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UNLV’s All Around Fitness Guru Riley Iyo Feature

By Jessica Sagawa
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Some call him the Van Wilder of UNLV without the love for a journalist or the fear of graduating. He’s still on campus to motivate and inspire the UNLV community and himself.

With a resume filled of experiences, certifications, achievements and accomplishments Riley Iyo is still working his way to success. In the meantime you’ll find him motivating clients at the UNLV Student Recreation and Wellness Center or working on his masters of science in Kinesiology.

At noon on Mondays and Wednesdays catch Iyo at the UNLV Rec Center teaching indoor cycling classes with a spin.

“I can’t tell you how many different characters and costumes I’ve seen,” said, Sheila Williams, admin assistant IV of Food and Beverage at UNLV. “You just never know how hard you will laugh.”

A personality of enjoying all that he pursues, spreads to people he’s around. Iyo has been a personal trainer and group exercise instructor on campus since September 2007. Adding to indoor cycling, he instructs boot camp, circuit training and sports conditioning. Improving client’s physical, mental and emotional wellness is his ultimate goal.  

Riley as a teacher and mentor…. He is factual and fun. I have never had a bad experience with Riley. I was once training with another gentleman but I admired how Riley handle the people he worked out with. He paid attention, it is not about just going through the motions, you were instructed on doing it correctly,” said Williams.

Clients appreciate the charisma he brings to their training.

“I have never seen Riley in a bad mood, ever,” said Barbara McDonald Alumna of Boyd Law School. “He is always positive, kind, thoughtful and if you have a question about training, he will have a helpful answer, thanks to his education at UNLV.”

Iyo was awarded the UNLV SRWC (Student Recreation Wellness Center) personal trainer of the year three years in a row since 2010. Being a personal trainer he’s certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS), CPR and AED through American Red Cross and certified Schwinn Indoor Cycling instructor.

Clients are confident that Iyo will do great things in the near future, with all his education and dedication. “I see Riley obtaining his PhD and finding a career that allows him to continue helping others,” said Jayna Daligdig, alumna of UNLV. According to McDonald, Iyo has a natural talent as a trainer. She sees him continuing on in that capacity as a coach, teacher or mentor.

In 2013, Iyo rehabbed a client to regain full mobility and strength in their right shoulder after having surgery for a torn labrum and in 2011 he trained and motivated an obese client to achieve a weight loss goal of 100 pounds and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In 2008, he trained and motivated a sedentary 55-year-old client to complete her first marathon.

“He has great respect with everyone, trying to work out with him is challenging only because everyone wants to talk with him about one issue or another. Someone is always seeking advice from him,” said Williams.

When Iyo isn’t training or instructing others he was a graduate assistant at the UNLV Recreation Center from July 2012 to December 2014. Some of his duties were purchasing fitness equipment and recreational supplies to meet the needs of the recreation center while staying within budget of the fiscal year. He also supervised, scheduled and assisted student faculty attendants and custodial workers with day-to-day tasks.

“I like doing it all, it doesn’t feel like I’m working,” said Iyo.

He’s currently working at Excalibur Hotel as a wellness coach, educating 6,000 plus employees about physical and mental health ranging from nutrition to stress management. While working on his master of science in kinesiology.

Researching with Assistant Professor Brach Poston of the Kinesiology Department, Iyo continues his education.

“He puts some of the things we talk about into practical use in his everyday life and his job then stays in touch with what he’s learning,” said Poston. “He got interested in some of the things I do, so he now works with me in the lab doing research.”

His focus in Neurophysiology is something he enjoys learning about. Poston explained how Iyo was the only student who bought a brain stimulator which they talked about in class and didn’t need to get. Iyo tested it on himself due to how much interest he has for the research.

“Riley is a great student, he’s the type of student that anyone would want to have,” said Poston. “He’s active in class and is very interested in the materials.”

Being in an active city with the uprising of health awareness, to some or many it’s important in their everyday lives. The UNLV community has seen an increase of people eating healthier and exercising more. It’s a prime time for motivational people like Iuo to be exposed to this community. Sometimes the tough part is mind over matter.

“As I listen to him and follow his advice and instructions, I see and feel the change and progress within myself. If I’m discouraged, he will mix it up and turn a negative into a positive in no time,” said Williams.

He influences McDonald’s preparations for marathons.

“Lots of stuff that sticks during the long run, literally, during marathons I hear his advice in my head,” said McDonald.

“Wherever he will end up, people will follow,” said Williams. “He is very good at what he does, but most importantly he is a go getter and not afraid of chance.”

Since 2006 when Riley entered UNLV as a freshman, he knew he wanted to graduate in Kinesiology. Maybe not just a bachelor’s degree and many other experiences he took on within the decade. According to Iyo he sees himself as the “Van Wilder” of UNLV, a film where a college student of eight years doesn’t want to graduate.

“Absolutely, He’s the guy all the girls want and all the guys want to be,” said Daligdig. “He’s the boss with the sauce and all about helping undergrads sans the 10 year plan to graduate.”

Everyone has a downfall in one thing or another. According to Daligdig Iyocan be his own critic when it comes to personal fitness. Due to his dedication he may be hard on himself, just as hard as his training and motivation he delivers to others.

“We are creatures of habit, so make it a habit to work hard,” said Iyo.

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