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Photo of supervised workout in the SUNY Plattsburgh Fitness Center 

Unveiling the New Fitness and Wellness Leadership Graduate Program

By Matt McDonald
April 2016

The health and fitness industry is one of America’s fastest growing—one in six Americans bought a gym membership last year, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates nearly 10 percent job growth at fitness and recreational sports centers by 2024.

None of this is news to Ken Baldwin.

Industry Need

Baldwin, associate professor of sport and wellness, engineered SUNY Plattsburgh’s fitness and wellness leadership undergraduate program in 2009 based on research data he gathered from industry professionals beginning in 1998. He says trainers across the country told him about weaknesses in their new employees, recent graduates from degree programs.

“The data that came back was unbelievable,” Baldwin said. Trainer after trainer said their new employees had knowledge of physiology and anatomy, but they didn’t know how to communicate, he says. Because they hadn’t done internships or taken strength training courses, they weren’t prepared to help clients.

“People can work full-time jobs and still complete this program.”

In other words, they had the book smarts—but not the gym smarts.

“It validates the structure of our undergrad program and this new graduate program.”

Built for Jobs

While four different clinicals and personal training are built into the undergraduate program, the fitness and wellness leadership master’s program—offered completely online with an optional internship—meets the varying needs of its students.

“It’s for two groups of people,” Baldwin said: Fitness or medical professionals looking to incorporate personal training into their work or who have certifications but need more education to expand their careers, and people currently working or studying in other disciplines.

“So many people are into health and fitness and they’re sitting at a desk and they really don’t like it,” he said. “They say, ‘Wow I really like health and fitness, and I want to help other people.’ It’s a huge market.”

“People can work full-time jobs and still complete this program.”

Program Rollout

The master’s program, which includes varied coursework from marketing and accounting to leadership, prepares students to become leaders in the fitness industry, said Baldwin. Graduates will be able to start their own businesses or become managers and directors at existing ones.

“There shouldn’t be an area that an employer is looking for that these students can’t do,” he said.

Applications are being accepted for the fall semester, and the program will continue to develop and accept new students throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.

 

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