Culture of Continued Learning

The campus recreation industry is a rapidly growing field, which aims to serve the needs of universities and enhance student life. As much as college prepares students academically through higher education, campus rec centers can be a resource for students to learn, expand healthy behaviors and build a habit of fitness for a lifetime. Cultivating a culture of continued learning stems from having a well-educated staff who can ensure people are engaging in fitness behaviors and performing exercises safely and effectively. Nationally accredited certifications can help equip professionals in the campus recreation industry to educate, inform and inspire communities to lead active, healthy lifestyles.

A foundation for success. For everything from the principles of fitness to the latest trends, the fitness industry has a multitude of educational resources and organizations offering certificates and certifications. Nationally accredited certifications are important for helping fitness professionals meet the highest standards of knowledge in the industry and stay on the forefront of the field.

A strong foundation in evidence-based research, as provided by several nationally accredited certifications, gives fitness professionals the knowledge and tools to adapt and evolve to new techniques and equipment, and develop individualized programming to meet client, athlete and student goals. Having the ability to discern the good from the fad when it comes to new programs and the latest technology is critical for a fitness professional to excel.

Because campus rec centers offer a wide variety of programming, from boot camps to aquatics, a background based in researched-backed applications can help establish credibility, not only for a program’s offerings, but in employees’ abilities to:

Modify and adapt programs for individual skill and ability, especially in a group exercise setting.

Understand and evaluate emerging fitness trends, what works best for whom and how to tailor for individuals.

Provide safe and effective guidance to individuals with a wide variety of skills, abilities and fitness levels.

Nationally accredited certifications matter. Accreditation from a national body such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is a third party check-and-balance system that ensures an organization’s certification processes and examination systems are fair and valid. NCCA accreditation shows that an organization’s program has met the stringent standards of the credentialing community and is both credible and legitimate. Nationally accredited certifications exhibit the highest standards of excellence within the health and fitness industry. With a wide variety of associations offering certification within the fitness industry, it’s important for institutions and campus rec centers to align with an organization that best fits their needs and goals.

Improved quality of service improves lives. According to Club Industry’s Fitness Facility Market Overview 2012-2013, campus recreation affects the lives of approximately 12 million people per year. And in order to accommodate for the growing demand, more than $1.7 billion was planned to be spent between 2010-2015 on fitness facility construction, renovation, or expansion by NIRSA’s member institutions.

Given the importance of fitness today, it’s equally important to ensure that the quality of service provided matches the state-of-the-art facilities and the ever-increasing demand. Certified staff ensures that campus recreation centers can fulfill their missions of enriching student life, encouraging life-long healthy lifestyles and developing meaningful relationships amongst their communities in a safe and effective manner.

J. Scott Douglas is the senior director of memberships and business development at NSCA. He can be reached at, or at 800.815.6826. 

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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