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Each week reporter Noelle Lilley will tackle a different major, tour its school and talk to its students in the hopes of highlighting the uniqueness and diversity of our beloved university. This is "ASU According To You."

From Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers to Fitbits and P90X, it seems as though people are always looking for a next trend in weight loss and healthy living. However, for many young adults, this can be difficult to achieve especially when a tight college budget favors quick and cheap over fresh and healthy. 

Yet, exercise and wellness students at ASU's College of Health Solutions are fit to revolutionize the health industry and prove that the freshman fifteen is a thing of the past.

One of the few universities with exercise and wellness as a major, ASU has attracted young people from near and far with a passion for health and sports. The major is broken down into four concentrations: exercise for obesity prevention, fitness and wellness specialist, strength and conditioning specialist and health promotion. 

Careers in this field include personal trainers, sports medicine, physical therapy, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic directors and more. Many other avenues like government agencies, fitness centers and health club and school recreation departments also recognize the value of wellness educators in their departments.

Tall, lean and clothed in a never-ending supply of athletic wear, sophomore Michael Gaines is the quintessential EXW student with a love for fitness nearly as strong as his love for sports. Gaines said many of his fellow fitness and wellness specialist EXW majors are athletes who, if not talking about sports, are playing them.

He said exercise and wellness allows students to turn their love and passion into a lifelong career.

"It's basically a more hands-on way of attacking any type of athletic field you want to go into," Gaines said.

An athlete since the ripe age of 8 years old, Gaines said he played football as a wide receiver and competed in track and field in the triple jump and 400 meter dash. He said that the majority of EXW majors will be working around athletes, former athletes and sometimes even professional ones.

"Having that personal knowledge and experience (as an athlete) can help you on be on the same level and relate to your patient," he said.

Gaines also said that one of his favorite aspects of being an exercise and wellness major is the importance the program places on hands-on learning. EXW students complete labs in flexibility, strength, cardio, yoga and group fitness. They also conduct peer sessions, which gives them a chance to teach different exercise or wellness lessons to their peers. In addition to this, students must complete a six credit internship in order to graduate. 

Many EXW students are also often in extracurricular organizations like the Wellness Team Organization and ASU's Well Devils. These organizations help students get invaluable experience as well as share their love for fitness with the ASU community. The Wellness Team Organization, which Gaines is a part of, focuses on helping students understand and exercise the Six Dimensions of Wellness: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and social.

Gaines said it is important for exercise and wellness students to be able to adapt to challenges, be open to change and have a harmonious personality.

"You really just need to be able to connect with different people," he said. 

As a Barrett student in addition to EXW, Gaines said it can be sometimes difficult to complete honors credits and requirements. However, he maintains that hard work and dedication trump any challenges he might face.

Gaines said his post graduation plans include going to medical school and study sports medicine with an emphasis in physical rehab. 

Related links:

ASU According To You: A Parks and Recreation student

ASU According To You: An Aviation Student

Reach the reporter at or follow her @noelledl on Twitter.

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