If Dr. Stacy Bishop does his job correctly, the students who graduate from his program could make anyone Batman.
That is to say, graduates of the newly minted Exercise and Nutrition Science Program will have the means to design custom fitness routines capable of whipping any client into crimefighting shape.
Bishop, the coordinator of the program formerly known as kinesiology, has worked for the past two years with his fellow faculty to completely overhaul the degree program.
According to Bishop, “kinesiology” is an outdated term when describing the rapid evolution of his field. “We’re not all just PE teachers,” said Bishop. “We’re not just teaching. We’re much more science-based than a lot of people realize.”
Bishop explained that as the cultural importance of physical health has risen, so has the need for properly trained experts.
“Part of it is, we realize how important physical activity is to health and to reducing the relative risk of premature development of cardiovascular disease,” said Bishop.
According to the assistant professor, this is evidenced in the way businesses like Google and Nike have implemented corporate fitness and wellness programs to ensure their employees are performing at the top of their game.
Bishop saw this growth firsthand through his many years studying fitness. In college, Bishop played baseball and football but cited a graduate class in exercise physiology as the true ignition to his passion.
“It took everything that I kind of already thought about exercise, and it expanded on it. I knew that I enjoyed it, but I didn’t really tie that together with some of these other biology courses that I had taken, like anatomy and physiology.”
After a few years teaching and coaching at the community college level, Bishop left his home state of Texas to pursue a Ph.D. at The University of Alabama. When he arrived at UM in 2014 after a few years teaching at Texas A&M, the University’s Kinesiology Department was experiencing major faculty turnover.
This is only Bishop’s third year at UM, meaning he leapt quickly from serving as an assistant professor to adding the coordination of an entirely new program. “I felt like we were just treading water and weren’t moving in the right direction as I saw it for the future of the discipline. So when I got the opportunity to take the reins, I was very excited,” said Bishop.
With exercise and nutrition science now in its first full semester, Bishop and his faculty have their sights set on maintaining their new trajectory and implementing a new master’s program possibly by next year.
According to Bishop, these adjustments are made with close feedback from the kinesiology program’s alumni in the field.
“Where our students are going helps us dictate how we need to prepare them. If they’re not going into the field, we need to adjust what we’re doing,” said Bishop.