Heather Chambliss, Ph.D., FACSM, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
Did your career path start off with fitness?
I was a Biology/PreMed major as an undergraduate and received my master’s in Counseling. I grew up participating in gymnastics and cheerleading. I always had a love and appreciation of all sports. I knew I wanted to go on to get my PhD when I discovered the field of Exercise Psychology… a field that combined all of my academic interests in Biology and Psychology and incorporated my passion for athletics and fitness.
What is the most important career move you have made in your life so far?
Choosing the degree of Exercise Psychology and completing a post-doc at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, TX were the two most impactful career decisions. My graduate degree of Exercise Psychology provided the academic and scientific experience that allowed me to explore opportunities in both research and applied settings. At the Cooper Institute, I was able to explore different career opportunities including research, writing, program design, and health coaching.
Did you have a mentor, or was there a person in your life that inspired you along your path to get into this field?
I have had several mentors in my life. I have been blessed to have incredible teachers throughout my academic pursuits. I have also enjoyed great relationships with colleagues that continue to inspire, challenge, and inform my path. I am grateful that there are people I can call on for advice, whether it is for my career or to provide assistance with professional projects. I encourage everyone to develop that network of people who encourage you to be better and support you in your endeavors, both personally and professionally.
What motivates you to exercise?
I have 2 young daughters, Karis (age 6) and Clare (age 4). I want them to see me make exercise a priority so that hopefully they will discover their own interests in sports and fitness. Overall, exercise is my “me time” and a time to de-stress. I often walk-and-talk with friends as a way to catch up… as moms of young kids, my friends and I can use the “time out” ourselves!
What fitness activities do you participate in?
You will often find me walking or running while listening to audiobooks… usually suspense novels so I keep going to find out what happens next! My favorite exercise is Ultimate Frisbee. My husband and I have a “date night” every Monday to play Ultimate with friends. It’s a fun way to multitask… we enjoy time together and with friends… and get great exercise all in one. Some friendly competition adds to the intensity. We have also started doing 5Ks as a family. I’m not a runner… at least it’s not my favorite thing to do… but we like being involved in the community and being active as a family… plus the t-shirts are usually pretty cool.
What inspires you: Personally. Professionally. Spiritually?
My husband and I have started doing “3 words” each year. This year my words are “faith, “discipline,” and “joy.” These help remind me of my priorities… God, family, friends, and community. I enjoy teaching, research and consulting on health and fitness because it truly does change lives.
How did you first become familiar/involved with ACSM?
I became active in ACSM during graduate school doing research presentations at the Annual Meeting. As I became more familiar with the mission and work of ACSM, I realized I wanted to be more connected and participate more fully in those efforts. I became a Fellow several years ago and volunteer in different areas, especially in initiatives related to behavior change. I benefit from gaining professional knowledge and enjoy wonderful relationships with colleagues who make me better… personally and professionally.
What one piece of advice would you provide to up and coming health and fitness professionals?
I encourage each person to make the most of opportunities to connect and network with other health professionals and organizations… your participation enables you to gain valuable knowledge, build relationships, and find new opportunities to promote fitness.