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Faculty Spotlight: Mark Brticevich

April 24, 2012

By Sean McEntee (’14)

Mark Brticevich, coordinator of Columbia College’s Fitness and Recreation program within Student Engagement, said he knows what it’s like to fight to stay healthy.

Brticevich, who runs the fitness center at 731 S. Plymouth Court, said he wasn’t fit until he was 37, and he was guilty of having many of the poor habits that students still have that contribute to poor health: smoking, drinking, and an unbalanced diet. He added that these habits do more than contribute to a poor quality of life; they make it difficult to be a good student.

Before coming to Columbia in 1994, Brticevich was a personal trainer and CFO for former Columbia President John Duff at the Chicago Public Library. Once he arrived at Columbia he helped open Columbia’s current fitness center and recreational programs.

He does more than oversee the day-to-day operations at the fitness center. When students come in to exercise, experienced or not, Brticevich said he takes time to train them on proper form, use of the equipment, and the most efficient way to reach their fitness goals.

“Our big thing is trying to break through and trying to get students to understand [how to be healthier],” he said. “[They’re] like, ‘Whoa, I’ve been missing this my entire life and I didn’t even realize it.”

Brticevich plans activities and programs — such as NCAA brackets, Dave & Buster’s night out, kayaking on the Chicago River, and rock climbing — to get students to live a less sedentary life and become more active.

When discussing the Olympic games he created for Columbia, which included events such as a shoe-kicking competition and sack races, Brticevich said, “We did things that you don’t have to be athletic to do, but it gets you networking, it gets you bonding with other people, and it gets your body moving in a fun way that you don’t even realize that you’re getting the benefits, and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to accomplish.”

“Columbia is all about ‘Create Change,” and I like that I’m a catalyst for change in a lot of people’s lives,” Brticevich said. He added that about a dozen of his former students went on to become personal trainers.

Along with running the fitness center and creating programs, Brticevich also oversees the college’s athletic clubs, which includes baseball, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, and soccer.

Brticevich said that sports should not be the pinnacle of the school, and he’s glad that they aren’t the “end all of end alls.” The school should revolve around the classroom and the body of work, he said, but athletics are still an important piece to the school.

“We are looking to develop community here at Columbia College,” Brticevich said. “I’d love to see Renegades t-shirts all over the place, and I’d like to see people making it as part of the community.”

Brticevich became involved in fitness 21 years ago because he enjoyed activities where his body and lungs would burn.

“I’m kind of a wacko when it comes to exercise,” he said. “I like things [to which other people would] say, ‘Why would you put your body through that?’”

Brticevich teaches a course titled Boot Camp, a high-intensity class that gets the heart rate up for long periods of time with short periods of rest. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Science and Mathematics, where he teaches personal wellness.