Bradley Johnson has worked for several years now as a personal trainer, where he helps clients achieve exercise or health goals. He knows that their success usually depends on some sacrifice, on pushing beyond their own limits to reach new heights.
Fortunately, Johnson knows a little something about motivation.
This summer, he began taking classes in Carroll’s Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Performance Coaching program, directly following his graduation from UW-Parkside with a degree in psychology.
Parkside was his second go at college. He tried it straight after high school but left for what he thought would be his career at one of those parcel delivery firms. He stayed there for about eight years but he began to have second thoughts about the job. Working multiple shifts was taking a toll—he wasn’t sleeping very well.
And then there was that nagging feeling he wasn’t following his dreams. “I really wanted to do something exercise related,” he recounted.
He enrolled at UW–Parkside and majored in psychology, after an adviser at the school suggested that the major would position him well for a number of different grad programs. In his final year at Parkside, he began researching graduate programs in the area and met Dr. Timothy Suchomel, an assistant professor of exercise science at Carroll. “He was so excited about the program at Carroll,” Johnson said, that it put Carroll on his radar.
This past April, Johnson attended the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Wisconsin state clinic at Carroll (Suchomel is the clinic’s state director and member of the NSCA’s Great Lakes Regional advisory board). At the clinic, he met other Carroll faculty and students. “The enthusiasm and passion they exhibited really sold me on the program here,” Johnson said.
This June, he took the plunge, and became a student in Carroll’s sport physiology and performance coaching graduate program. At 34, he is older than many of his fellow students, but he considers that a benefit. “I feel like being older is an advantage,” he said. “When I was 18 or 19 and taking classes, I just wasn’t as knowledgeable about life in the outside world.” Or as disciplined.
Working, particularly a job with multiple shifts, has taught him how to better manage time. And dealing with supervisors has helped give him a clearer understanding of expectations and what professors are looking for.
Johnson’s wife is on board (the couple have a son, born earlier this spring). “I knew it was going to be tough, balancing everything,” he said, “but she is very understanding and supportive.” There are sacrifices—free time is at a minimum—but he reminds himself that Carroll’s program is a whip-fast 15 months. It will be over before he knows it.
At this age and with a family, it’s far easier to commit to than a two or three-year program, he said.
His ultimate goal would be a position as a strength and conditioning coach, particularly at a college, though he has also contemplated teaching.
Until then, there are classes to attend and clients to help. It’s a hectic schedule, but Johnson finds that his job and his studies weave together well. Dealing with his clients provide real-world experiences that he can build upon in class. And the knowledge and skills he gains in the classroom deepen his self-confidence and add to his credibility with clients.