Exercise science grad explains role of personal trainer

Before John Houser graduated from Youngstown State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, he had to learn the complex intricacies of personal training — a program requirement.

“I really enjoyed this experience because it deals with not only exercise, but the nutritional aspect of health, which is vital,” Houser said.

During the fall semester, YSU’s exercise science program boasted more than 430 students. Around 200 of them intend to pursue physical therapy degrees after completing their undergraduate coursework.

Personal trainers can create personalized exercise and diet plans to help others achieve their health and fitness goals. They often work individually with clients in the gym, provide detailed instructions on different exercises and recommend appropriate workout routines.

As part of his coursework, Houser had to find participants willing to let him create fitness assessments — or personalized prescriptions for health and fitness, based upon their goals and capabilities — for them. The first step involved testing, he said.

“I had to measure things like their [Body Mass Index]; their body composition, which tells the percentage of fat they have; and their waist-to-hip ratio, which determines the amount of fat they have in the middle part of their bodies,” Houser said. “Having a lot of fat there puts them at risk for cardiovascular diseases.”

Houser also gauged participants’ cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility.

The final packet included all of the participant’s measurements and the category that the individual fell into. A detailed exercise regimen, based upon the participant’s goals, was also included; the exercise prescriptions consisted of various exercises in aerobic training, resistance training and flexibility.

“So many people aren’t lifting the right way,” Houser said.