If We Just Listen,
We Will Know What to Do!
Tommy Boone, PhD,
MPH, FASEP, EPC
Professor and Chair
Department of Exercise Physiolgoy
College of St. Scholastica
Duluth, MN 55811
"It seems to me
that the ultimate purpose of an organization is not, or should not be,
simply to make money or to have more members than other organizations.
Nor is it merely a system of developing and selling certifications.
The promise of an organization is to increase the personal and professional
well being of its members through service, ethical standards and conduct,
and professionalism." – William T. Boone, Jr
IN TODAY'S WORLD, there are
a plethora of organizations from which a person can choose. This
in turn creates considerable competition among organizations, forcing some
to resort to aggressive tactics to attract members. It is little
wonder, then, that some organizations will offer certifications essentially
for payment. Most undergraduate students understand the differences
in such certifications. It is not difficult to locate the “weekend
certifications”. The Internet is full of them. Fortunately,
the ASEP certification of exercise physiologists is an aggressive certification
that isn’t being sold but earned. I find it a refreshing option,
and a change that is needed.
Time has proven that many
exercise physiologists have come to understand that the importance of a
strong academic preparation in exercise physiology is invaluable in breaking
from the barriers of tradition. In the past, which is still true
with some popular organizations, members of the profession were (and still
are) certified as “something other” than the title, exercise physiologist.
Yet, these same professionals frequently refer to themselves as exercise
physiologists and not according to the title of their certification.
It is a crafty way of not building the necessary underlying academic structure
to certify exercise physiologists, but rather to build an organization's
As mentioned earlier, organizations
should serve the members, not serve themselves. For several years,
I have written about the ASEP organization, the importance of exercise
physiology professionalism, the necessity for a code of ethics, the fact
that we have not had a standards of professional practice, what I refer
to as the new exercise physiology, certification specifically for exercise
physiologists, and academic accreditation to mention a few major areas
of interests. The PEPonline
journal is the only journal of its kind, either via the Internet or print
copy. It is designed to assist exercise physiologists in aligning
their beliefs and behaviors with the new emerging exercise physiology professionalism.
For me, being an ASEP member is the only way to take responsibility to
honor exercise physiologists worldwide. It is my communication with
those who find the time to read the electronic articles and, until now,
for me at least, one of several ways I’ve chosen to take responsibility
in developing the profession.
I believe anyone interested
in exercise physiology professionalism, as well as in member service, will
benefit from joining ASEP. Members deserve to be respected.
I believe this so much that just several years ago I started writing about
a new vision for exercise physiology, but not by purpose. In fact,
it began only because of concern for my undergraduate students where I
teach. After just one year as Chair of the Department of Exercise
Physiology, I knew the academic degree in exercise physiology was unique
and my students were paying a considerable sum of money for it ($70,000
to $80,000). I even designed a master’s degree in exercise physiology
to increase job opportunities and financial stability. The Chair
position allowed me to create my own view of exercise physiology, and the
freedom to experiment left me knowing exactly what needed to be done.
I knew that we needed our
own professional organization. Every other professional has his or
her own organization. The list is a long one, but a few examples
include professional organizations for sports biomechanists, sports psychologists,
sports managers, exercise immunologists, and athletic trainers to mention
the obvious. Something had to be done for exercise physiologists
who wanted to step out from under the sports medicine umbrella. Fortunately,
there are professionals who understand that ASEP exists because there is
a need for it. However, the simple truth is, you can’t make an organization
happen without people who want it, and who understand it.
I had to try with whatever
resources I could access to make a difference. None of this bothered
me except that I did have a sense of challenge. I remember speaking
with several colleagues. I remember discussing possibilities and
obstacles, in particular, with Dr. Robert Robergs of the University of
New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM. His help has been a major reason for
the success of ASEP. His efforts at putting together two ASEP national
meetings have helped to create and sustain the understanding that the ASEP
goal is to serve its members. Without members in the ASEP professional
equation, we don’t have a leg to stand on. Service is the goal.
So, in my office, I went to work creating an ASEP web page without knowing
anything about editing web pages. As you can imagine, I felt seriously
limited, if not stupid. In the beginning, I didn’t have any idea
about the work involved. One day I’m doing my regular job and the next
day and the day after it got busier and busier with ASEP. I began
knowing the work that my colleagues have been doing for years. I
began believing in the possibility of a new exercise physiology.
But, to this day, I could have never imagined the effort that it takes
to be creative and persistent. To be honest, it is a bit of a shock.
To change the way exercise
physiologists think about what they do, to sell the ASEP commitment to
professionalism, we must collectively take on a new belief about our title,
how we define what we do, and we must work to understand our responsibility
in building trustworthy relationships. My job, along with other ASEP
members, is to help insure that the organization’s website and policies
are congruent and consistent with the needs of exercise physiologists.
In fact, from the beginning, the idea for a new organization resulted from
exercise physiologists in the field who expressed concerns about the lack
of organizational support and professional credentials. They recognized
that something important was missing. Most believed it was licensure,
especially those who worked in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. Some
were working at different solutions, but none had explored the possibility
of a new organization.
Most exercise physiologists
at the time did not get the full view of the problem. They felt that
licensure, as an example, would correct everything. The problem,
however, was not (and still isn’t) licensure per se, but rather the lack
of understanding that nothing had been put in place to build the profession
of exercise physiology. People worked as exercise physiologists,
called themselves exercise physiologists, but without a professional organization
or an understanding of the criteria for becoming a profession. Status
quo was the accepted way of thinking. It is still the way for many
because, in reality, it is always easier. Change is work. Understanding
the reasons for change requires a departure from the groupthink that works
to keep thinking as one. The problem is that there is no way of knowing
which thinking is better without taking the time to consider what needs
to change. I’ve listened to a lot of non-PhD exercise physiologists.
I think I know how they feel, the hardships they face, and feeling of being
left behind. The solution is listening to the exercise physiologists
who have the answers for correcting their problems.
If we just listen, we can
hear them saying “We are professionals and we want our own professional
organization.” I learned that exercise physiology as a discipline
isn’t enough. I learned also that being a member of a discipline
falls short of being a member of a profession. I learned that thinking
differently is disruptive to the status quo, and that change takes time,
persistent, and faith. Change itself begins with seeking satisfaction
for one’s work, and in realizing that if a person wants to be some place
different, then he or she must figure out how to get there. People
seek solutions when they want to change, when they want respect and, simply,
when they want something different from what has been. It is important,
therefore, that ASEP members listen to exercise physiologists in the field.
They will inform us of what we need to be doing, how to do it, and when
it should be done.
In order for exercise physiologists
to trust ASEP, to develop a professional relationship with it and its members,
to feel that they have a place to be heard, they must understand that we
exists for them. We need to find better ways to communicate our support
for all exercise physiologists. Every move to update the web site,
every strategy used to get attention, and every article published via PEPonline
must be evaluated for its effectiveness, or the lack of it to avoid missing
the opportunity to communicate correctly. It should be apparent that
creating a shift in thinking is a two-way street. After all, just
because ASEP exists doesn’t mean the message is being received. We
must figure out what potential members need to hear from ASEP to help them
make more sense of why they should join. As members of ASEP, we must
take the responsibility to make sure we speak in a way we are heard.
This point is an important
one. We can’t just expect that because a professional organization
now exists for exercise physiologists, everyone will naturally support
it. We must help others discover why ASEP is right, why it is a realistic
and desirable future. The key to gaining widespread commitment to
the new ASEP vision, therefore, is to present the organization in such
a way that exercise physiologists will want to participate and will freely
choose to do so. Where possible and appropriate, ASEP members should
discuss the vision with other exercise physiologists in terms that address
their own legitimate concerns and interests. This means connecting
with the exercise physiologist at Gold’s Gym or the YMCA, finding a common
thread that connects with the exercise physiologist who is directing cardiac
rehab in your city, seeking out the opportunity to meet with exercise physiologists
who teach at the college level in a way that makes sense with their own
deepest feelings about what is right and worth doing.
Quite simply, ASEP members
are trying to deal with the future. It is about a vision that is
realistic and attractive for all exercise physiologists. It is a
special kind of dream built upon values, standards, information, and knowledge
to shape the emerging profession. Indeed, the idea requires that we think
clearly about solving problems by providing a professional organization
that conveys an understanding of reality and constructive change.
It requires getting everyone involved, and in giving everyone the opportunity
to contribute to the professionalization of exercise physiology.
of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different
results. Think smarter, not harder.” – Gerald Nadler and Shozo Hibino
in Breakthrough Thinking
It’s up to you, me, and everyone
who really cares about the emerging profession more so than caring about
our resumes. What matters, according to William T. Boone, Jr., is
“treating exercise physiologists with respect.” ASEP members believe
that exercise physiologists want to be treated and recognized as professionals.
By showing respect for what they do, they learn to feel good about themselves.
In short, their concerns are our concerns. We are in this together
to create a better, more positive environment for increased cooperation,
growth, and opportunity. Today is just the beginning and an excellent
one at that. But, it is important that we listen to all exercise
physiologists (especially the non-PhD exercise physiologists), work to
understand their issues and concerns, and then, as a community of professionals,
we will know what to do.
©1997-2001 American Society of Exercise Physiologists. All Rights
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