If Sitting at a Desk All Day Isn't Good Enough For You, Consider This...

sports science and managment
There are sports career paths that combine intellect and physicality
Movement has become an oxymoron in our world.

The majority of our days are spent at work staring at a computer screen where we have to remind ourselves to engage in physical activity, mumbling under our breath, ‘I should really take the stairs today.’

When we aren't working, we sleep, we eat and if we can find the time and energy, we get our heart racing.

For many, this scenario isn't good enough, this sedentary lifestyle lacks inspiration or any sense of accomplishment, which leads some to seek out something more.

“I have always been a physical moving person,” says University of Western States Adjunct Professor Pamela Gray Verhulst. “In 1979, the only career option for someone like me was in Physical Education teaching. But I was not passionate about K-12 Physical Education, only the physical part of it.

“Since that time, options for physical careers have expanded into Kinesiology, Biomechanics, Health & Wellness, Physical Education, Human Performance, Exercise Physiology, and Exercise Science.”

“We are now growing in Exercise Science and Sport, Sport Coaching, and Sport Management.  For the last 30 years, we have emerged and evolved in the Study of Movement, which started out as Physical Education, and has evolved into Health and Wellness, the way people live.”

The options are out there for people who want physicality to be expressed in their career, not just their play. Amazingly, in a seemingly tactile profession, online schools have become an increasingly popular option for people who need flexibility in their schedule while pursuing their dreams.

To find out more about the potential career paths in exercise science, here is more with Professor Verhulst:

When you think of wellness, fitness, coaching and management those disciplines seem hands on and tactile - how does the online program at University of Western States fully prepare students for real world activities?

Verhulst: I did not believe in online movement disciplines.

In the late 1990’s, Physical Education began in a Florida online school. I was like, “are you kidding me?” I did a pre-doctoral course presentation on the problems with online physical education. I was someone who always tried to save Physical Education.

With that said, I had to evolve and find a way that I could teach “physically”.

university of western states sports science
The University of Western States has a physical campus in Oregon and critically acclaimed online programs
The UWS administration has been fully engaged in their efforts building the Sport and Exercise Science Online programs. The experience that they bring to the table explodes the online Masters in Exercise and Sports degree program; the faculty involved is faculty that have been both in the classroom as well as online.

As a faculty member, we are developing the courses and teaching them, which makes the learning more passionate and hands on.

Our curriculum, mentorship, and activities in the online forum bring a new level than simply adding a sentence in a blog.

We are bringing to the online forum what it takes to have great success in the UWS Masters of Exercise and Sports Degree program and your career. While students can learn on their own time, they are more excited and engaged to researching their projects and sharing them with the rest of their student colleagues, gaining experience at the same time from each other.  UWS and their programs have emerged in a short time and have shown overall success.

There are many online and traditional colleges available to students who want to pursue a career in Exercise and Sports Science, why should they choose University of Western States?

Verhulst: As a faculty member, I believe that UWS brings current and strong educational values and concepts to their programs. Students choosing UWS will be involved in the most current concepts and learning tools that bring them to the highest levels in their career.

What is also very cool about UWS is that faculty and staff are improving and implementing current trends in their degree program offerings. The President, administration, and mission statement values, makes sure that the student leaving their degree program is ready to walk into their career choice.

They also value the alumni and become a valuable place to recognize after they leave.

The University of Western States is a fast growing worldwide Health, Wellness, and Sport and Exercise Science face-to-face and online university.

You've had many students over the years, what do you think are the main career goals for students entering the ESS field?

Verhulst: Well, this is tough because of all the choices that this degree program can expand out from.

Here is the deal, first, you have to see the passion for each student; what will they be best at and enjoy the rest of their lives. The career goals should be focused on the health and wellness areas, such as sport fitness, sports therapy, exercise fitness and health, and elite sport performance, either as a coach or sport agent.

If it is about salary, professional sports are growing.

If it is about passion, managing or owning a fitness center tied with therapy may be an answer.

university of western states pamela verhulst
Professor Verhulst is an accomplished runner and , which increases her ability to relate to her students
It is sad, but Physical Education is dying out and is waiting to enhance with wellness. I believe K-12 Physical Education is on its way out and I would not direct a student to go specifically into this area.

Although, education is not out the door if a career goal is in higher education with an emphasis in sport and exercise science. This would take more than a bachelor’s degree. There are many students that I currently know who are building their own business in sport and exercise science because they know it better. Fitness center opportunities are way too risky to stay in as a full-time career. Everyone is doing it, you have to build a “personal training” cliental, and it is getting very expensive to keep up all the certifications beyond the degree.

Fitness centers are turning over at a high rate, expensive to keep up, and most of the general population cannot afford this luxury. Also, fitness DVD’s and the internet have turned people away from gyms and fitness centers; everyone can do it at home and learn to train themselves.

You teach a Masters program - why is a Masters degree an important step for a career in Exercise and Sports Science?

Verhulst: For many years, a college degree was important. I was in a time that you could not get a job without a Bachelor’s degree. Eventually, a Bachelor’s degree was not enough and you would have to rapidly move into a Master’s degree.

A Bachelor degree today in this career discipline is not enough. The Bachelor degree now is a “base” to a career specific Masters degree.

Also, a time back, students would go to a two-year school to see if they liked college, knowing that they would have to move into a four-year institution.  The Bachelor degree is now the two-year degree, with most students needing to go right into a Masters.

As a student grows into their career, a Masters degree becomes the elite career person. A student becomes career specific with a Masters degree. They become a “specialist”. In addition, because of the many ESS specialty areas that a student can earn, a Masters will pinpoint that area.

I believe a Masters in ESS shows who you are, what you know, what you’re passionate in, and what you can bring to others.

What is the common trait or strength of students that you have seen go on to great success?

Verhulst: Work ethic by far. In addition, an innate ability to do what they do. I believe these two traits or strengths go together.

If a student knows what they want and it is not a “job” to them, their success is great. If they work at what they want out of life and it does not become a job, they will have great success.

Work ethic is often related to internal determination it comes with the job if you love what you do.
By Brian Clapp | November 11, 2014
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