Gateway Community College’s Exercise Science and Wellness Program has been awarded certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Education Recognition Program (ERP). GCC Program Director Todd Degree said he was very pleased that Gateway’s program was recognized by the association, one of the top two certifying organizations in the nation, coming at a time when the fitness field is experiencing explosive growth.
“For them to say `You are doing everything we say a program should be doing’ means a lot to us and for our students and our potential students,” Degree said. The certification not only adds prestige to GCC’s Exercise Science and Wellness Associate Degree, it enables Gateway to host national strength and conditioning events and will help the college create more transfer agreements with four-year institutions.
As America’s population ages and those aging are living longer and more active lives and with the spotlight on the obesity epidemic and related diseases, Degree said the need for fitness specialists is at an all-time high. Personal training and fitness related jobs are expected to experience a 24 percent growth rate through 2020, Degree said. He said more and more employers – and individuals - are seeing the benefits of wellness and personal fitness programs. “It is cheaper and better long term to make people well,” he said.
Gateway's Exercise Science and Wellness Associate Degree program prepares students for employment in the health and fitness industry and provides a basis for professional advancement. Students blend classroom knowledge with hands-on experience to build an all-encompassing approach to health and wellness. GCC’s program focuses on exercise science, nutrition and business, putting students in the best possible position to be successful upon graduation, Degree said.
Graduates may enter the work force directly as personal trainers, group exercise leaders, community or corporate wellness program coordinators or equipment salespersons. Others may continue their education in physical therapy, exercise physiology and athletic training, to name just a few paths. The program has a full transfer agreement with Southern Connecticut State University's Human Performance program, allowing a smooth transition into earning a four year degree.
Sheila B. Solernou, MSN, RN, GCC’s Allied Health Division director, congratulated Degree and the program on this prestigious recognition. “It's a great accomplishment for the Exercise Science and Wellness Program,” she said. “Any time one of our Gateway programs is recognized by a national organization such as the NSCA it shows the quality of work we do as a department and a college."