Fitness Buddies becomes nationally recognized peer wellness program

Jess Kirby. Photo credit: Beth Graham

NIRSA (previously the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association) is recognizing the UCCS team and their efforts for their innovative and successful interdisciplinary cross-campus collaboration with the Fitness Buddies program. Campus collaborators on the team include Jess Kirby, PhD; David Fehring, Director of Campus Recreation; Katie Smith, former UCCS Wellness Promotion Manager; and Lindsey Visscher, Master of Sciences in Health Promotion student.

“We applied to be recognized as leaders in campus recreation for our peer-leadership model and our strong academic partnerships with student services,” Kirby and other campus partners at the Recreation & Wellness Center said in a statement.

Kirby added, “Fitness Buddies will be the primary focus [of the recognition and presentation], along with programs that followed, like peer health coaching and the practicing happiness curriculum.”

“The past few years of research have confirmed that Fitness Buddies not only improves student wellbeing and academic success, but it is a promising evidence-based practice model in which the theoretical framework that informed the program development and evaluation has accurately predicted improvements in participant wellbeing,” Kirby continued. “The benefits and impacts of Fitness Buddies on student participants and peer leaders have been innumerable.”

The team said they were “astounded” at the number of students that experience their first quality peer relationship through Fitness Buddies, despite having attended classes on campus for several years.

The UCCS team will present at a NIRSA Promising Practices Roundtable online webinar for professionals in early August.  

Learn more about these programs and their impact on the UCCS campus community.

About Fitness Buddies

Fitness Buddies is a free program for the UCCS community to get moving together. Fitness Buddies Leaders are available to work out, exercise and move with you, in or out of the gym. A Fitness Buddy is not a personal trainer, but they can provide valuable motivation, accountability and support to help you reach your wellness goals. With this flexible program, you can select the Buddy that matches your personal goals and interests after reading through the bios. We welcome all levels and fitness interests!

If you are interested in getting started with a Fitness Buddy, please fill out the form. We can’t wait to move with you!


NIRSA comprises and supports leaders in collegiate recreation. As college and university students develop into future leaders, NIRSA members support their learning and growth by fostering lifelong habits of wellbeing. Leadership, teamwork, dedication, and respect are among the many skills exercised by inclusive competition, fitness, and recreation.