Exercise science continues as BYU’s most popular major

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Shelby Firouzi with a client at “the bod pod.” Firouzi goes over the results of the test with each client which shows an assessment of his or her body composition. (Y Be Fit)

The halls of the Richard’s Building and Smith Field House are crowded with students, but not everyone is there for a half-credit class or an hour of lifting weights. Those buildings are also home to what BYU recently reported as its most popular major: exercise science.

Some say that one of the reasons for the major’s popularity over BYU’s more than 178 majors is its flexible and time-efficient track to graduation.

Sarah Ridge, an exercise science professor at BYU, asks her students each semester why they take her course.

“A lot of them say it’s a relatively short major,” Ridge said. “It’s easy to work the (prerequisites) for professional school.”

Desiree Tran, a BYU exercise science graduate, echoed what Ridge’s students usually tell her.

“Many people told me, ‘In the end, exercise science is the best route for you, because the other majors are longer,'” Tran said.

Tran has two different jobs which in which she is able to use her knowledge of exercise science. She works in the front office of a dental office and coaches tennis. She explained that she utilizes her knowledge of exercise science in both jobs.

“If something is hurting (a player), I have to know which muscles are causing the injury, good stretches and good rehab,” Tran said.

She also said she is able to recognize a lot of vocabulary at the dental office because of the anatomy classes she took as part of the major.

Ridge, like Tran, studied exercise science as an undergraduate and enjoyed seeing how the topics apply to the human body more than with a major like biology or chemistry.

“I liked looking at how the human body works, but I didn’t particularly like cellular level type things. Getting down to biology and chemistry, some of those things were less interesting to me,” Ridge said.

Shelby Firouzi, an employee of Y Be Fit and a BYU exercise science graduate, said exercise science can be a good major for anyone.

“I feel like what you learn in exercise science is in some way applicable to every person. Everybody is trying to be healthy,” Firouzi said.

Students also like the hands-on nature of the classes, according to Ridge.

“We’ve got fun classes,” Ridge said. “Everybody tries to make things interactive, so people seem to like the major.”

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