Grace College Professor Takes Hands-On Approach to Exercise Science

by Abby Phinney

Christina Walters (right), exercise science program director, teaches student to complete Submaximal VO2max assessment.

What do clay muscles, group workouts and pre-physical therapy classes have in common? Grace College’s exercise science department, under the guidance of Christina Walters, program director.

In the past three years, Walters has breathed life into the exercise science program. “I’ve completely revamped the curriculum so students would be able to select two different concentrations,” Walters explained. Moving forward, Walters has multiple goals for the program. Equipment and space are the highest priority. Most recently, two new lab spaces, dedicated to exercise science, have been added to the Gordon Recreation Center.

“One lab will serve as a space for VO2max, body composition, muscular strength, balance and flexibility assessment,” said Walters. “The other lab will be a functional training space. This will allow students to practice exercise instruction and organize groups for a workouts.” Walters’ plans reach beyond classroom instruction. Her hope is that the practical, hands-on experiences will equip students for their careers.

Walters’ kinesiology course is a source of pride. Using a hands-on approach called Anatomy in Clay, each class period involves creating muscles. “We use clay to build the muscles we’re talking about, and then we put them on a skeleton mannequin,” Walters explained. In tandem with this course, Walters’ class recently toured the cadaver lab at Trine University. The students’ excitement impressed Walters, who hopes to take future classes to the lab.

Thanks to Walters’ initiative, Grace College offers pre-physical therapy for students leaning toward physical therapy school or other graduate-level programs. “And we offer health and wellness for students wanting to enter the job market after graduating,” Walters said. The department is also discussing internship options with Kosciusko Community Hospital, making it possible for students to engage in potential career environments.

Many careers result from an exercise science degree, including athletic trainer, dietitian, fitness director, medical physician, researcher and biomechanist. “I like to see exercise science as a large umbrella that houses many different professions,” said Walters. “It’s a great way to launch a more specialized career.”

To learn more about Grace College’s exercise science program, contact Walters at christian.walters@grace.edu. Or, call 574-372-5100.