The ASEP Exercise Physiologist:
Leadership and Shared Expectations
Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, MA, FASEP, EPC
Professor and Chair
Director, Exercise Physiology Laboratories
The College of St. Scholastica
Duluth, MN 55811
“You have to believe in something
yourself first, before you can get others to believe.” -- Ashraf
Exercise physiologists have a history of supporting
sports medicine, not exercise physiology. No matter how far they
have come in the last 50 years, that one factor has been both positive
and negative. The positive is obvious. Doctorate prepared exercise
physiologists have done an excellent job at creating the exercise physiology
scientific-based, specialized body of knowledge. The negative is
the nagging problems that sports medicine has kept exercise physiology
from maturing as an emerging profession.
This doesn’t mean that exercise physiologists
haven’t come a long way. Today, the ASEP exercise physiologist is
moving alongside other healthcare professionals. In all areas of
healthcare, the ASEP board certified exercise physiologist  is recognized
with professional competencies to nurture change towards acceptable lifestyle
ways. Increasingly, more exercise physiologists are becoming aware
of the importance of their education and hands-on skills. They understand
that exercise physiology is a healthcare profession. Clearly, the
founding of ASEP is the transition point between the sports medicine
exercise physiologist and the ASEP exercise physiologist.
The fundamental obstacle ASEP exercise
physiologists continue to face is the sports medicine organization itself
. The truth is that there is still a lot of work to be done.
The cards aren’t stacked against change, but it is a major uphill battle
to deal with the issue of power and political structures of today’s organizations.
Although it is unrealistic to think that ASEP exercise physiologists are
the only professionals working to change their reality, at times it seems
that everyone who is not a member of ASEP is not making great strides in
the political arena. For many ASEP members, the ability to get things
done is the belief in the ASEP vision . It is the mental and emotional
power that is gained from the commitment to professionalism.
Dosick  wrote, "Vision is more than
what you see. Vision is opening your eyes -- and your mind's
eye, as well -- to that inner place where you see and
forsee, where you dream and imagine and create....You could be satisfied
with the status quo. You could be content to leave things as they
are. You could choose not to 'not the boat,' 'upset the apple cart,'
or 'make waves.' You could repeat the sad and dangerous words, so
often heard: 'But we've always done it this way.' But then you and
your business would probably not improve, not progress, not prosper."
The ASEP vision is important to the professional development of exercise
The purpose of this article is to help exercise
physiologists understand and cultivate personal and professional qualities
that will enable them to play more powerful roles in shaping the ASEP future
of exercise physiology. While the concept of personal power is new,
the importance of leadership is well known. What determines leadership
and power  versus the traditional emphasis on research per se
is important to know since both often give rise to confidence. Projecting
confidence is a matter of being in charge and sending the right signals.
It’s about the beliefs leaders embrace to facilitate change based on ideas
that there’s no going back to sports medicine. The ASEP leadership
is about restoring hope, rebuilding a sense of community, and seizing career
To be recognized as the leading professional
organization of American scholars and practitioners in the study and application
of exercise physiology to fitness, health promotion, rehabilitation, and
The Society is dedicated to unifying all exercise
physiologists in the United States and worldwide to promote and support
the study, practice, teaching, research, and development of the exercise
Through proactive and creative leadership,
the Society empowers its members to serve the public good by making an
academically sound difference in the application of exercise physiology
concepts and insights.
Leadership is important in anyone’s career
and, most certainly, within one’s own organization. The most significant
contribution any exercise physiologist can make to the evolving profession
is to speak out on behalf of ASEP. In the end, it is a matter of
time, vision, conviction, and courage  to create something better for
all exercise physiologists. It takes courage to make a difference
when indifference is so common . This means standing up for what
you believe and sharing your values regarding the ASEP organization.
Leadership is about “Going the Extra Mile” . Sports medicine is
one thing. Exercise physiology is something altogether different.
Sometimes a person has to choose a side!
To effectively model the ASEP behavior, one must be a committed member.
Then, the dream of exercise physiologists as healthcare professionals sets
the stage for the future. This image of the future is what drives
the ASEP exercise physiologist. It is the dream of a shared vision
 whereby the sports medicine status quo is changed forever. The
ASEP leadership is about challenging the status quo at every level to ensure
the unlocking of opportunities to serve the public. It is about a
finding a sense of purpose and communicating the ASEP vision; all of which
is a legitimate on behalf of exercise physiologists throughout the United
During the 21st century, exercise physiologists
are being brought up to be proud of “their” organization. They are
encouraged to talk about it, shared personal values about it, and explain
to others why they are committed to the ASEP organization. Their
sense of ownership is making a difference. The ASEP leadership has
made a difference in how the public sees exercise physiology. They
“walk the talk” and, therefore, their actions are consistent with their
promises. Just this month, the ASEP Board of Directors and the ASEP
Board of Licensure completed the final draft of the Minnesota Licensure
Bill for Exercise Physiologists. ASEP is doing what its leadership
said it would do. This is the definition of credibility .
Securing licensure for exercise physiologists
as healthcare professionals is an important and serious foundation for
building productive and genuine career opportunities. Imagine the
power in “doing what ASEP said it would do”. It demonstrates that
the commitment to a shared vision that exercise physiology is a profession
of healthcare professionals is constantly affirming publicly that ASEP
is also “the” professional organization of exercise physiologists.
Doing what ASEP leadership said it would do has helped exercise physiology
escape from the sports medicine paradigm trap . Stopping the
past exploitation of exercise physiology is an important beginning to a
sense of meaning and purpose. It is the building process that results
from an internal desire to inspire others to get involved in the niche
 opportunities that defines the exercise physiology leadership in today’s
Unfortunately, finding a vision, expressing
a vision, and maintaining a vision is not always an intuitive, emotional
process. Why? Part of the human response is very likely life
itself. As if work at the office isn’t enough, the challenges that
associate with raising a family, war and terrorism, and other concerns
such the weather, taxes, paying bills, the human race is living a mix of
feelings. And, frankly, everyone is stretched to the breaking point,
it is reasonable to expect any change at all to be hard won. But,
what is important is simply this: “Regardless of what others
may say, a single person can make a difference.” That person
can help others make sense of why a struggle that is worth fighting for
is worth suffering for. That one person can write about exercise
physiology, talk about career opportunities, embrace others who have similar
views, and “stand his or her ground” passionately on behalf of the American
Society of Exercise Physiologists.
The willingness to stand for something
and to be something is intimately connected. Members of ASEP ought
to read about professionalism and professional development issues and concerns.
They should talk with others who are living the change in professionalism
within exercise physiology and, where possible and time permits, visit
with members of the Board of Directors , Board of Accreditation ,
Board of Certification , and Board of Licensure . There is
a lot to talk about and the implications are important, given that they
define the future of possibilities for the common good of exercise physiologists.
The ASEP leadership knows that working on behalf of an organization just
for exercise physiologists is worth doing. ASEP is making a difference,
and it is having an important impact on the meaning and purpose of many
students who are immersed in exercise physiology. The organization
is about the projecting into the future, building a shared vision, and
keeping its members’ energy focused on becoming what they want to be.
The ASEP Board of Directors is committed to Shared Expectations of Exercise
Physiology. That is, in spite of the difficulties and tensions
that surround the ASEP perspective of exercise physiology, they have shared
expectations. It is a shared expectation that is fundamental to the
rights of every evolving profession:
They expect that academic exercise physiologists
will come to terms with the support of sports medicine and their failure
to support ASEP.
They expect that exercise physiologists (whether
they have the doctorate degree or not) are equal to other healthcare professionals;
that all professionals should be treated with respect and equal in every
They expect that not too far in the future
the students of diverse academic programs will be able to say that they
graduated from an accredited exercise physiology college or university.
They expect that at some point in the future
the sports medicine leadership will recognize the transformations led by
the ASEP leadership and support the ASEP initiatives to professionalize
They expect that the founders of the ASEP
organization and its leadership will in the not too distant future be given
the respect due them and that they will not be judged by their association
with ASEP, but by their integrity and convictions to improve the conditions
of exercise physiology.
They expect that their shared vision will
inspire others to mobilize the ASEP movement.
They expect that next month, next year, or
even 5 years from now those who disregard and put down the ASEP leadership
and organizational efforts will be transformed into thinking about and
supporting the ASEP organization so that exercise physiology students will
be given the same respect, career opportunities, credibility, and trust
as other healthcare professionals have working the public sector.
They expect members of the ASEP organization
and others to share in the ASEP vision that is realistic, full of hope,
and straight from the heart.
They expect that exercise physiology will
rise to status of a profession, and that the seeds for success are being
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