Unorthodox Methods Help Professor Flex Muscles in Classroom

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

When walking into Dr. Greg Bradley-Popovich’s office, the word eclectic would come to mind.  The space resembles a living room clad with artwork, vintage signage, a faux-stone fireplace, collectibles, an abacus calculator, a traffic light, and a meditation fountain.  Dr. Greg, as he is referred to by his students and colleagues alike, calls this space “Mr. Rogers meets Dr. Frankenstein.”

Dr. Greg Bradley-Popovich

“I do this to make myself feel comfortable, but I also want a comfortable place for my students to congregate,” he said.  “In creating a home away from home, I find I can be more relaxed, organized, and productive in this environment.”

One theme that certainly stands out when visiting Dr. Greg’s office is his fondness of ‘The Incredible Hulk.’

“I am here because of ‘The Incredible Hulk’,” Dr. Greg said, smiling.  “When I was eight, my uncle brought me an autograph of Lou Ferrigno (the original ‘Incredible Hulk’), and I immediately knew I wanted to do something with muscles.”

From that moment, Dr. Greg knew he had a career in the sciences.  At age 16, he started lifting weights and never stopped.

“It completely altered the trajectory of my life.  For an exercise scientist, it is not sufficient to take an interest solely in exercise,” he said.  “You need an interest in science.  Exercise science is a logical extension of medical science.”

The Clarksburg native currently serves as associate professor of exercise science and athletic training and director of the human performance laboratory at West Virginia Wesleyan College.  However, in addition to his educational practices, Dr. Greg is also the operator of The Diet Doc Clarksburg franchise, where he provides weight loss and performance nutrition counseling services.

For Dr. Greg, the marrying of both positions is necessary, as he often utilizes real-life health scenarios from The Diet Doc in his classes.

“My work is complementary,” Dr. Greg stated.  “I am able to take real patient scenarios and use them as case studies in class.  This way, students get a clinical application from a real situation.  Students often complete practicum hours at The Diet Doc, too.”

Dr. Greg advises a number of students with professional aspirations, ranging from physical therapy to physician assistants to those students aspiring to medical school.  His office is a shrine to his work and commitment to his students.  The space is decorated with artwork from his Psychology of Injury class.  Pain as an Art Form is a project on which Dr. Greg’s students work, creating works of art that symbolize human pain.  This is truly a testimony to Dr. Greg’s inordinate teaching style.

“I am extremely transparent and bring my passion for art and music into my classroom,” stated Dr. Greg.  “I pride myself in demonstrating relationships between disciplines for my students that at first may seem unrelated.”

However he gets the job done, Dr. Greg is revered among students at Wesleyan for his abstract thinking and extreme personal style.  In fact, Dr. Greg does not think of his students as just students, but more as potential associates.

“My students are my future colleagues,” Dr. Greg commented.  “The only difference is I have been alive longer and have had a chance to complete my academics.  We have a common interest, and that is the foundation for lifelong relationships with these students.”

In the classroom, Dr. Greg uses a mix of orthodox and un-orthodox methods to teach students about exercise science.

“Like a spiritual medium, I attempt to channel those contagiously instructive professors from my past while avoiding the trappings of more forgettable professors,” Dr. Greg commented.  “This perspective has evolved a bit due to my having a son with Asperger’s syndrome, which has enlightened me to the fact that not every student learns by the same method I do.  Therefore, my lectures tend to have a little something for the auditory-sequential learners as well as the visual-spatial learners, with copious hands-on demonstrations for the tactile learners, too.”

Such as launching granola bars from a giant spoon into the classroom, an exercise that is designed to teach students about portion control.  He is also known for making coffee and bringing breakfast to his classroom.

Dr. Greg also takes a liking to getting involved outside of the classroom, and he expects his students to do the same.  He has taken his students to visit the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston for eight tours, and he and his students participated in a Zombie Walk this past fall whose proceeds benefitted the West Virginia University Children’s Hospitals.  He is also well-known for the Halloween parties he throws each year for his basic and advanced level nutrition courses.  It is not all fun and games, however.  Dr. Greg uses the Halloween parties as a time to allow students to practice nutrition analysis of whatever treats students choose to make.

“My professing is theatrical,” he commented.  “Each performance should be memorable and get good reviews.  I like to marry fun with learning. I have no attendance policy, but I use class attendance as a barometer of how engaging I am making the material. If attendance wanes, I need to step up my game.”

An interdisciplinary clinician, speaker, and author in the health sciences, Dr. Greg possesses a diverse background that ranges from corporate fitness to NASA-funded orthopedic research spanning over 20 years.  Having specialized in spinal fitness and conservative spine management for the past 14 years, he has treated hundreds of sedentary and athletic patients with neck and back pain and was featured on the cover of Rehab Management for his expertise in the area.

As a freelance writer, Dr. Greg has authored over 75 articles on rehabilitation, exercise, nutrition and dietary supplements in magazines such as Men’s Health Muscle, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle and Fitness.  Additionally, he has published several scholarly articles in a variety of peer-reviewed science and professional journals.  Dr. Greg is a contributing author to the landmark texts Sports Supplements and Kettlebells: Past, Present, and Future and is co-creator of the strength-training system Weapons of Mass ConstructionTM.

Dr. Greg has received national awards from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American Physical Therapy Association, by which he has recognized with its highest honor for a graduating physical therapy scholar.  In 2008, he was named among the “Top 50” exercise professionals in the country according to Men’s Fitness magazine.

Dr. Greg holds dual master’s degrees in exercise physiology and human nutrition from West Virginia University as well as a doctor of physical therapy degree (DPT) with honors from Creighton University in Omaha, NE.

For more information on the School of Exercise Science, please contact Dr. Greg at Bradley_g@wvwc.edu or Rae Emrick, director, at emrick_r@wvwc.edu.