By: Scott Robinson
“You can take charge. You can take control of your own health,” said FM physical education professor Debora Fitzdam. Fitzdam has taken these words and put them into action throughout her life, and for the past 24 years has been dedicated to teaching and motivating FM students to do the same. Fitzdam instructs many physical education and health courses at FM, including everything from weight training to human sexuality.
Although many students come and go from Fitzdam’s classrooms, most do not know about her history with fitness and how it affects her outlook on physical education.
In 1983 while working part-time as a physical education teacher at Goucher College in Maryland, Fitzdam attended a bodybuilding competition and realized this was something she could do.
She joined a local women’s gym and started to train alongside competitive bodybuilders. She started going to the gym five days a week for a few hours at a time, focusing on strengthening the muscles that she knew needed work to complete her overall build.
Along with strengthening her body, she was also taught how to pose and spent a lot of time practicing that very important part of the competitions. “You might have the best muscle definition, tone and size, but if you can’t show it, it defeats the purpose,” said Fitzdam.
She went on to compete in two body building competitions. The first was part of the 1983 Ms. Maryland Contest where she competed to rank among the other heavyweight competitors.
Two years after her first competition, Fitzdam moved to upstate NY where she competed again in a local competition known as the Perth Del A Vela Cup. Although she did not win either of the competitions she participated in, Fitzdam remarked that she had fun and learned a lot about herself and fitness through the experience.
Fitzdam said that her main goal is to motivate students to learn about their own health and to exercise. “People don’t realize that they are in charge of their own health. No one is going to do it for them,” commented Fitzdam. She believes that the variety of physical education classes offered at FM allows students to enjoy and get the most out of their chosen form of exercise.
Fitzdam also believes that people should exercise for the right reasons. She wants people to exercise so that they are healthy and to not worry so much about achieving some unrealistic body image. Fitzdam stated, “I think it’s important that people don’t have unrealistic expectations of how they should look, but to take their own body and make it to the best of their own ability with what they’ve been given.”
Fitzdam hopes to continue teaching at FM for years to come. She mentioned that even after all these years she still wakes up every morning excited to come into work. She said that every semester offers her something fresh, through the new groups of students she meets and the varying courses that she instructs.