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Kinesiology major makes the gym his classroom as SDFC personal trainer


Ryo Kataoka posing at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus

Ryo Kataoka. Photo by Bryan Pietsch.

May 09, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Working as a personal trainer is a great way to help others and gain experience in the exercise and wellness field. But for graduating senior Ryo Kataoka, the job was a way to learn outside the classroom about the science taught in his classes.

“What is often theoretically acknowledged is not necessarily practical for some clients,” Kataoka, a kinesiology major, said. “These experiences allow me to grow as a personal trainer by giving me new questions and areas to study.”

Originally from Aichi, Japan, Kataoka said working as a personal trainer at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex was a great opportunity for expanding his coaching and communication skills.

He spoke to ASU Now to reflect on his time as a Sun Devil and where he’s going from here.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: Because I have been a competitive soccer player for a long time, I was always intrigued by exercise science.

Although I only had limited knowledge back then, my curiosity in applying science into practice burgeoned when I was in a high school soccer club, and with many trials and errors, my curiosity in exercise science grew even more, so I set my academic career to learn further in college in the United States.

It was not an easy transition from a different country as an international student, but I'm glad about how much I have learned and thankful to all the people who have supported me.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: Coming from a different cultural background, I found that many people in the U.S. are able to give their opinions and be more assertive. I was poor at asserting myself at the beginning, but during my years at ASU, I learned to express my opinion and hold discussions with other students.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU based on a variety of opportunities at such a big school.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Both Nicole Nolan and Tannah Broman taught me the field of exercise science and how to interpret research critically, which I know will help me in graduate school.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Build a habit that helps to reach your goal. What helped me personally was to start with a small habit and make it easy so I can't say no.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The SDFC Downtown was my favorite spot. I liked the atmosphere in the facility and the interaction with staff and students was always pleasing and enjoyable.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I recently got accepted to graduate school in Florida, so my next step is to advance my understanding of the field of exercise science and become a part of enabling the developments in that field. I'm excited about the opportunities that await!

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A:  I would use it to advance the research for sustainable energy sources.

Written by Sun Devil Storyteller Bryan Pietsch, EOSS Marketing

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