The Student Newspaper of Highline College

Tim Vagen

Personal Fitness Trainer program presses on despite restrictions

Elba Quijano Staff Reporter Oct 08, 2020

Highline’s Personal Fitness Trainer program is managing to go the distance.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown of campus, the program is continuing to offer classes for students hoping to become fitness trainers. Program Manager Tim Vagen said they are offering classes online and virtually to help students complete their degrees.

“We’re doing everything online, like most of our programs, which becomes very difficult to teach exercise online,” said Vagen, who has led the program for 12 years.

“It’s a real challenge. I think trying to keep students engaged has been a big challenge, but we’re managing through a lot of videos,” he said.

The program offers both a certificate and an associate of applied science degree in personal fitness training. Classes offered this quarter include an orientation course, Exercise Science, Components of Exercise, and Functional Movement. Students are also required to get an internship, which is currently a challenge with local gyms either closed or restricted.

‘’It’s been really tough because gyms in the area are closed,” he sai. “So when trying to do internships and trying to get students out there working, it’s been a real challenge because of the closure of the gyms.”

Even for the classes over which they have control, Vagen said there are challenges.

“Not being able to do more practical hands on teaching, that’s probably the biggest obstacle,” he said. “A lot of education happens when students are working out themselves and they have questions or they’re going to gyms and they see things going on in the gym.”

Nonetheless, Vagen said he and the other professors are committed to providing the best education they can for their students.

“We have been continuously looked at as one of the top personal fitness training education programs in the country,” he said.

Although students can’t go to gyms right now, Vagen said they make sure none of the learning time gets wasted. Students are assigned to review YouTube videos, Facetime with peers, and he even makes videos himself so his students can get more visuals of the lessons offered.

Vagen said he values his students and believes that his professional relationships with students will have an impact on them.

“I get really close with my students they get to know me really well,” he said. “I support them in many different ways, whether it’s professionally or personally. I do one-on-one Zoom call, so students feel like someone cares.” For more information on the program, visit