Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Professor Justin Bolkema’s Success Inside and Outside the Classroom

Tyler Bundren

Success comes in many shapes and sizes. While professors’ academic success, such as published papers and books, is often discussed, it’s important to talk about success outside the academic gauntlet. Professor Justin Bolkema is a prevalent example of just this. For the past several years, Professor Bolkema has run and owned Be Relentless gym in Morton, IL, and he has brought the philosophy and teachings of his gym into the classroom.  

Professor Bolkema’s high energy and positive attitude have made him widely liked by the students and staff, but he has not always been the professor he is today. 

Professor Bolkema went to undergrad at Simpson College, working towards an exercise science degree, and then went to Wisconsin Lacrosse for grad school. At Wisconsin Lacrosse, he focused on human performance with a strength and conditioning emphasis, commonly referred to as exercise science. 

Professor Bolkema originally wanted to use his degree to become a college strength and conditioning coach because of his passion for the weight room. 

After interning as a college strength and conditioning coach for a couple of years, he took a break to run and review the personal training program at the Peoria RiverPlex. Even though he loved his time at his internships and RiverPlex, he experienced many prevalent issues in the health and fitness profession. These issues and his love of teaching led him to become a professor, hoping to change how the profession is done today. 

Along with other influences, Professor Bolkema credits his wife as his inspiration for starting his gym. 

“She always supported me and saw my potential beyond working for someone else,” Professor Bolkema said.

His time at the RiverPlex helped him prepare for his future career of owning and running his own gym. However, owning a gym comes with its pros and cons. 

“One of the major cons was learning how to charge for your time, setting boundaries, and not stretching yourself too thin,” Bolkema said. The biggest pro is, “being able to make my own decisions and knowing that the success or failure of those decisions is on me.”

The starting price for membership ranges from 109 to 200 dollars a month for adults and 15 to 20 dollars per session for student-athletes. The prices are Justified in Bolkema’s opinion. 

“Our gym offers affordable private training that provides accountability for our members. We also take a personal interest in our members’ success and want to see them excel,” Bolkema said.   

The core philosophy of Be Relentless is to provide accountability and keep it affordable. Professor Bolkema also strongly emphasizes “Fundamentals, not Fluff.” He does not believe in tricking people into exercising like other gyms in the area. 

As a Kinesiology professor, Professor Bolkema tries to bring the same physiology of his gym to the classroom. As part of his KIN330 class, Professor Bolkema believes it’s important for the students to get hands-on experience and apply what they are learning. Over the past two years, Professor Bolkema, through his KIN330 class, has had a project where students personally train other students and staff free of charge. He first started the project last year.

 “In the past the students definitely learned a lot, and we had many student and staff volunteers to do the project,” Bolkema said. 

This year, so far, the students have been assigned and met with their volunteers already. Their first day in the gym is scheduled for Wednesday, March 27. In the future, Professor Bolkema would love to see internships like this project built into Eureka and the Kinesiology program. 

As mentioned, the project this semester is already underway. Eureka senior Jacob Daniel is one of the students currently in KIN330 working on the project. In his own words, Jacob has explained the project as “an opportunity to get out into the real world and use the skills we have been learning all semester.” 

“So far, I have met with my client and used what I have learned from Professor Bolkema to create a workout fine-tuned to their needs and goals,” Jacob said. “The workout plan I have made is split into sections: prep phase, strength phase, and hypertrophy phase, which helps me further work on my coaching/training skills.”

So far, Jacob has really enjoyed the project. 

“I love how much freedom we have while still having guidance from Professor Bolkema as needed. It has allowed me to learn from my own mistakes,” Jacob said.

Professor Bolkema’s drive in life comes from his passion for physical training and teaching what he knows to others, which can be seen in his classes. If students are interested in taking one of his classes, they will be met with someone with a true passion for what they teach. 

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About the Contributor
Tyler Bundren
Tyler Bundren, Staff Contributor
Tyler Bundren (Metamora, IL) is a transfer student senior majoring in Communication and Media Studies. Tyler spends most of his time working at the Bayview General Store and playing football for Eureka college.