Vol 4 No 12
December, 2000
ISSN 1097-9743

The ASEPNewsletter is devoted to informative articles and news itmes about exercise physiology. It is a monthly magazine of news, opinions, exercise physiology professionals, and events that shape exercise physiology.  We welcome interested practitioners, researchers, and academicians to e-mail the Publisher their thoughts and ideas or respond directly online via the ASEP Public Forum.

January, 2001

Happy Holiday Season
The staff and Board of Directors of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists wish you a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season. We share your pride in the exercise physiology profession, and appreciate your continued commitment and support. You have helped ASEP to make great strides in the recent advancement of certification, accreditation, research, and education. Thank you for being a member.  Your support is greatly appreciated. 

Current Issues
What are the current issues?  Clearly, there are many important issues faced by ASEP members. As editor of the ASEPNewsletter, I believe our most pressing need is a Standards of Professional Practice document. What do you think?

"Thank You Matt"  -- Going the Extra Mile!

Several days ago I emailed Matthew G. Wattles, MS, the President of the Idaho Association of Exercise Physiologist to see how things were going.  Having been involved in different aspects of developing ASEP, it occurred to me that he may feel a bit unappreciated.  I didn't want him to think that he was all by himself and, no matter how slow change takes place, we have each other for support.  His email assured me that everything is O.K.  I was glad to hear it. 

Later, when talking with a student about ASEP, the student asked me why did Matt start the Idaho state association?  The short answer is because he wanted something better for exercise physiologists.  Other answers are obvious in his well-developed Internet pages.  He has posted several articles written in question and answer format.  They are very specific and informative.  Why did he do it?  Or, stated different, "What makes a person decide to take a risk and to create more work for him- or herself?"  From the exercise physiologist's point of view, what makes an exercise physiologist great?  What does it take to lead an organization? 

Matt would say he founded the state organization for exercise physiologists because "it made sense."  The belief that the centrally controlled, diversely managed, conglomerate approach to organizational design has exercise crippling control over exercise physiology has gone unchallenged for too long.  Matt believed that something needed to be done.  It made sense to him that exercise physiologists needed their own professional organization. 

Aside from the time and work it took to get the state organization on the Internet, he realized that it was possible to do something positive now rather than later.  After all, it didn't have to copy any particular mandate.  Matt was encouraged to create an affiliation with ASEP to find new solutions.  Working together is logical and should ensure the highest level of quality among professionals.  The results that we had hoped for, membership in particular, have been slow in coming, but successful leadership understands that many factors weigh into the equation.

A person has to have the guts to make a decision.  There was no press conferences, no speeches, and no special meetings with top leaders in the field.  Ultimately, it was Matt's decision to take the risk to found the organization.  The force behind it was his vision that exercise physiology is a profession that the healthcare community can buy into and believe in.  Instead of being pushed to the side, he wanted to facilitate communication and create possibilities.  His efforts have helped to define exercise physiology in Idaho.  He had to go on the offensive even when some colleagues kept their distance.  In my view, what Matt did took courage.

It takes courage to say to the world, "This is what I believe, and this is what I'm doing to get there."  There's no way around it.  Exercise physiologists have got to stand up for what they believe is important, just has Matt has done.  You've got to lead by example.  Maybe it is time that more exercise physiologists take the lead that Matt has demonstrated.  There are risks, of course, but there are benefits, too.  In this age of unreason, what we witnessed in Idaho is an uncommon alignment of ideas and beliefs with the ASEP model.  Increasingly, more exercise physiologists realize that ASEP and the state organizations like Idaho and Indiana show a maturity befitting the nature of professionals with complex problems that need answers. 

The other thing that is needed is passion.  It's essential to have.  An exercise physiologist with passion and a vision will walk the extra mile.  So, when I'm told that ASEP is weak on leadership, I know they haven't any idea of the passion in the hearts of the like of Matt.  He and others like him within ASEP can be trusted.  Their integrity speaks for them because their vision is embedded in their actions.  The net result is going to be greater interest in ASEP; an organization with an attitude of sincerity, honesty, and passion for genuine success of all exercise physiologists.  These are the underpinnings of our organization and, in a large way, a legacy of the scientific efforts and vision of the physical educators who came before us. 

Hence, why did Matt do what he did?  The answer is because he cares about exercise physiology.  He has demonstrated that by creating a way to market the profession through the Internet.  It is the measure of importance to a much underappreciated occupation of professionals, especially as it globalizes the strategy to manage the emerging profession. 

There was a time when the cause was different with emphasis on diversity in membership and, ultimately the struggle to develop research and publishing skills.  Today, the cause (i.e., the vision) is different.  It is about creating a common language among exercise physiologists that expands their collective thinking.  It is no longer an emphasis on conglomerate professionals who collectively reason through their challenges.  Instead, it about professionals in one organization who are accountable directly to each other for the development of exercise physiology.  This doesn't mean that the same professionals must give up their interests in other organizations, but it sure means that they take a second look at the issues and concerns within their profession. 

Beyond that, the key to building an enduring new medium in Idaho is believing that a single person can make a difference.  Matt has persevered.  That is critical.  He hasn't given up, and he is willing to take the steps necessary to get from here to there.  His efforts have the set the stage to create unprecendented opportunities for non-PhD exercise physiologists as leaders in the health, fitness, rehabilitation, and sports training.  And why not?  Don't exercise physiologists want to be leaders; people who help others get to the place they believe is impossible? 

You've got to respect the other person's ideas, especially when the ideas come from the heart.  There really is no going back to the sports medicine model of thinking. Everything is so much different from just a few years ago that, once you think you can do it own your own, the thinking makes the reality.  There is no going back.  Not now with energized and incredibly talented professionals who are working on behalf of ASEP and its members.  Leaders, like Matt, are attuned with the times.  It will take some effort, but then all you can do is the best you can given your time and resources. 

Equally important is the fact that a person's leadership can be simple and right, too.  Matt's work is about setting the ASEP goal up for everyone to see, develop a plan to get there, check and recheck on the progress towards the goal, and keeping communication open.  "Progress" is both defined as having finalized a document, and the implementation of the document.  Only then is it possible to quatify the commitment of the members and their part in the management process.  The test is how the members benefit from the new information or, for example, certification.  As long as the vision and goals are organized around the members' needs and core beliefs, it is possible for the organization to be a great one. 

The ASEP organization like the Idaho association is about sharing success. The new exercise physiology is about giving all exercise physiologists the opportunity to engage in the advancement of the profession.  Hence, the essence of what exercise physiology becomes in the next several years can be traced to shared decisions where, at the end of the day, everybody wins. "This means, yes, I understand you have a doctorate degree and that you are an exercise physiologist.  But, do you know that I'm an exercise physiologist too?  I am a non-PhD exercise physiologist. You said what? I'm not!  Well, maybe you should join the 21st Century way of thinking. If non-PhD exercise physiologists feel valued, then all exercise physiologists have a much stronger profession. Failure in not thinking beyond the sports medicine model is to continue the process of decline and decay."

The question is "What's good for all exercise physiologists?"  The answer is an organization that values all its members.  It is not about "I'm an exercise physiologist and you are an exercise specialist."  Also, it isn't about created a certification for non-PhD professionals who, then, by default are captured by the restrictive title.  It is known that in most other professionals, members do not need the doctorate degree to be a chief executive officer or a professional.  Implicit in the academic degree is the expectation of professional work and title. 

What Matt has done, therefore, is to open the door of possibility thinking.  Now is the time to decide our own future.  We don't need to continue mimicking other models of success.  Also, we should keep our eye on the moral compass of expanding job opportunities in all areas of health, fitness, rehabilitation, and sports training.  Success is the effort consistent with the vision that all exercise physiologists benefit from selling themselves by building individual state organizations, such as Matt in Idaho.  The issue is simple.  Matt has done today what should have been years ago. 

Ironically, the heart of the problem lies in the hands of the PhDs but it is the non-PhDs who created the first state affiliations with ASEP.  They alone have moved to create change and the possibility of a better future for the members of the exercise physiology profession.  Hence, it would probably be enough to not say anything about the academic exercise physiologists.  But that would surely be a mistake.  Professors also, at different times and different situations, have undermined the capacity of all exercise physiologists to compete in the public sector.  Universities and their faculty must get on the right track; one that is in touch with the needs of the alumni. 

Kinesiology programs, human performance, or whatever they may be called at a given institution must adjust their thinking to the needs of the graduates more so than their own.  Too many graduates are simply not prepared to be competitive in the public sector.  There are interpersonal issues.  Leadership concerns that haven't been met, and few have any idea of the teamwork that is necessary for successful employment.  These criticisms are appropriate, and they do have some validity.  Professors must take the time, for example as in Idaho, and study Matt's website and get on board.  For too many years, professors have been out of touch with the career experiences of their alumni.   In the simplest terms possible, they have been too inwardly focused on their own issues of tenure and research. 

On the positive side, however.  Thank you Matt for an example of a young professional working to make a difference.

Guidelines for the Accreditation of 
Undergraduate Programs in Exercise Physiology

Adopted by the

American Society of Exercise Physiologists
Founded 1997

Questions: Please contact

Copyright ©1997-2000 American Society of Exercise Physiologists. All Rights Reserved. 
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