAK has given me opportunities like no other college experience I have had. It has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in my field in a non-competitive or judgmental environment. I have found this to be some of the best preparation for my future thus far. It provides a great freedom in developing teaching styles and techniques. The feedback from instructors and participants is constructive and helpful and is more formal than I would have received in the workforce and I think I am most grateful for that. I am so grateful for PEAK; cherry on top of my education at the University of Utah.” Aubri Goodfellow, former student . 05/2015.
  • “PEAK Health and Fitness has so much to offer the students and staff at the University of Utah. Since I was an Exercise Sport Science major, I got the opportunity to work with PEAK and loved every minute of it. The staff at PEAK is great to work with and the program they have helps so many people stay active. PEAK is a wonderful resource and I wouldn't have gained the hands on experience I did, while working on my degree, without them!” Amber Hills-Martin, former student . 04/2015.
  • “In sum, the PEAK staff has created a program that builds personal and job confidence and skills, creatively and in a supportive environment. I have watched PEAK student-instructors first-hand and close-up. The consistent growth and development of these students over the years is not an accident. The PEAK culture has been carefully and creatively developed, maintained and sustained, even in the worst budget years.” J. Steven Ott, Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean . 01/2015.
  • “I can honestly say that PEAK gave me the most applicable knowledge, and experience to prepare me for work force. If you are being educated on how to teach health & fitness, you should have experience with actually TEACHING health & fitness. It was incredibly important for me to learn how to interact with participants/clients, and find confidence in myself with what I was teaching; my PEAK experience helped me find that. I have been graduated from the U for almost 3 years, and currently working at the University of Utah hospital as an Exercise Specialist. I am eligible for the Employee benefit and decided to sign up for a PEAK fitness class myself. I know how much work goes into preparing those classes, and how thorough Traci is with preparing students to teach classes. I have now been on the student side and the participant side and it's obvious that PEAK Health and Fitness is VITAL to the educational mission of the ESS department.” Elizabeth Featherstone (former student) . 12/2014.

Teaching Philosophy

The most formative and authentic learning experiences of my life have occurred outside the classroom. Internships, volunteer work, my first job in my field—all were opportunities to test what I had been taught in a classroom in a real-world setting. They were transformative in part because they came with uncertainty, adventure and risk taking. I knew I might experience success or failure. Each challenge was an opportunity to build confidence and skills or to practice humility, creativity, and resilience. Because of the powerful impact that these experiences had on my own learning, I strive to construct an experiential learning environment for my students.

Much of my teaching occurs through my role as director of PEAK Health and Fitness, an educational clinic within the University of Utah College of Health. PEAK’s core responsibility is to provide practical training and education for undergraduate and graduate College of Health students. Every year, I train, supervise, and mentor 8-14 graduate students and 30-50 undergraduate students as they provide a wide variety of professional level health, fitness, and wellness services to the university community through PEAK.



One of the best parts of my job is getting to know the students. I meet one-on-one with each student that works in PEAK several times per semester. I aim to craft a climate of trust and commitment and to create an environment in which students are empowered to ask questions, step outside their comfort zones, and even fail occasionally. We talk about everything from what they are doing in their academic classes to what their dream job would be. Each student is charged with creating individualized goals to clarify what they want to accomplish while they are working with me in PEAK. Their ideas and visions of how they want to practice in the fields of health, fitness and nutrition are inspiring.

PEAK Health and Fitness did not exist in its current form before I arrived. Before I was hired as its director, there was only one graduate student worker who conducted basic fitness testing and taught 2 fitness classes per week. There was no university employee fitness program, no Build a Bone workshops, no nutrition consultations or workshops, no interdisciplinary journal club, no bod pod body composition or resting metabolic rate testing, no partnerships with the Diabetes Prevention Program or the School of Dance. Over the years, I have created these opportunities for students to be challenged by a wide variety of real-world experiences. Each opportunity has been chosen to advance and enhance students' community engagement and professional growth through integration of classroom theory with planned, supervised, practical, and meaningful work experience.

Additionally, I have encouraged and supported students to create their own projects. For example, one student wanted to teach courses about intuitive eating, although PEAK had never offered that sort of course before. I challenged her to create a course and, once she did that, I facilitated the necessary administrative tasks to make it happen. Now, Intuitive Eating courses are a regular PEAK offering and new students can teach Intuitive Eating moving forward.

I love witnessing the transformation of a student with lots of academic education who finally has the opportunity to put it into practice. There’s a huge growth of confidence as the student becomes better able to trust in the education they received. I have also seen that students who leave their comfort zone gain new skills and the self-efficacy and confidence to deal with challenges. I believe that my major contributions to the education of students are first, creating lots of opportunities to do this, and second, encouraging students to take that leap. After a while, a new comfort zone is created, expanding the student’s ability to grow further. Students who regularly expand their comfort zone become more resilient in the face of uncertainty.

I’ve always been a big believer in the benefits of risk taking. However, the longer I teach, the better I get at meeting students where they are, taking the time to understand individual strengths and to learn where the edge of each student’s comfort zone lies. Some students need small, methodical steps. Some students are up for larger leaps. Too much challenge can lead to panic. I strive to create opportunities that allow each student enough of a challenge to stretch them, leading to growth and learning.

I believe that education is a process of evolution. My role is to help students step out of the safe, familiar, and routine so that they grow. My favorite thing to witness is a student evolving from someone who resists trying new things to someone who seeks opportunities for growth, who is not afraid to challenge themselves to see what they are capable of. I believe that when this becomes a habit, the student can reap benefits throughout life, including reaching their highest potential.

 

Courses I Teach

  • H EDU 5990 - Community Health Internship
    The purpose of the Community Health Internship is to advance and enhance students' community engagement and professional growth through integration of classroom theory with planned, supervised, practical, and meaningful work experience in the field of community health education. In this Community Engaged Learning (CEL) designated course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges and rewards of delivering health education in a community setting. Each student will work with a community partner to create and accomplish individual goals that will address their organization’s needs. As they actively engage in the community, students will gain a deeper understanding about how to integrate key concepts from the health education curriculum in a real-world setting. Students will reflect on how their understanding of the community and the need they are working to address has evolved through their CEL experience. Additionally, students will improve career readiness by creating a professional online presence, practicing interview skills, meeting with a career counselor, and networking. Students must receive prior approval from the internship coordinator before beginning their internship.
  • H EDU 5991 - EMS Internship
    The purpose of the EMS Internship is to advance and enhance students' community engagement and professional growth through integration of classroom theory with planned, supervised, practical, and meaningful work experience in the field of EMS. In this Community Engaged Learning (CEL) designated course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges and rewards of practicing EMS competencies in a community setting. Each student will work with a community partner to create and accomplish individual goals that will address their organization’s needs. As they actively engage in the community, students will gain a deeper understanding about how to integrate key concepts from the EMS curriculum in a real-world setting. Students will reflect on how their understanding of the community and the need they are working to address has evolved through their CEL experience. Additionally, students will improve career readiness by creating a professional online presence, practicing interview skills, meeting with a career counselor, and networking. Students must receive prior approval from the internship coordinator before beginning their internship.
  • H EDU 5992 - Occupational Safety and Health Internship
    The purpose of the Occupational Safety and Health Internship is to advance and enhance students' community engagement and professional growth through integration of classroom theory with planned, supervised, practical, and meaningful work experience in the field of Occupational Safety and Health. In this Community Engaged Learning (CEL) designated course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges and rewards of practicing Occupational Safety and Health competencies in a community setting. Each student will work with a community partner to create and accomplish individual goals that will address their organization’s needs. As they actively engage in the community, students will gain a deeper understanding about how to integrate key concepts from the Occupational Safety and Health curriculum in a real-world setting. Students will reflect on how their understanding of the community and the need they are working to address has evolved through their CEL experience. Additionally, students will improve career readiness by creating a professional online presence, practicing interview skills, meeting with a career counselor, and networking. Students must receive prior approval from the internship coordinator before beginning their internship.
  • KINES 4810 - Kinesiology Internship
    The purpose of the Kinesiology Internship is to advance and enhance students' community engagement and professional growth through integration of classroom theory with planned, supervised, practical, and meaningful work experience in the field of kinesiology. In this Community Engaged Learning (CEL) designated course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the real challenges and rewards of practicing in a community setting. Each student will work with a community partner to create and accomplish individual goals that will address their organization’s needs. As they actively engage in the community, students will gain a deeper understanding about how to integrate key concepts from the kinesiology curriculum in a real-world setting. Students will reflect on how their understanding of the community and the need they are working to address has evolved through their CEL experience. Additionally, students will improve career readiness by creating a professional online presence, practicing interview skills, meeting with a career counselor, and networking. Students must receive prior approval from the internship coordinator before beginning their internship.