What does it take to be a successful fitness and wellness professional? What skills and abilities are needed to achieve greatness? How can collegiate exercise science programs help develop these skills?

Dr. Barry McGlumphy, who founded the graduate-level exercise science program at PennWest California and has served on the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) advisory board, discusses why he chose this field and how he guides the next generation of fitness, wellness, and health care professionals.

When he is not teaching at PennWest, McGlumphy works in rehabilitation, injury prevention and injury treatment with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. He resides in Venetia, Pa., with his wife, Jami, and children, Reilly and Cole.

Why did you choose to become an athletic trainer and eventually a college professor?

I choose to be an athletic trainer and educator because I enjoyed interacting with people and have especially relished the challenge of preparing individuals for the highest level of performance.

What type of student/personality makes the perfect candidate for exercise science?

A person who wants to be the best professional they can be and is willing to learn 24/7, whether it be formal education – like that offered by PennWest Exercise Science programs, certification courses offered by NASM or live weekend workshops. Our most successful students have a positive attitude, want to learn as much as they can, and ultimately want to impart their knowledge to train and educate clients and patients.

Why is the educational element of this field so crucial?

In our fitness and wellness professions, there is too much reliance on education and learning without fully understanding the scientific basis or research support for what we do every day. A formal education – like the PennWest Exercise Science degrees – not only provides that base knowledge for everything a fitness professional does, but also adds credibility to who they are. This is very important in order to gain trust of clients, but also ultimately helps fitness professionals market themselves better and earn higher salaries.

What has been the highlight and/or your proudest moments as an educator and as athletic trainer?

My career has allowed me to apply my passion for fitness and health improvement in collegiate athletic settings, youth sports, professional sports and beyond. Being a college professor for a nationally recognized program that I created here at PennWest has allowed me – and all of our faculty – to share best-practice education to thousands of students over the past 20 years creating an amazing network of program graduates. Most of these graduates are leaders in the field and have high level, influential positions in fitness and health care. This is the most rewarding part of my career. Two of our alumni are responsible for the sport performance programs for this year’s Super Bowl and World Series championship teams. My students’ success at such a high level means I have been successful.

How does your athletic training field work – in collegiate and professional sports – inform what you teach in the classroom?

I have worked at NFL summer training camps and a variety of games during the season for over 15 years – including several years with the Philadelphia Eagles and 10 years with the Kansas City Chiefs. Our athletic training and strength & conditioning staff work daily with the KC Chiefs players focusing on rehabilitation, injury prevention, injury treatment and corrective exercise. We also focus much of our time on overall sport performance training and sport science innovations with the goal of preparing our players to be the best they can be. The past several years were particularly successful with our player care, sport performance strategies and injury prevention approaches leading to our recent Super Bowl win. Much of what I see and learn when working with the Chiefs is taught in our classrooms at PennWest, whether it be nutrition, sport psychology, performance training, corrective exercise or other sport science interventions. I have the advantage of seeing all of these techniques applied to the best athletes, at the highest level of activity, which allows me to share unique case studies and sport performance protocols with our PennWest Exercise Science students.

What impact has the NASM had on your career and the students you work with?

My experience with NASM spans over the past 20 years. I have served on advisory boards for NASM and have attended NASM conferences. Because of my strong partnership with NASM and PennWest being a premiere academic provider for NASM, our academic degrees have become the nationally recognized educational programs they have been for almost two decades. NASM and PennWest, (formerly Cal U) have had a very symbiotic relationship since both organizations have a tremendous passion for high-level education and preparing students for great career success.

What are some of the strengths of the PennWest Global Online exercise science concentrations?

The biggest strength of our concentrations is the variety of options and the evidence-based research that supports the content presented to students. The concentrations include ten distinct options including Sport Performance Enhancement, Nutrition, Tactical Strength & Conditioning, Wellness & Fitness, Rehabilitation Science, Wellness Coaching, Applied Sport Science, Group Fitness Leadership, Advanced Golf Performance, and Sport Psychology. Students graduating from our exercise science programs work in a variety of employment settings, including large and small fitness centers, sports medicine centers, performance training facilities, private companies, college sports, professional sports, military and law enforcement settings and a variety of other areas. Many graduates work as sport performance trainers, personal trainers, fitness instructors, sports coaches, athletic trainers and a range of other professions. The educational goal of all of our concentrations is to learn applicable techniques that can be used with a variety of populations, including athletes, fitness clients, weekend warriors, youth athletes and others interested in improving overall health and daily performance.

What advice do you have for students considering this field?

Students entering our program need to be good time managers, have a passion for success and have defined career goals. Since most of our students are fanatical about what they do, they are successful. Our programs at PennWest teach students how to be very well-rounded fitness and/or health professionals. Students will be very successful in the field when exploring additional, formal educational degrees such as ours. For example, our programs at PennWest focus on a variety of topics, including business mastery, entrepreneurship, leadership and a variety of exercise science topics, including exercise physiology, human movement science, nutrition, corporate wellness and other topics vital to success.