Change Lives. Start with your Own | Mathias Sorenson, Continuing Education Journey

Hi all! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mathias. I am one of the curriculum coordinators for AFNA. Recently I moved to San Francisco to complete my Master’s Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. I was also an instructor with AFNA prior to moving north.

I just finished my first year as a graduate student and I wanted to highlight some of my experiences with you all. I have not been a student in school since I first received my Bachelor’s degree in 2014, so it was a tough transition for me. However, after a few weeks I found my footing and was back in the groove of studying, reading, and taking exams. 

One of the major changes between the undergraduate program and the graduate program was the way our content was taught. In the undergraduate program, most of our lessons were centered around general concepts, introduction to physiological adaptations, and simple exercise science. In the graduate program, however, we learned by reading peer-reviewed literature published in scientific journals and discussing the findings with our professors. This develops critical thinking and research skills–two components that are very important outside of academics. 

In my first semester, I took the following courses:

  • Research Designs and Analysis I

This is part 1 of 3 separate courses in the graduate program designed to help familiarize students with the scientific process of doing research in the field, developing a hypothesis, and conducting an experiment. Most of our coursework revolved around reading various journal articles that were of interest to us and then annotating or reviewing them for our classmates.

  • Clinical Exercise Physiology

This class took concepts of exercise physiology and applied it to clinical practices for populations suffering from a variety of diseases, such as Chronic Heart Failure, Hypertension, CVD, Diabetes, Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, etc. This class also focused on articles published to medical journals discussing intervention of exercise (following the ACSM guidelines) for populations diagnosed with one or more of the aforementioned diseases. This was a very fascinating class that shed light on exercise specialization outside of a typical gym or training setting. All of our research was based on ACSM guidelines!

  • Advanced Biomechanics

This was the most technically challenging course: it involved a ton of mathematical calculations as well as technical aspects of biomechanics. The class was a combination of online lecture and lab-based practice (previously recorded). We learned how to calculate joint angles, assess biomechanical differences in sex, explored pathophysiologies of acute injuries (such as ACL tears), and looked at advanced motion capture technology to assess things like gait kinematics and joint kinetics. 

I recognize AFNA’s curriculum varies from easy to difficult criteria, especially for those in your first quarter. I wanted to highlight some similarities between my course and AFNA’s course. All of our exercise prescription and guidelines came from ACSM’s recommendations. Additionally, all activities conducted in lab-settings required a screening protocol using the PAR-Q+ and evaluation of prior health. I highlight these aspects to refer to the importance of thorough practice using the risk assessments and screening guidelines presented in Chapter 11. 

This is part 1 – I’ll be writing part II for next week to talk about my courses in the second semester!