If you are interested in going to fitness school, you may feel more prepared to know that you will take most likely take some combination of three different types of classes: prerequisites, core classes, and internship experiences.
If you are only pursuing a certificate diploma, you may graduate in a year or less. In order to obtain a certificate in such a short period of time, you will most likely focus your studies entirely on courses related to health and fitness. However, other students choose instead to earn an associate’s degree, which can put them at a distinct advantage when job seeking after graduation. Associate’s degrees typically involve more comprehensive coverage of one concentration, such as exercise science or kinesiology. They also require students to complete a certain number of prerequisite classes, which are essentially courses that students are required to take before enrolling in certain upper-level classes in their major. These might include topics such as English, communication, foreign language, history, social science, natural science, and/or math. These classes serve a number of benefits, perhaps most notably to prepare you in a fundamental way for life beyond college, and to give you the building blocks of knowledge from which you can branch out into a number of careers. Classes like English, communication, foreign language, and math will help you no matter what field you go into after graduation. And other classes, like history and the social sciences, will give you a starting place if you choose to go back to college for a liberal arts degree. Lastly, classes like biology and chemistry will actually play an integral role in your future as a health professional, and you may find that your educational curriculum has more of an emphasis on these types of classes than on others.
At some point in your college education you will start to take classes directly related to your major. These may include courses such as medical terminology, nutrition, exercise therapy, fitness for seniors, strength training and conditioning, and youth fitness. You might also take classes that will prepare you to branch out into health/fitness management one day, such as customer service principles, effective communication, professional development, ethics and law, and entrepreneurship. These types of courses will also be useful if you decide to be a self-employed trainer or instructor one day, in which case you will be solely responsible for the evolution and success of your business, which includes marketing your services and retaining clientele. While your prerequisites might be similar regardless of your major, your core classes will be entirely dependent on the major you have chosen, where classes for kinesiology majors will differ from those for physiology majors, and exercise science from sports medicine.
Many associate’s degree programs also allow students to practice their newfound knowledge in an internship setting, often by spending time working at a health club, recreation center, or other healthcare center. If you are only earning a certificate, you may not be given this opportunity. Some schools, depending on your major, also offer opportunities to take classes in practical environments, such as research labs or in hospitals or doctors’ offices. Not only do such experiences give you more hands-on knowledge that will be beneficial in your future career, but internships sometimes lead to permanent job opportunities.