New-look Ismail Center promotes fitness, undergraduate research

Caleb Mickschi leads a yoga class at the Ismail Center

Caleb Mickschi, left and foreground, leads a yoga class at the Ismail Center for Preventative and Lifestyle Medicine.

Written by: Tim Brouk,

A retired teacher, Glenda Stanton of Lafayette is still contributing to education — and getting fit in the process.

Stanton recently performed leg and upper body work on resistance machines in the newly renamed A. H. Ismail Center for Preventive and Lifestyle Medicine, which is operated under the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS). Following closely behind Stanton was Rebecca Lewis, a junior in the Department of Health and Kinesiology.

With clipboard and pen in hand, Lewis observed how quickly and effectively Stanton performed each exercise. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Chad Carroll, the student is measuring how dietary protein affects muscle and tendon health and strength in older adult women. Stanton’s workouts are fueled by special meals prepared by the Department of Nutrition Science.

Stanton enjoys the instruction from Lewis while working out in the Ismail Center.

“Any study that I qualify for, I like to help out,” she said “I like to know these students are studying and coming along. This may be encouraging to them to see what us older people can do or not do, as the case may be. And I love this space. I think I’m going to come back even after the study is done and use this equipment.”

While gaining valuable research experience, Lewis wanted to work one-on-one with the community before she chooses a career path or medical school. This project allows her to see if a job as a physical or occupational therapist would be right for her.

“It opens my mind to new people and new ideas,” Lewis said. “I really wanted to get involved in research to see if it’s something I want to pursue in the long run. However, I didn’t want to only be in the lab; I wanted to work hands-on with people. This study gives me an opportunity to train participants like Glenda. It gives me some time in the lab, and it gives me some time to do data analysis. It really gives me a chance to be well-rounded in the research field.”

New leadership

Like most Purdue facilities, the Ismail Center was dormant for most of the COVID-19 pandemic. The space, which boasts numerous cardio machines, free weights and a group class studio, reopened in November 2021. Just days prior, Brandon A. Yates was hired as the facility’s new director. A graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Yates wanted to capitalize on the center’s history as a gathering place for faculty, staff and the community while implementing college-wide research opportunities.

“From a college perspective, students from the different departments can utilize this facility to collaborate and discover holistic approaches to improving health,” Yates said. “Working in here broadens their scope and appreciation of health throughout the life span.”

Yates quickly learned of the fellowship that occurs between Ismail Center members. There are many smiles between the treadmill miles; spirits are lifted while lifting.

“It’s a smaller facility compared to the CoRec, but it’s really a community,” Yates explained. “There’s no pressure from working out and seeing one of your students. You have that privacy, and you have opportunity to build bonds with other members. I hear from people all the time that they’ve been coming here 15, 20 years and that has helped them build more relationships throughout the campus. It’s a place to interact and build your health and wellness.”

‘Lifestyle medicine’

While Yates teaches health and kinesiology classes as a clinical assistant professor, his student workers and researchers come from all over the college. So far, a variety of HHS programs have used the Ismail Center as a living lab for balance, audiology, public health, functional movement and athletic training work.

“We’re trying to build a holistic, interdisciplinary care model centered around improving physical health,” Yates said.

Ismail Center location and hours

The Ismail Center is located at 715 Clinic Drive in Lyles-Porter Hall, Room 1130.  The center is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday when Purdue is in session. Call 765-496-1015 for more information.