Health and Fitness Column

CVCC now offering fitness degree

By John Taylor | Aug 27, 2013
Photo by: File John Taylor.

Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory announced that they will offer a new associate’s degree in health and fitness science. The two-year program will begin this fall, and Jeff Moore, who previously served as college athletic director, has been appointed as the department head.
College President  Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw  stated the program was created due to requests from local companies that expressed a need for educated exercise professionals in Western North Carolina.
“We worked closely with fitness and health-care institutions that focus on fitness and wellness to understand their work force needs and develop a degree to fill them,” said Hinshaw in a school press release. “That’s the essence of a higher education institution that is truly serving the needs of the community.”
The health and fitness science degree program is designed to provide students with the knowledge necessary for employment and expertise in the fitness and exercise industry. After their degree completion, students will develop skills in exercise science, the administration of fitness tests and health risk appraisals, specific exercise and fitness classes, and instructional techniques to utilize when using exercise equipment and facilities.
As part of the program, graduates may also earn an American College of Sports Medicine certification as a Certified Personal Trainer, one of the most respected certifications in the fitness industry.
I agree with President Hinshaw that this type of program is needed in Western North Carolina.
Neither A.B. Tech or Haywood Community College offer an associate’s degree in health and fitness, Western Carolina University only offers a degree in physical education, and while UNC-Asheville offers a bachelor’s degree in health and wellness, not everyone interested in pursuing this type of career can afford the costs associated with a four-year college program.
Though I would prefer a fitness expert possess a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree, I also believe that Catawba Valley’s two-year program could provide outstanding content for those aiming to become certified fitness professionals.
However, I would warn people interested in pursuing this program that the associate’s degree probably won’t increase your salary much. According to the American Council on Exercise, the average personal trainer earns between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, many of whom just possess a certification without a college degree.
But who knows, perhaps Western Carolina can produce the next Richard Simmons. He has a bachelor’s degree in art from Florida State, but did not receive his fitness training in the classroom environment.
At least graduates of Catawba Valley will received classroom training in their field, and as a result, will be in a better position to create “Sweating to the Oldies” for the new generation.