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Senior psychology student Madison Lloyd of Berkeley Lake, Georgia, demonstrating isometric sit-ups on the third-generation model of Dr. David Peterson’s 5-in-1 lower body trainer, designed with help from mechanical engineering students.

Fit in Five: Professor Develops New Trainer

by Bryson Durst, Student Public Relations Writer

Dr. David Peterson, assistant professor of kinesiology at Cedarville University, is designing a new 5-in-1 lower body trainer with help from students in Cedarville’s mechanical engineering program.

Cedarville University mechanical engineering students have built mind-blowing supermileage cars, solar boats, an AI golf cart, remote control planes, and a rocket. Now, a group of mechanical engineering students is working to bring to market a versatile five-in-one lower body trainer.

The students are collaborating with Dr. David Peterson, an assistant professor of kinesiology in Cedarville’s school of allied health, to build the lower body trainer, which he designed. This trainer will target a broader range of customers than many of its kind on the market today.

“What I like about the five-in-one lower body trainer is that it allows users to complete a series of high-quality, safe, and relatively easy to perform exercises,” Peterson said. “My passion is for teaching people how to exercise and be physically active for a lifetime.”

He cited two exercises that users could execute with the trainer. Sissy squats, for instance, can help people with knee and lower back pain, while the Nordic curl can help develop hamstrings and lessen the chances of lower back pain or posture issues.

Peterson serves as a personal fitness trainer for some Cedarville faculty members and their families, and he first came up with the idea while working with a client. She needed a specialized piece of equipment in order to perform back extensions to help with her low back pain. Peterson realized that many trainers available on the market wouldn’t be a good fit for her, given that they are designed for younger individuals and may not work well for those with certain health issues.

Peterson’s inspiration blossomed into a five-in-one lower body trainer that also allows users to do sissy squats, Nordic curls, hip thrusters, and isometric sit-ups. As he began work on the trainer’s fourth iteration, Peterson brought in eight mechanical engineering students: Daniel Cavallaro of Callaway, Maryland; Caleb Spreckels of Smithtown, New York; John Thomson of Greenwood, Missouri; Andrew Yerkey of Dublin, Ohio; Ava Merrifield of Shiloh, Illinois; David Pyo of Delaware, Ohio; Ben Schultz of Metamora, Michigan; and Josiah Zurick of Middlefield, Ohio.

The students have helped construct computer-aided design (CAD) renderings of the equipment, and Peterson hopes to begin work on a prototype soon. The revised design is currently being reviewed and considered by several strength equipment manufacturers.

“It’s a great experience for the students because mechanical design and fabrication are what a lot of them want to do postgraduation, and they’re getting a real-world project now,” Peterson said.

Peterson believes this piece of equipment will work well for home gyms, which he says have become more popular during the pandemic, as well as membership-based gyms, noting that it may be less intimidating than free weights for many individuals. He has also spoken to his contacts in the military, law enforcement, athletic training, physical therapy, and occupational therapy who have all said the device could have application in those professions.

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,715 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit


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