Career opportunities in kinesiology

Ted Gorzny, current Manager of Johnson Fitness and Wellness, was a former massage therapist. Heather Wieshlow/Lariat

The kinesiology department at Saddleback College offers a degree and certificate programs to prepare individuals for a wide range of career opportunities. They also offer classes for the public and specialize in working with those who have a variety of physical challenges.  

For those who love sports or are fascinated with the human body, kinesiology may provide a career path. Saddleback College offers an associate degree in kinesiology for transfer, a new Teacher Training Yoga Certificate, a Coaching Occupational Skills Award and this fall they launched a Personal Training Specialist Certificate.

The education and training gained through these programs prepares individuals for a wide variety of careers involving exercise, health and recovery. Graduates with certificates can go on to careers as yoga instructors, fitness instructors or work as a coach. With a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, individuals can pursue jobs as occupational therapists, physical therapists, exercise physiologists or physician’s assistants.

Lindsay Steinriede is a kinesiology professor at Saddleback College and chairperson of the kinesiology department. She comes from the world of athletics and understands the career potential in the field. She holds numerous certifications and teaches a variety of fitness classes including yoga, pilates, spinning, cardio kickboxing and surfing—Steinriede is also a former Association of Surfing Professionals, Women’s Longboard World Champion.

“There are a lot of openings and occupational opportunities in our local area and we have a lot of gyms and training facilities,” Steinriede said. “Big organizations are always looking to hire, plus this area makes health and wellness a priority.”

Yoga Teacher Training Certificate

Toni Pfister practices yoga for the teacher training certification program at Saddleback College. Skip Cynar/Courtesy

This is the first year the Yoga Teacher Training Certificate has been offered as a certificate at Saddleback College and can be completed in one to two semesters. The program is designed to deepen students’ understanding of yoga and the biomechanics of yoga postures. Time is also spent on exploring the history and philosophy of yoga as well as learning effective teaching techniques for various settings.

The yoga program is designed not just for teachers, it also offers the community a chance to enjoy yoga classes to help lower stress and increase health and well being, which can be helpful during the pandemic.

Toni Pfister is a student and professor from South Western College, who is currently on a sabbatical.  She decided to do the Yoga Teacher Training Certificate so that she can teach adapted yoga at her school. After researching various yoga teacher training programs, she finally decided upon Saddleback College.

“I saved a lot of money by doing the teacher training at a junior college,” Pfister said. “They do a good job the way it is structured and I’m getting what I need in lectures and with the other students. The instructors are great and are also good role models.”

Upon successful completion of the Yoga Teacher Training Program at Saddleback College, students are eligible to apply for a Yoga Alliance 200-hour Instructor Certification, which prepare individuals for employment as a trained yoga teacher in public and private settings.

“Students in the yoga program have gone on to work with veterans, cancer recovery and one student even worked on a cruise line,” Steinriede said.

Personal Training Specialist Certificate

Sebastian Gorzny, 14 , is plays tennis at Los Lab Sports Village and has an Universal Tennis Rating of 12:46. Heather Wieshlow/Lariat

The new Personal Training Specialist Certification launched in August is designed for students interested in the field of personal training and fitness instruction. Students completing this certification will learn the fundamentals of exercise science, basics of sports nutrition and how to perform fitness assessments. They also learn how to create personalized training programs and the effects of social, psychological and behavioral factors on training.

Upon completion of this certification program students are prepared for entry-level personal training and fitness specialist positions in fitness clubs, health and wellness centers, educational institutes, and community establishments.

Courses in this program can be completed in one semester and prepare students to further their certification through the nationally recognized American Council on Exercise.

Coaching Occupational Skills Award

The Coaching Occupational Skills Award is designed to prepare students seeking employment in the fields of teaching, coaching, allied health and fitness professions. Students gain a variety of experiences, skills and knowledge that cover a multitude of sports and associated fields and the program can be completed in one to two semesters.

Students also learn about good nutrition for sports performance, gain the ability to assess sports-related injuries, understand basics of first aid and explore a variety of techniques related to coaching.

Associate degree in kinesiology for transfer

The associate degree in kinesiology for transfer provides a foundational understanding in all areas of life through physiological, mechanical and psychological mechanisms. Core areas include aquatics, combative skills, fitness, individual sports, team sports, training and theory.

Many athletes enroll in the kinesiology programs because the type of training can help them excel in their sport. Saddleback College athletics program is widely recognized as one of the top programs in the nation, competing in one of the top conferences in the state. Each year dozens of student-athletes transfer to four-year institutions with most of them earning scholarships for their efforts.

Saddleback College also has a kinesiology club where students have a chance to meet with fellow students, staff and faculty, as well as local professionals. Being involved creates connections in the community for internships and opportunities to hear about jobs in the area.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median salaries and projected job for kinesiology graduates vary by the type of job, experience level and education. For example, coaches and scouts make a median annual salary of $34,840, while occupational therapists make $84,950 per year. According to the American Kinesiotherapy Association 2017 employment survey, 74% of respondents rated their choice in pursuing careers in kinesiology as very satisfying or satisfying.

Athletes who have majored in kinesiology include former Trish Stratus a Canadian professional wrestler, actress and television personality known for her time in World Wrestling Entertainment  and Terry Fox, an athlete who lost his right leg to cancer and attempted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.  Other famous individuals include Thurgood Marshall, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Eva Longoria, actress.

Adapted kinesiology program

Jonathan Kaufman (seated) and John Birdon go across the old east practice field. Mike Bennett/Courtesy

Saddleback College also offers adapted kinesiology classes and works with a diverse group of students including those that have been diagnosed with spinal cord and brain injuries, post stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and cognitive and behavioral developmental delays. They also work with individuals that have temporary physical challenges, including a stroke or an orthopedic condition and support those who have other issues like chronic back and neck pain.

When an individual has finished therapy or rehab at a hospital, outpatient physical therapy center or a home health care program, these classes are often the next step in their recovery. Older adults who are looking for social support and want to improve their physical fitness also choose to attend classes. Even if a student does not have a disability or physical challenge they are welcome to take classes.

“The kinesiology classes have up to 50% with students that have no disability at all, they are able bodied, able minded and are integrated into classes,” said Mike Bennett, adapted kinesiology chair at Saddleback College.

The program uses specialized equipment and customized instruction to create individual plans. Each student works with a group of usually five helpers in small or large groups to achieve their physical and wellness goals.

The pandemic has made it more difficult since they are not able to meet in person, however they have adapted the program to serve their students.

“With COVID, classes have been much smaller and are only 15-20% of normal,” Bennett said. “We do break out rooms on Zoom and they do stretching and calisthenics, but it’s hard because some of the students are in nursing homes and they can’t get out.”

Saddleback College and the adaptive kinesiology department partnered with the Special Olympics to host the first intercollegiate games on campus, last year. The Unified Basketball game featured eight Saddleback College basketball players and 12 adapted kinesiology students who all played together.

Click here for more information on the programs in the kinesiology department at Saddleback College.