College · health · Prudenfit

What an Exercise Science Major Is Not

What a Exercise Science student is NOT (also: what a personal trainer can’t do)

This post in inspired by the common questions I get asked and expected to know when people realize what I study in college. Honestly I’m able to answer a lot of their questions, but I’m not always the most appropriate person to ask. Exercise Science is associated and tied to a lot of things, but it is not all-encompassing. I just wanted to define some things that an ESM (Exercise Science Major) is NOT:

1. A Personal Trainer (necessarily). Both ESMs and personal trainers study the same things and have similar knowledge, so yes I believe an ESM can somewhat easily attain their Personal Training certification. But there it is: Personal Training is a certification, not a degree. To be certified, one just has to pass a written exam based on a single textbook. To get an exercise science degree, it’s 120 credit hours of studies covering health, fitness, physical activity, motivation, energy systems, muscles and joints, nutrition, injuries, physical testing, applied physiology and biomechanics. A personal training textbook covers almost all of these, but not as in-depth. I’d say that ESM is heavily focused on the science, and Personal training is focused the application.

2. A Nutritionist or Dietitian. As much as fitness is a part of health, the other component of physical health (nutrition) cannot be ignored. Nutrition is addressed in most of my “application” classes, and I even had a whole semester of “Nutrition & Metabolism in Sport”. Beyond knowing the basics of macro nutrients, calories, and dietary strategies, an ESM looks into nutrient timing, protein protein protein, and what types of food fuel what type/times of activity. They are a fantastic resource, and they know a lot more about food than their friends (unless friends with a dietitian major). But while they can give you information about food, then cannot tell you what to eat. They can help you make decisions based on your goals or questions, but it is “beyond the scope of practice” to assign diets or create meal plans. So, please don’t ask us what you should eat for dinner, or if it’s “okay” if you eat dessert. Ask for suggestions or education 🙂

3. An Athletic Trainer. Athletic Training is a completely different degree from Exercise Science. AT focuses on preventing and treating injuries, and managing the risks of athletic activity (particularly team sports). An ESM might know a little about taping or caring for an injury…but I wouldn’t count on us. Common Questions That I don’t like: My Knee hurts, what should I do? This is popping, should I go to the doctor?

Of course, if we want to know about something beyond us we turn to someone more qualified to answer, and maybe that person is our ESM friend. Although I welcome those and am able to answer most of the questions, I still get asked some bad ones. (I won’t say “stupid” questions) I think I could make a post just of those “can I drink Dr Pepper all day, but if I’m skinny it’s healthy right?”s to be humorous, but I believe it’s better for me to offer education on the differences in fields of study.



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