May 22, 2018 | ° F

Who do Rutgers students call when they freak out? Stressbusters!

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Even with heavy stress brought on by piling assignments and exams, Rutgers still finds a way to soothe its students.

The University partnered with New York University fitness guru Jordan Friedman’s program about four years ago, said Anne Finetto, assistant director of Fitness and Wellness at Livingston Recreation Center. Friedman is the founder of the Stressbusters training program which has received national recognition.

The program aims to relax and de-stress participating students from all the physical and mental tension build by school pressure ... using messaging therapeutic techniques. It created a “human touch” Finetto said. 

“(That) was what motivated us to (get involved),” she said.

She said she remembers thinking there was a need for a program like this to aid students. She then heard about similar programs at other institutions including Harvard University, NYU and University of Missouri.

“(It would) help relax students during the academic year,” she said. 

As she was thinking about how the program would help establish a less stressful environment on campus, Friedman had visited the University.

Friedman came and patiently taught students proper techniques to decrease stress levels, she said. The program even encourages students to volunteer and be more involved.

It seemed to have that effect on some of the students after they were inspired to dedicate more time to the program.

Paul Kwiatkowski, the Busch Campus Recreational Center fitness coordinator, recalls his time with Stressbusters from when he was an undergraduate student at the University.

Kwiatkowski graduated from the School of Art and Sciences in 2012 with a degree in Psychology. He was introduced to the program when Finetto approached him when he was working as a fitness assistant for Rutgers Recreational.

“It was fun to try something new,” he said. “It was a great way to break that touch barrier with (someone).”

Since he was a student, he understood the stress that comes with school work. He helped spread the word and expressed that the program would make an immediate and positive impact to students.

Since graduating from the University, he has worked in multiple positions including Graduate Assistant in Wellness Services during his graduate study at the University of Nebraska. He had been studying educational psychology with a focus in behavioral change and wanted to learn how to improve the health and wellness of others. That led him to get involved with personal training, mainly with weight loss programs.

It was right after his position at Villanova University as a Fitness Center Operations and Program Management Intern, when he remembered Finetto and Stacy Trukowski, co-interim director of Rutgers University Recreation that reached out to him about an open position on campus.

“(It) was a homecoming feeling for me,” he said. “It’s been fantastic to be back. I’m able to give back to (the) students."

He said he enjoys his new position and is striving to be good at it. He accredits the communication and relationships he has maintained with Finetto, Trukowski and his colleagues as to why he was able to get this opportunity.

“I want to make a positive impact with students,” he said. “I’m trying to improve what I can today.”

The program has been able to further the success and experience of yet another student because of her involvement.

Tiffany Sun, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, currently works with Stressbusters as an event captain. She is in charge of facilitating coordinated events.

She said she got involved with the program last year and has been with it since. This year she asked to be a captain because she wanted to help spread the word of the program’s benefits.

“While I was participating, I realized not many people were aware of the program,” she said.

She recalls always enjoying giving massages to others because it not only helped release stress for those being massaged but also helped with her stress management.

“Giving others massages was like my own stress ball, my own stress release (that) required my own pressure,” she said. “Seeing (their) reaction afterwards made it worthwhile for me.”

Her main perspective on program has been positive. She has taken notice of how much the program has been requested throughout the University. “That’s why I feel it’s more important to (keep promoting),” she said.

Her and the rest of the Rutgers University Stressbusters program coordinators meet frequently to discuss new ideas of how they can spread the word. Although they do have an information page on the Rutgers University Recreational website, she thinks that word of mouth has been their most effective form of promotion.

Julian Jimenez

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