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Montes spreading the message of the values of exercise

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – New Monmouth College faculty member Jeffrey Montes is not a doctor in the medical sense, but with a doctorate in kinesiology, he’s constantly studying important ways to make people healthier.

“The big push right now for people in the fields of kinesiology and exercise science is exercise being considered as medicine,” said Montes, who joined Monmouth’s faculty last fall as an assistant professor of kinesiology. “We’re learning that exercise can produce the same results as medicine, so why take meds that might give you side effects when you can simply exercise instead?”

Most people understand that exercise is generally good for them, but Montes said it will take an intentional effort to move the mindset to exercise superseding medicine.

“We need to get this generation (of college students) interested in exercise as opposed to medicine,” he said. “With kids nowadays, for example, why take a medicine to lower their blood pressure when they can lower it just by walking?”

Montes enjoys spreading the word about exercise and also enjoys helping young people. Those fields weren’t his first career choice, but when he had the opportunity to make a change a decade ago, he knew what he wanted to do.

“I was in Las Vegas in 2009 when the economy crashed, so I decided to go back to school,” he said. “It was an opportunity for me to do what I really wanted rather than what I just fell into.”

To that point, Montes had been in the Marine Corps and worked as a police officer, as “graveyard shift” security at a casino and as an engineer.

“I’ve always been interested in exercise and things like that,” he said. “I had the opportunity to pursue it, and I said, ‘I’m going to take it.’”

Montes stayed in Las Vegas for his schooling, earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He soon discovered that his communication skills made him well-suited for teaching.

“I’d never thought about teaching, but I just started doing it in graduate school, and I really enjoyed it – the variety of students I worked with and helping them learn,” he said. “I’ve never been shy about talking. I was used to interacting with the public a lot, especially during my 14 years working security at the casino. I was always dealing with medical calls, customer complaints, that sort of thing.”

During his time at UNLV, it became an R1 university, meaning it was classified for “very high research activity.” Montes, however, wanted to continue focusing on teaching.

“I like the attitude about teaching that small colleges have,” he said. “There’s still research at a school like Monmouth, but it’s more about the professors helping to guide the students along their research path. This is a niche I really enjoy.”

At UNLV, Montes was the exercise lab coordinator, working with pieces of equipment that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. He’d like to bring that same concept to Monmouth eventually.

“We have an idea where we want to go,” said Montes of the department. “It’s going to take some time. We do our analyses now with formulas and sheets, which is pretty common. We teach more of the field evaluations.”

This spring, Montes is teaching “Functional Anatomy,” as well as the first and second sessions of “Exercise Physiology.” The latter is a 400-level course required for Monmouth’s exercise science and physical education majors.