Staff Spotlight: Paul Novak
Our participants who have taken either of our Spine Ball classes are very familiar with one of our most experienced and versatile instructors, Paul Novak. We're delighted to introduce Paul and his many talents to you in this issue's Staff Spotlight.
Paul has taught a wide variety of classes since he started on our staff nearly 15 years ago. Currently he teaches both the Spine Ball Strength & Flexibility and Spine Ball Core Combo (Thursdays, 6:45pm) classes. These spine ball classes focus on developing core strength. Paul emphasizes how everyone, regardless of age or physical ability, can benefit from a stronger and more functional core. In addition to his long history teaching spine ball classes, Paul has taught tai chi, qigong, and various forms of yoga for us over the years as well.
Outside of our facility Paul has a long history of teaching for a variety of facilities/organizations in the community. Currently Paul teaches fitness classes for the following:
- UW Health Comprehensive Cancer Center
- University of Wisconsin Continuing Education
- MSCR (Madison School Community Recreation) Goodman Rotary
- Middleton Senior Center
That's a lot of instructing. Leading fitness classes only scratches the surface of Paul's interests, experiences, and talents. Looking beyond the fitness instructor reveals quite a picture.
Paul was born in Buffalo, NY but grew up in Greenfield, WI (near Milwaukee). He attended college at the University of Minnesota (Bachelors in Zoology/Pre Med), The Johns Hopkins University (Masters in Education), and the University of Wisconsin (PhD in Education Policy). He has lived in Madison for over 45 years.
One of Paul's interests and talents is bread making. He has taught bread making classes at Madison College (formerly MATC) for many years. Paul has been the chief bread baker at prominent Madison restaurants and has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio's The Larry Meiller Show. When asked about his favorite bread Paul reservedly states "being of Polish descent, I do have an affinity for the rye". When pressed to name another favorite he speaks highly of the sourdough potato bread as well!
Paul is also an enthusiast of international music. He routinely hosts "On the Horizon", a radio program dedicated to International Music (a genre sometimes referred to as "World Music"). You can check Paul out on WORT (FM 89.9) on every third Sunday afternoon from 3–5pm.
Paul also finds time for other hobbies as well. He enjoys gardening – specifically raising perennials (lilies and day lilies are favorites). He enjoys reading and listening to many genres of music. Paul has a first degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do/American Sport Karate. He also enjoys riding his motorcycle (a "rather large" BMW – and he always wears a helmet when he rides!).
As you can see, Paul has quite the diverse collection of talents/experiences. We hope that you get the chance to meet him and see for yourself what makes him such a unique and valuable part of our staff.
Get to Know Paul
Get to know a little more about Paul through his responses to the following:
Why did you decide to become a fitness instructor: My tai chi teacher asked me to take over his classes, then Nicky Plaut had me sub for her, then the Goodman Brothers suggested I teach for their program, and so forth....
What do you like most about working here: Great participants and fellow workers
Hometown: Greenfield, WI
Current residence: Madison, WI
Family: Son (artist and web designer), daughter (physician)
Favorite Music: Blues, Greek rembetika
Favorite Books: Anything by Douglas Adams
Hobbies: Reading, gardening, martial arts, riding motorcycle, bread making, brewing beer
Favorite Foods: Grilled cheese sandwich
Favorite Beverages: Many craft beers, retsina, root beer
Favorite Vacation Spots (thus far): Hammock
Favorite Movies: Meaning of Life, Brazil
Favorite Athletes: Warren Spahn, Jackie Chan, Jet Li
People I Admire: Elizabeth Warren, Bill Moyers, Russ Feingold
Something very few people know about me that I'm willing to divulge here: Remember, I'm a Scorpio…