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(Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Exercise science program gains national recognition

The exercise science option in the Fresno State department of kinesiology was recently acknowledged by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as one of the few “educationally recognized programs” in the country.

Kinesiology has four options, including physical education, sports administration, athletic training and exercise science, said Dr. Mark Baldis, coordinator of the exercise science option.

He said that of the four options, exercise science is the biggest with more than half of all the kinesiology majors.

Exercise science majors usually go into either the health and fitness industry or into the clinical and medical field, Baldis said.

Fresno State’s exercise science program is one of about 50 schools worldwide to be given this recognition, Baldis said.

The NSCA is one of the two major organizations within the exercise science option and is a worldwide organization that primarily certified personal trainers as well as tactical strength and conditioning coaches.

Baldis said the exercise science program applied for the NSCA recognition, which consisted of curriculum, course and syllabus reviews.

“The NSCA then came back and said that we had met their standard for what’s called an ‘educational recognition program,’” Baldis said. “Our program teaches all of the content areas and covers all the material necessary for any one of the NSCA’s certifications.”

Baldis said some of the highest-level courses exercise science students take include fitness and wellness, exercise physiology, biomechanics, clinical exercise physiology and performance-related fitness.

Upon graduation, Baldis said exercise science students should be able to take and pass any of the NSCA certifications and be recognized worldwide with that certification.

Rafael Martinez, a senior in the exercise science option, said he plans to go for a master’s degree after graduating and becoming a strength and conditioning coach for a Division I university.

“I’m planning to take the certification for the strength and conditioning from [the NSCA],” Martinez said.

Dr. Scott Sailor, chair of the department of kinesiology, said he thought the recognition from the NSCA was terrific for the department.

“It really helps us stand out in the country as an institution that really prepares students to enter that industry in strength conditioning,” Sailor said.

Prior to the recognition, Sailor said the department had done a great job at preparing students to be leaders in the field of kinesiology.

“Getting the recognition from NSCA really gives us kind of a national exposure of that great work that our faculty had been doing over the years anyway,” Sailor said.

He said the exercise science option was distinct because it prepares students to enter professional programs in areas such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, or for students to go on to become biomechanists and exercise physiologists.

Having that recognition from the NSCA also had benefits for students, such as easy access to certifications and discounts, Sailor said.

Martinez said he was not surprised by Fresno State’s exercise science program’s national recognition.

“It’s a great thing,” Martinez said. “We actually have a good faculty, and they’re very knowledgeable, and most of them are certified by [the NSCA] as well,” Martinez said.

For students who are thinking of attending Fresno State for this option, Baldis said the recognition was a potential draw.

“If this is the career path that you might want to take, Fresno State is obviously a school you might want to go to,” Baldis said. “We can guarantee that we will provide you all the information that you need throughout your years here.”

Baldis said the kinesiology department was hoping to make the exercise science option into an impacted program starting in fall 2017, setting the standards higher for students who want to enter that option.

The exercise science option is one of the fastest-growing emphases in the California State University system, Sailor said.