MINNEAPOLIS:  Students planning to pursue a career in personal fitness training have a new option at Globe/MSB College, who, along with Purdue University, is one of the first colleges in the nation to offer a four-year degree with a concentration in personal training.

The fitness industry is a rapidly changing industry. Baby boomers are reaching retirement years and more people are turning to personal fitness trainers to design exercise programs around health based issues, serve as guides to deal with obesity and obtain healthy lifestyles," said Keith Spennewyn, Department Head and author for the MSB/Globe personal fitness training degree. "The industry and need for personal fitness trainers has exploded. As a result, it has become easier for anyone, even without the necessary credentials, to acquire a certification because there is no nationally recognized set of standards for performance, ethics, certification, or licensure. What is even more concerning is the lack of real credentialing of certification programs that are in existence. Some programs have opted for third party accreditation, but these programs only credential the examination, not the content of the courses. That is not to say that these course are bad, but it does create gaps in the professionalism of the term certified. College accreditations ensure a quality education of its students from text to test. College accreditations are a consumer protection organization approved by the Secretary of Education as a reliable authority, they also allow students to obtain various Federal Student Aid program.
MSB/Globe, a 130 year old college expects to set the standard for educating students with the necessary and preferred knowledge, skills, competencies and background for personal fitness trainers. Because students will be learning from an academically based fitness model, they will learn the skills and expertise necessary to work with a client's integrated health care program approach," said Spennewyn. Ultimately this will lead to a form of consumer protection that will lower the incidence of possible litigation and provide better outcomes for those trained.
Personal trainers are no longer responsible for simply exercising people in a health club setting Spennewyn said. They now need to understand the complexities of working with individuals who have been physician referred. These individuals may be on poly pharmaceutical therapy, recovering from surgery or battling risk factors for cardiovascular disorders. Personal trainers, who were once confined to healthy populations, now find themselves branching out into areas they know little about-the high risk markets. Where once personal trainers designed body building and athletic programs, they now find themselves working with physicians to properly initiate safe and efficacious programming for the not so healthy markets. As a result, we not only find trainers in health clubs, but also in commercial, wellness and even medical settings. They own their own fitness clubs, bring training door to door and can be found visiting senior homes too.
In November 2006, MSB/Globe College was approved by the Accrediting Council for Independent  Colleges and Schools to change its health and exercise science AAS degree, and begin offering the Bachelor of Science program to students pursuing a health and fitness degree in personal training. MSB/Globe began classes in January 2007. "The health and fitness major already focused on kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, basic health studies, fitness evaluation and program management. In addition, the new program concentration covers topics related to aging, cardiovascular rehabilitation, human anatomy, risk factors, injury management, nutrition and weight management and hands on personal training experience."
The personal fitness trainer concentration will include several courses on personal training education. Students also will participate in hands on courses where they will learn to evaluate, train and work in post rehabilitation programming of special populations. The externship will include working in a commercial health club setting, cardiac rehabilitation, senior fitness, children's fitness and worksite wellness. Students will be prepared for certifications from National Academy of Sports Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine or National Strength Conditioning Association to compliment their degree.
The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that personal fitness training will be one of the fastest growing professions in the next few years. The premier health club membership organization, IHRSA, reported a 319% increase in memberships for the 55+ market over the past decade. Dr Paul Zane Pilser, economist, has listed wellness as part of the next trillion dollar market. This in mind, anticipating the increased need for personal trainers with appropriate academic training will result in safer and more effective outcomes for both individual and public overall.
Other universities offer a degree in exercise science, which is similar to personal fitness training, but personal fitness training emphasizes personal training while health and exercise programs emphasize team sports and coaching. Ultimately, this separates the graduates as being field ready to personal train versus having a background in fitness related topics Spennewyn said.
Personal fitness trainers currently can seek certification through multiple avenues. Many certifications are online and offer no practical knowledge in personal training, Spennewyn said. Some trainers simply print a business card with a title and begin training. Of the major certification programs, good or bad, most certify based on participation in weekend courses or on passing a test based on a single manual. No matter how good the book is, it is difficult if not impossible to educate someone over a weekends worth of materials. In contrast, a four year degreed student will receive knowledge on working with all populations and in multiple settings and multiple age groups. Trainers will learn proper procedure for analyzing risk factors, injuries or balance and posture problems. They will understand how to correct those problems and how to network with health care specialists for the best possible outcomes for the client. College graduates also have more career choices allowing them to move beyond the physical application of exercise programming into management and corporate wellness.
MSB/Globe College has about 300 students enrolled in the program in seven campuses throughout Minnesota and Utah. MSB College was established in 1877 and Globe in 1885. Together they are two of the oldest colleges in Minnesota with one of the most progressive and modern program in the United States.
Keith Spennewyn is a 27 year industry veteran with experience running over 47 health clubs and creating an 11 million dollar per year personal training industry. Spennewyn, who holds a masters degree, has written many exercise and training texts, worked with world champion athletes and considers his authorship of the personal training bachelors degree his most prized achievement.
For more information on MSB/Globe log on to www.msbcollege.edu  or call Don Baker for more information at 952-345-1200.
Keith Spennewyn can be contacted at kspennewyn@msbcollege.edu