Copyright ©1997-2002 American Society of Exercise Physiologists. All Rights Reserved.
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Vol 6 No 6 June 2002 
ISSN 1097-9743
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The ASEPNewsletter is devoted to informative articles and news items 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. 

From the Editor:
Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, MA, FASEP, EPC

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Since October 1997, this is the 55th ASEPNewsletter to the ASEP members.  A lot has happened since the founding of ASEP in 1997.   Most importantly, we are still up and running!  The Society is making its mark and, increasingly, more of our friends are catching on to its importance in the professional development of exercise physiology. They are also coming to appreciate that the public sector jobs are greatly influenced by power and politics.  And, who has both?  The short answer is the organization with a lot of members and, especially members who are willing to fight and go out on the limb for what they believe.  We need more members and, yes, we need a Call to Action.  I'm reminded the presentation I gave at the October 2001 ASEP Annual Meeting in Memphis.  Perhaps, a quick re-reading would help encourage some of our colleagues to do a little extra this summer for ASEP and exercise physiology.

ASEP: A Call For Action........"NINE" months later!

THINGS ARE DIFFERENT today from years ago.  People are different.  They dress differently, and many aren’t the same as they were even 5 years ago.  New technology, new books, and new thinking are changing everyday business and interaction with others.  Literally, everything has changed.  Academics (to a point), the way professionals think, the politics of organizations, the research technologies, and the job market.  Even more profound changes lie ahead, perhaps, next week or next month and most certainly next year.  The future is here and neither yesterday’s thinking nor yesterday’s possibilities will equip you with the skills to make it in today’s world. 

The 21st century exercise physiologist requires new rules for success and, therefore, new thinking is imperative.  The notion of not changing and adapting to our problems is amazingly a hopelessly outdated idea.  Solving problems, such as better jobs, more financial stability, increased respect, and more creditability, begin with new ideas not false assumptions that are inadequate.  The good old days are gone.  Those days are now replaced by a set of shared assumptions, although not unquestioned, that we need our own organization.  Such thinking is not inconsistent with established professions that have nourished and provided for their members.  It is a way of thinking that may be considered radical, but nonetheless right because it is driven by reasons of conscience not expediency and by integrity not by economics. 

How else could we be here today if it were not for the unwavering discipline of a few willing to think in uncommon ways?  Collectively, we find ourselves in the middle of what has never been done before.   Uncommon exercise physiologists have embraced ASEP without apology.  They understand that to live it is to have passion without mere stubbornness.  It takes courage to give reality to uncommon behaviors.  Personally, I am encouraged by the following quote: 

"Never cease to pursue the opportunity to seek something different.  Don’t be satisfied with what you’re doing. Always try to seek a way and a method to improve upon what you’re doing, even if it’s considered contrary to the traditions of an Industry.” – Howard Marguleas
Change is never easy.  Yet, change is the one constant that bears down on everything.  In time, the fear of failure will pass and our feelings of disconnectedness will no longer exist.  Until then, we need academic ASEP members with the willingness and perseverance to look at the academic problems before us.  We need to be responsible for what we are doing.  Perhaps, a beginning is to admit that exercise physiology is a separate and distinct academic major in only a few colleges and universities.  It is less distinct and less organized in most academic institutions when it comes to producing exercise physiologists (by academic title). 

The curriculum requires serious assessment and important changes, and concentrations ought to be academic majors.  It is time that exercise physiology stops being a subsidiary concentration “tied to the apron strings” of another academic major.  True curriculum reform consistent with our professional title is imperative if the public sector is to understand what we do.  Reform begins with listening to your students, providing an outstanding academic curriculum and service, developing critical thinking skills, looking for and eliminating inefficiencies, and acting like team players.  The problem, clearly, is not in figuring out what to do.  Rather the problem is in finding the strength and courage to do what we know to be right.

If this plea is ignored, it is my opinion that exercise physiology will continue to be shaped by conditions only too obvious to many of us.  In time, exercise physiology (outside of the context of the PhD) will be replaced by the title “exercise professionals” by organizations that already have a significant following.  We know many of them by such names as the:

  • American Academy of Health and Fitness Professionals
  • Aerobic and Fitness Association of America
  • National College of Exercise Professionals
  • American Fitness Professionals and Associates
  • International Fitness Professionals Association
  • International Association of Resistance Trainers
  • Fitness Resource Associates
  • International Sports Sciences Association
  • National Fitness and Personal Training association
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • National Association for Fitness Certification
  • American Council on Exercise
  • American College of Sports Medicine, and so forth. 

ACSM is obviously the primary vehicle for cross-disciplinary progress in sports medicine and exercise science.  Simply stated, as I have said many times, exercise science is not exercise physiology.  Rather, exercise science is a diverse field of study that encompases many areas of inquiry, including sport psychologists, exercise physiologists, biomechanists, physical educators, and kinesiologists.  Collectively, sports medicine refers to this diverse group of professionals as cross-disciplinary exercise scientists.  In other words, without admitting it, ACSM states that exercise science is not exercise physiology since it is an advocate of sports medicine and cross-disciplinary exercise scientists (not sports medicine and exercise physiologists).

This is why exercise physiologists need an independent professional organization.  Professionalization requires a separate and strong organization to guide the development of national certification, state licensure, and curriculum reform.  Members of the organization can help construct a professional philosophy centered directly on ‘what is exercise physiology?” and “what is its purpose in the public sector?”  The need for both is long overdue.  We can still do research and publish.  Doing one does not preclude doing the other, but our emphasis should be on bringing in more members into ASEP, getting busy doing the business of ASEP and, in effect, getting into overdrive.  The time is right for us to teach who we are, to talk openly with each other about the deeper and more significant concerns for change.  Careful analysis and delineation of our differences can give rise to a systematic and coherent plan to resolve our most immediate concerns and issues. 

Exercise physiology is no longer about the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory.  While history is important.  It must be put aside to begin anew.  Exercise physiology today is about educational standards by which all college graduates can access jobs in the public sector.  Reality, viewed in this way, is an entirely different exercise physiology.  All of us need to get involved, particularly the exercise physiology professors.  It is indefensible that so many of our college teachers are not members of ASEP.  Each college teacher here today, you have my highest respect.  Now is the time to talk about ASEP, and to introduce it to our students.  They need to know that the search for a meaningful direction for all of us has begun, and yet an understanding of exactly the kind of business we are in still needs careful study.   Without a professional commitment on behalf of the college professors, claims to professional status are empty noise. 

The reality, of course, is that many of us allow the sports medicine myth to confound and confuse us.  The belief that we can grow into a profession from within sports medicine is not true.  Other professional groups  (such as the American Society of Biomechanics (, the International Society of Exercise and Immunology (, the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sports Psychology (, the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (, and the North American Association of Sports Management (, and others) have known this for some time and have developed their own professional organizations.  It only takes a few seconds to find these organizations on the Internet.  Each is recognized and appreciated for what it represents in the development of its members.

Personal integrity, conviction, and the discipline to do what is right are essential to professional development.  So, why is it a problem that an exercise physiologist should disagree with the sports medicine model?  It shouldn’t be.  In a world of conflict, confusion, and effort towards making sense of life, disagreeing with colleagues ought to be considered imperative if growth and new vision are important.  The privilege of disagreeing is just that, a privilege.  Daring to question anything is appropriate and necessary for an understanding of what is right.  The cloud of unknowing or simply not knowing what is straight thinking is a problem.  True knowledge and understanding come from asking questions, constructing hypotheses, and going about the steps of critical reflection.  True knowledge comes from insight; a moment in time when what has been standard thinking is questioned.  Greatness is awakened in each of us when truth within us calls out and tells us what to do. 

The ethics of the ASEP organization and the moral responsibility of academic exercise physiologists are inseparable.  Our concerns with teaching, staying on track, making sure the content is relevant, progressive, and understandable in our lectures are known to all college teachers.  But, our emphasis on the students as customers is lacking and is in need of critical repair.  The greatest gift that we can give to our students (and their parents) is a job with security and respect.  Every PhD person wishes for the same.  Placing our students first or, at least, taking their problems seriously is more important than any of us can imagine.  It bears directly on the future of what we are and how long we will continue doing it, especially since the idea of continuing to mass-produce exercise physiologists, defined by the PhD standard, is wrong, out-dated, and inherently inflexible because the doctorate per se does not address the undergraduate’s lack of respect and financial instability in the public sector. 

In fact, the sheer volume of applicants looking for so few jobs makes it seemingly impossible, and so even outstanding graduates give in to the pressure by seeking certifications that are less than ideal.  Here, I’m referring to the “weekend warrior” certifications.  Most students understand the differences among the many Internet offerings, but have become psychologically numb to the process if it helps to locate a job.  I’m not suggesting that all such certifications are meaningless, but the threshold of “certification based on serious academics isn’t very high.  What is important, however, a profession cannot be built on a poor foundation.  All true professions have recognized academic degrees, professional credentials, and accreditation guidelines. 

The "Exercise Physiologist Certified" (EPC) exam epitomizes the philosophy of ASEP and professionalism.  Central to this point is the ASEP accreditation guidelines.  It seems only logical that the faculty of academic programs that list “sports science or exercise science” as a concentration in physical education (or kinesiology or, perhaps, human performance) need answers to the following questions: 

    1.  Do students have the professional credentials to achieve success in exercise physiology? No one has responded to this question.

    2.  Is the major in exercise science a major in physical education or is it exercise physiology? No one has responded to this question.

    3.  If a major in kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science is interpreted as exercise physiology, is the view correct and, if not, why is it allowed to persist?No one has responded to this question.

    4.  If there are academic departments other than exercise physiology academic coursework that is equal to an exercise physiology degree, why aren’t the exercise physiologists in discussion with their chairs, deans, and vice-presidents to re-name the academic degree?” No one has responded to this question.

    5.  If exercise science is the preferred concentration or degree, then who demands an accounting for and responsibility for the graduates who refer to themselves as exercise physiologists? No one has responded to this question.

It is time that we start asking these questions.  Furthermore, we need answers. My personal vision is that exercise physiologists in the United States will do what is necessary to emerge as a fully defined profession.  However, to win we must begin.  Winning starts with beginning.  Action is what unites every great success.  Action is what produces results.  The ability to act is our power, but only if we act!.  We must take the types of action we believe will create the greatest probability of producing the results we desire.  For example, in no particular order:

We need you as an advocate for ASEP.  I do not have to tell you that there is no greatness without passion.  It’s passion that causes us to stay up late and get up early.  It’s passion that drives the actions of an organization.  We need to decide what we want, because that’s the only way we can expect to get it.  But, it is work that we must do together.  It is hard work, and it will cost us.  There will be sacrifices, but there will be rewards too.  Nothing matters more than thinking, doing, and talking about the impossible, and what we can do now for our students.  We will be measured by how we commit to both. 

Published in PEPonline [Vol 4 No 10 October 2001]