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Associate Degree in Applied Exercise and Fitness

Advance Your Personal Training, Exercise, & Fitness Skills

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Career Outlook and Growth

Looking for a career where you can stay fit and change lives? A professional fitness and personal training career provides both. It all starts with the right skills, knowledge and credentials, which Bryan University’s programs give you. We fast track you to success – so you can launch your career and start making a difference sooner.

Expanding Careers

Careers for health and fitness professionals, instructors, and personal trainers are projected to grow faster than average through the year 2030 at a rate of 15% or higher with projected job openings of 69,100 in the US.1

Preparing now means you’ll be ready for the jobs of the future.

Diverse Employers

Health and fitness professionals have a range of opportunities for employment such as:

  • Gyms and fitness facilities
  • Corporate fitness centers
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Self-employment

Attractive Career Opportunities

In this growing industry, an Associate Degree in Applied Exercise and Fitness can put you on the path to a fulfilling career opportunities2 including:

  • Certified Personal Trainer
  • Gym Staff Member
  • Independent Trainer/Contractor
  • Nutrition/Supplement Store Associate
  • Fitness/Wellness Coordinator
  • Certified Group Exercise Instructor
  • Fitness Educator

Program Overview

The associate degree program at Bryan University in Applied Exercise and Fitness (AFIT) offers you a broad range of learning competencies. You'll receive interactive learning experiences, live coaching and feedback, and in-depth health and fitness expertise.

The AFIT program was designed based on current competencies outlined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) so you learn the skills employers demand.

Gain the Skills Employers and Entrepreneurs Need

As a student at Bryan University, you’ll gain extensive knowledge in our interactive classrooms from faculty who have real-world industry experience. Your AFIT courses will provide all of the skills and competencies contained in the Personal Trainer Undergraduate Certificate program, including body sciences, nutrition, personal trainer cert preparation, design of fitness programs, motivational techniques, and sales fundamentals. In addition, AFIT provides:

  • Group exercise instruction
  • Weight management, diet and nutrition
  • Cardio-respiratory and flexibility programming
  • Gym operations
  • Building a fitness business and fitness finance
  • Speaking and presenting
  • Writing and communications

When you receive an accredited degree from Bryan University coupled with the credibility of a personal trainer certification, you’re immediately prepared for the job market.

Exceptional Value

Your investment in a Bryan University education will open doors to new career opportunities and provide you the following benefits:

  • Cost to take a national certification through NASM is included in the program tuition (or receive course credit if you already hold a NASM credential)
  • Cost for all books, technology, and courseware are included in the program tuition
  • Accelerated program so you can start and finish fast – saving you time and money and helping you get to work sooner
  • Job search assistance from the Career Services team
  • Graduates can return and audit courses for free to recharge their skills
  • Student support services, including mentoring, tutoring, and technical support
  • Financial aid is available for those who qualify

An Online Learning Experience Like No Other

At Bryan University, we believe that success in the field of health and fitness training demands a different approach to education. That’s why we’re dedicated to building a more innovative, interactive learning environment that adapts to your unique needs and provides you with individual coaching and feedback.

For students choosing the Online learning option, you’ll receive:

  • Live webcam interactions with instructors and experts right from home (webcams provided to all students)
  • Collaborative networking with peers
  • Adaptive learning using an interactive engine that helps you learn and retain more
  • Performance reports to help you track your progress and stay on top
  • Mobile-compatible video app that allows you to demonstrate proficiency and easily upload assignments
  • Timely, targeted coaching and feedback personalized to your needs

For students living in Phoenix or the surrounding area, you'll have the option to attend our modern campus located in Tempe, Arizona. We invite you to visit our campus for a tour of the facilities, plus you'll have the opportunity to meet and speak with instructors. Please complete the Request Information form or call 888-768-6861 to learn more.

Continue to the Bachelor's Degree Level
Once you complete your AFIT associate degree, you may consider continuing your education at the bachelor's degree level. Bryan University offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Science, Fitness, and Nutrition Management developed in partnership with industry experts. All credits earned in the PTUC and AFIT programs fully transfer into the bachelor's degree.

Career Services for Students and Graduates

You’ll receive a dedicated career services advisor that provides job search assistance, job networking best practices, interview preparation, and helps you create an eye-catching resume.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program and other important information, please visit our consumer information page.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2021-22 Edition, on the Internet at Also see Sites visited 1/15/2022. Also, job market conditions are dynamic and can change. This data is not intended to predict the market conditions that will be present when you graduate from your program and may differ based on your geographic location and other factors.

2 Example occupations shown herein do not imply a guarantee of employment. Students are responsible for conducting occupational research for their chosen program. Employers have unique hiring practices and job-specific requirements, which may include years of experience for manager positions. Graduates with little to no prior experience should expect an entry-level position.

Program Details​

Objectives & Courses
Locations & Credits
Program Faculty
General Education Faculty
Admission Requirements
Affording College


The Associate Degree in Applied Exercise and Fitness prepares students to become well-rounded and specialized in their exercise, fitness, and personal training knowledge. Graduates of the program build on their fundamental personal training knowledge by learning about the business elements of being a personal trainer and gaining specialized knowledge in group training theory, small group training, and weight management. Following the completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Apply knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics to training strategies.
  • Effectively communicate the impact of nutrition on the human body for a variety of clientele.
  • Perform fitness assessments on clients.
  • Create and enhance individualized exercise programs based on a thorough needs analysis with a variety of clientele.
  • Teach and perform foundational, advanced, sport-specific movement patterns and exercises.
  • Develop enhanced communication skills and techniques to obtain and retain clients.
  • Create, utilize and deliver more advanced strategies for client behavior change using various psychological models for health promotion.
  • Influence client behavior through an empathetic, confident, and enthusiastic attitude.
  • Demonstrate core values and ethics critical to the field of personal training.
  • Recognize the value of lifelong professional development in the field of personal training.
  • Choose weight management strategies that are appropriate for client goals and lifestyles.
  • Explain the elements of operating a small fitness business.
  • Create realistic financial projections, including sessions rendered, re-sign business, and new business.
  • Design and instruct small group training sessions.


UNV-101S—Student Success and Technology Foundations—3.0 credits
A course covering the information and skills needed to succeed in academic studies, including study skills, setting academic goals, managing time, and technology skills such as word processing and presentations.

PTD-100—Personal Training and Sales Fundamentals—3.0 credits
This course provides an introduction to the field of personal training along with the fundamental skills necessary to be an effective salesperson in the field. The history of personal training, professional organizations, certifications, and career tracks in the field are discussed. Students learn about communication skills, interviewing, steps of the sale, and fundamentals of professional conduct and ethics. Additionally, students learn the primal movement patterns and gain practical experience performing many common exercises and movement patterns that will be utilized with their clients.

PTD-101—Body Sciences I—3.0 credits
This course will provide an in-depth look at basics principles of kinesiology, including planes of motion, joints of movement, and joint actions.

PTD-102—Body Sciences II—3.0 credits
This course will provide an in-depth look at how the human body systems interact and function in relation to exercise and movement. Students will learn the various parts and functions of the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems.

PTD-103—Client Intake and Assessment—3.0 credits
This course covers the fundamentals of conducting health screenings and risk stratifications, as well as tests such as body fat, cardiovascular condition, and various performance tests.

PTD-104— Programming Basics I—3.0 credits
This course covers the fundamentals of designing resistance training, cardiorespiratory training, and flexibility programs. The course focuses on training session components and appropriate exercise selection, progression, and program design variables for resistance and cardiorespiratory training.

PTD-105—Programming Basics II—3.0 credits
This course covers the fundamentals of advanced training programs. The course focuses on appropriate exercise selection, progression, and program design variables for advanced programs and special populations.

PTD-106— Nutrition Fundamentals—3.0 credits
This course covers the fundamentals of nutrition and how food is used by the human body. Students will be able to identify healthy food sources for the various nutrients and decipher reliable and unreliable nutritional information.

PTD-107—Behavior Management—3.0 credits
This course is an introduction to the motivation behind behavior change as it relates to physical activity behaviors. Topics include goal setting, motivating clients, developing an action plan, and communication strategies needed to inspire and sustain long-term healthy habits.

PTD-110—Exam and Career Preparation—3.0 credits
This course prepares students to take the NASM certification exam, paying particular attention to test-taking skills and improvement of weak areas of knowledge, skill, and ability. Students also prepare for their career through resume building activities and interview roleplays.

EXE-200—Fitness Management—3.0 credits
This course covers the fundamentals of operating a small fitness business. Course topics include strategy and mission development, financial fitness, laws and regulations, operations, and building the future of the business.

EXE-205—Group Training Theory—3.0 credits
This course provides students with the basic theory and skills needed to be an effective group training professional. Students learn how to set up programs and instruct sessions for group training in a variety of settings and with a variety of group training modalities.

EXE-210—Applied Group Training—3.0 credits
This practical, applied class provides students the opportunity to demonstrate what they learned in Group Training Theory. Students will apply best practices as a group exercise instructor, including class design, communication skills, coaching and cueing, and progression and regression.

EXE-215—Weight Management—3.0 credits
This course focuses on making dietary recommendations to address common health concerns and achieve effective and permanent changes in weight. Students practice calorie balancing and learn about weight loss planning, answering common client question, the roles of exercise and sleep on weight maintenance, and weight plateaus.

EXE-220—Cardiorespiratory and Flexibility Programming—3.0 credits
This course covers the foundations of cardiovascular programming and flexibility programming. Cardiovascular programming centers on creating and progressing programs for individuals looking to improve health, athletic performance, and body composition. Flexibility topics are focused on observing limitations or deficiencies and designing flexibility and stretching programs for various populations.

CRT-110S—Critical Thinking—3.0 credits
This course provides foundational topics related to logic and critical thinking including, informal logic, formal logic, and fallacies.

COM-210S—Speaking and Presenting—3.0 credits
This course covers the fundamentals of public speaking in today’s society. Topics include how to write a quality speech and how to clearly and confidently speak in public forums, including social media and blogs.

ENG-110S—English Composition I—3.0 credits
This course covers written communication skills with an emphasis on understanding the writing process, analyzing readings, and practicing writing for personal and professional applications.

ENG-112S—English Composition II—3.0 credits
A course building on lessons learned in English Composition I. In addition to reviewing the writing process, topics include research techniques, citation techniques, documentation formats, and critical analysis of written topics.

MAT-110S—Algebra I—3.0 credits
This course begins with a review of real numbers and algebraic expressions before covering algebra topics including linear equations and inequalities, lines and functions, systems, exponents, polynomials, and factoring.

Note that courses are subject to change based upon employer needs and marketplace requirements. The most up-to-date course descriptions can be found in the Bryan University Course Catalog.

Program offered 100% online.

Program credits:
To complete the program, students must earn a minimum of 60 semester credits, 30 of which include the Personal Trainer Undergraduate Certificate (PTUC) program.

Transfer credits:
If you apply to Bryan University with prior college credits and/or a degree, we’ll accept as many credits as possible to validate the hard work you’ve already completed. If you complete a Bryan U associate degree or undergraduate certificate, these credits are transferable to a higher degree, such as a bachelor’s degree.

Dr. Justin Harper
Dr. Justin Harper, EdD, CPT, PES

Program Director, Bryan University

Degrees earned:

  • Grand Canyon University: Doctorate in Organizational Leadership w/emphasis in Behavioral Health Education
  • University of South Dakota: Masters in Health and Recreation w/emphasis in Exercise Science
  • University of South Dakota: Bachelors in Health, Recreation, and Physical Education


  • Certified Personal Trainer (NASM) and Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM)

Contributions to the fitness field:

  • Serve on a per diem basis as a content expert helping to write test questions for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and personal train clients looking to improve their health.

Areas of interest/specialties within the fitness industry:

  • Online/virtual personal training

Personal interests outside of fitness:

  • Playing basketball, listening to music, and am a huge football fan. Go 49ers!!
Kyle Thompson
Kyle Thompson

Assistant Program Director, Bryan University

Degree(s) earned:

  • Northeastern University - Master’s in Nutrition
  • Kansas State University - Bachelor's in Exercise Physiology


  • ACSM - CPT
  • CF - L1

Contributions to the fitness field:

  • 13+ years coaching and training in a plethora of realms including; Powerlifting, BodyBuilding, Strength and Conditioning, and post rehabilitation.
  • 7+ years of nutrition and exercise instructing at the collegiate level
  • Co-Host of The Optimal Human Podcast. A podcast exploring the many realms of human health and performance.
  • 7+ years of online coaching

Areas of interest/specialties within the fitness industry:

  • Nutrition Physiology
  • Nutrition for Performance
  • Exercise Physiology

Personal interests outside of fitness:

  • Nutrition and disease mitigation
  • Wrenching on classic muscle cars
  • Digital production

Anything you would want students to know about you:

  • If you have me in class, expect a relaxed and inviting environment. I am just a normal guy who spends a lot of time reading and learning about things that interest me. I enjoy passing on any and all knowledge. So, don’t hesitate to ask questions. I’ll answer if I can or I will point you in the direction to find the answer.

Favorite quote:

  • “For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” - JFK

This quote can be applied to all aspects of life. Explore the why behind the opinion.

Kate Timp
Kate Timp

Lead Faculty, Bryan University

Degree(s) earned: 

  • BS Finance, Arizona State University
  • MS Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University


  • Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM)

Contributions to the fitness field:

  • I qualified for and ran the 2011 Boston Marathon after 4 failed attempts at qualifying. Personal and Group training business owner.

Areas of interest/specialties within the fitness industry:

  • Nutrition, kettlebell training, yoga

Personal interests outside of fitness:

  • Watch my sons play baseball

What I want my students to know about me:

  • I love teaching and am 100% vested in your success!
Valerie Akbulut portrait
Valerie Akbulut

Instructor, Bryan University

MA in Interpersonal Communication, University of Central Florida; MA in Multicultural Communication, DePaul University; BA in Journalism, Integrated Communications: Public Relations and Advertising, Butler University

Kelly Baker portrait
Kelly Baker

Instructor, Bryan University

DPA in Public Administration from West Chester University; MA in Communication Studies from West Chester University and BA in Communications from Immaculata University

Emily Chaffin

Instructor, Bryan University

MA in English, Arkansas State University; BA in English, Faulkner University

Christina Hammerton

Instructor, Bryan University

MA in Creative Writing, Arizona State University; BA, Psychology, Kent State University

To be admitted to Bryan University, prospective students must complete the following requirements:
  • Earn a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Be at least 17 years of age. If a student is under the age of 18, they will be required to have a parent or legal guardian counter-sign enrollment forms.
  • Fill out the University’s Application and pay a $25 registration fee.
  • Complete an interview with an Admissions Representative. Please call 888-768-6861 or complete the Request Information form to schedule this.
  • Pass a computer and internet speed assessment to ensure technology minimums are met. Please see the university’s course catalog to see detailed technology requirements.
  • Complete all required forms for admission.
  • For transfer credit evaluation, submit official transcripts from past colleges and universities attended.
  • Complete an online introductory course – “LaunchPad” – to demonstrate the ability to navigate online coursework.
  • Note that students applying to healthcare programs may need to identify a practicum site. The university provides a list of approved practicum sites and will support students in site selection.
To begin this process, we invite you to contact a member of our admissions team at 888-768-6861 or complete the Request Information form.

Tuition Lock Guarantee
Bryan offers affordable tuition rates for all students, no matter where they reside. We don't differentiate between residents or non-residents. We also lock-in your tuition rate when you enroll, so you can rest assured that your tuition will never increase over the length of your program.

Tuition Goes Down the Longer You're in School
We understand the importance of helping you stay in school and graduate successfully. To help motivate you, we provide tuition discounts the longer you're in school.

Financing Options Available
As an accredited institution, students of Bryan University who are residents of the United States may qualify for federal financial aid. Our team of dedicated financial advisors can also help you understand what other options are available to you. To learn more, please visit our financial aid page.

For students who are veterans or active-duty members of the U.S. military, you may also use your military educational benefits, if qualified. Please see our military benefits page for more details.

You may also complete the Request Information form or call us at 888-721-9773 to receive immediate assistance.

The Bryan U Difference​

Tuition Lock Guarantee​

We lock your tuition rate once you enroll, plus tuition goes down the longer you're in school.​

Job Search Assistance

We provide students job search assistance while in school and once they graduate.

Accelerated Programs

You can get started - and finish - fast.

Welcome Kits Included

Once you enroll, we provide you a welcome kit package to ensure you're ready to start school.

Faculty Who Put You First

Our faculty provide you with personalized, individual attention and support.

Electronic Books & Courseware Included

We provide easy access to all your electronic textbooks and courseware.

Focus on Employment

You’ll graduate with a degree targeted for a specific job market and earn skills that match employers’ needs.

Learn by Doing

You’ll develop real-world skills by completing simulated job tasks and using industry technologies.

Return for Refresher Classes

As a graduate, you’ll have the privilege of auditing previously completed courses still being taught—at no charge—to keep your skills sharp.
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