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Real clients help Exercise Science students hone skills

Students Ian Lowell and Allison MacAulay analyze their client Mitch Davis as he runs on a treadmill. Dr. Melissa Knight-Maloney observes (right).

Students Ian Lowell and Allison MacAulay analyze their client Mitch Davis as he runs on a treadmill. Dr. Melissa Knight-Maloney observes (right).

The best way to learn is through real-world situations. So if you're studying exercise science, then "real world" means real people.

That's what FLC’s Exercise Science Department's "Exercise Testing and Prescription Client Project" delivers: volunteer "clients" for groups of students to actually test, measure, analyze, and develop exercise regimens for.

"This experience has definitely given me the chance to apply my education to a real-world experience," says Senior Exercise Science Major Allison MacAulay. "My goal is to work in the athletics, sports, and fitness industry, with the hopes of working with collegiate or professional sports athletes. Therefore, being able to assess clients, effectively communicate information to them, and confidently design programs is something that I feel will be very useful in pursuing my dreams."

The "client project" is the major component of ES 310, "Exercise Testing and Prescription." Groups of students are assigned clients drawn from a pool of FLC faculty, staff, and community volunteers, whom students then assess in the areas of aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, body composition, and flexibility. Then they work together to analyze and use that data to develop individualized exercise programs based on each client's goals. There are 30 students and 11 volunteer clients participating for the Winter 2012 term.

"This class began as a follow-up to our Exercise Physiology course," says Exercise Science Professor Melissa Knight-Maloney, who developed the client project. "As time went on I began to realize through student evaluation feedback that, as undergraduates, students actually need more applied hands-on opportunities."

"Through this hands-on experience I've come to understand the diversity among clients," says Ian Lowell, a Senior Exercise Science major from Aspen, who will be awarded an Exercise Science degree at the April 28 Commencement. "I learned how important it is to understand each subject’s wants and needs. Each and every person is different, and when prescribing a health and exercise plan, this must be something that is taken into account."

"The most important thing I've learned is that communication and preparation are the main keys to success," says MacAulay, who also will be graduating on April 28. "It taught me how to be able to effectively communicate with someone who does not have the background that I have. And it gave me the opportunity to learn how to be prepared in real situations you face dealing with real clients."

Learn more about Exercise Science at Fort Lewis College.

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