Interdisciplinarity in Business

One of the first experiences I had with the Interdisciplinarity of business is with my mom’s personal training gym. Before I had any idea what interdisciplinarity meant, I would have never thought of how different businesses operate in this way and how many different parts go into it to make it function accordingly. At my moms gym, the foundation starts with the personal trainers. There are five trainers at her small gym in particular, and they are almost the core of the business. People are attracted to the gym because they want assistance with their health from these professional certified trainers. Besides the trainers, the business obviously has to be supported. My mom, as the manger and owner is in charge of the schedules, finances and overall operation of the facility.

Another huge aspect of personal training is marketing. Personal trainers make their living by brining in the necessary clientele to ultimetly make

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them money. How do they scure new clients? It’s all about marketing. Marketing and business knowledge are good skill sets to have in almost any profession, but with personal training, gaining clients is all about marketing yourself. My moms gym in particular doesn’t rely on the trainer to acquire all their clients, although that is common in this field. For marketing, my mom has hired a marketing director to handle how to properly market the business to bring in new clients. This also means updating their social media accounts daily, which is a huge aspect of this growing field.

Interdisciplinarity is present in almost every business you look at. There are multiple parts of a business that needed to operate together to make any company run efficiently. In my opinion, this is why the same approach works so well with learning. If most careers require an interdisciplinary approach, shouldn’t the education reflect that as well?


Why Interdisciplinary?

The world of Interdisciplinary learning is still relatively new to me. It wasn’t until Spring semester of last year that I was encouraged to look into the program offered at PSU by my advisor at the time. Since then, my knowledge of what Interdisciplinary learning is has grown tremendously. It’s crazy to think that less than a year ago I didn’t even know the Interdisciplinary program existed. Fast forward to now, I can already see the impact it has had on my education and my ability to obtain the degree I believe will help me to be most successful after my time at Plymouth State.

“Interdisciplinarity is best seen as bringing together distinctive components of two or more disciplines.” My major, Health and Fitness Marketing could definitely be see as a fruit smoothie approach. This means that the two components of my major blend together and mold the unique major I have

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decided to create myself. In the past I struggled with which route to take my degree. I was divided for so long about whether I should focus my education on business or health. This decision definetly slowed me down for a while because I feel very passionately about with disiplines. To finally figure out that I did not have to focus on just one course of study was such a breakthrough for my education.

Being so new to the program, I haven’t been exposed to much Interdisciplinary learning so far. One thing that has stood out to me, is the process of registering for classes. In the past having several different majors throughout the years myself, I always struggled with certain classes that I know I was required to take, but just didn’t seem very beneficial or interesting to me. Now that I’ve created my own customized program, I’ve had the ability to select courses with the assistance of my advisors that I feel will help me the most to develop the knowledge I need in all aspects of my major, not just one specific discipline. Having the ability to not have to choose between two disciplines I love has made me much more motivated to prove the Interdisciplinary approach is the way to go.

Health and Fitness Marketing

I came to Plymouth State University three years ago, unsure of what direction I wanted to go. I spent the majority of my time here as an undecided major, constantly thinking about what my future at PSU would look like, or if I would even have one. It was not until my second semester at Plymouth State that I discovered an intense passion for health and fitness. I would spend hours every night at the HUB gym releasing all my frustration and stress. At the time, I was going through a lot personally and I truly believe that my newfound passion for fitness was exactly what I needed during such a difficult time in my life.

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my mother about a year ago. She told me that as a kid growing up I never finished much. I would play a sport for a while, then get tired of it, pick up new hobbies and then move on to something different. I always had a new favorite thing whether it was a movie or food, every couple weeks it would change. Despite this continuous pattern of mine, health and fitness was the first thing my parents have seen me light up about more and more as time went on as opposed to seeing that light dim over time. After discovering the health and fitness world, I decided in my sophomore year of college to leave an unhealthy relationship, better myself mentally and physically, and devote my life to sharing this new passion of mine. Since making these lifestyle changes I am healthier and happier than I have ever been. After seeing how the fitness industry has impacted my life, I have decided my mission is to teach others as a fitness instructor so that they could know what healthier living could do for them.

The first experience I had training an individual was with my mother. She was roughly 70 pounds overweight and suffered from high blood pressure that required medication. Although I was only learning, and still am, I convinced my mom to let me show her how these lifestyle adjustments could change her perspective on health, fitness, and life in general. Reluctantly, she agreed and after many weight training sessions, meal plans and a lot of hard work, my mother successfully lost all of her excess weight and became a much healthier individual. Ironically enough, my mom was so inspired and passionate about this new lifestyle, just as I was, that she decided to open her own personal training gym in our hometown. Being able to coach someone that had very little knowledge of health and fitness, and knowing I was a small part of my mom’s new passion to live a healthy and inspiring life is indescribable. This motivated me even more to push myself towards creating a degree I know will benefit my future career immensely.

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At first glance, a degree in Health Promotion seemed like exactly what I was looking for. I began taking some health-related courses last year but still felt there was something missing. My dream is to open my own personal training gym one day and be able to train clients online as well as in my own gym, one on one. Although a Health Promotion degree would help me towards this goal, I felt as though combining a health degree and a business degree is exactly what my future goals require. Just last semester, not having any knowledge of the Interdisciplinary program at PSU, I never thought this would be possible. Luckily enough, I met with an amazing advisor to discuss my options, and found out about the possibilities of receiving an Interdisciplinary degree. This option seems like the perfect fit for me to build my knowledge in the health and fitness industry as well as the necessary knowledge and foundation I need to start my own business.

I’ve carefully selected classes I believe will benefit my future in the health and business fields. BU 2450 Principles of Marketing was one of the first business classes I took at PSU which taught me a lot about different aspects on how to market a business. Having the knowledge I do about my mom’s gym, I know marketing is a huge part of this industry. BU 3340 Consumer Behavior covered a lot of information on what consumers look for and how to better market towards the demands and needs of consumers. BU 3370 Branding and Marketing Communication teaches you how to make your brand stand out from competitors through advertising and marketing strategies. This class has taught me how to analyze data and figure out the best marketing techniques to maximize profits. BU 3480 Social Media Strategy focuses on promoting your business through the always changing social media, and the power of communicating and engaging with consumers through different social media platforms. This will be particularly important for the online portion of my future business. BU 4260 Interpersonal Relations teaches necessary managerial, communication and problem-solving skills required to run a successful business. BU 3420 Organizational behavior is another course I plan to take at Plymouth State that develops leadership skills, organization skills and other core things that are necessary when owning a business.

In regards to the health portion of my major, I have selected classes that are not only extremely interesting to me, but will give me the necessary knowledge I need to be a successful part of the health and fitness industry. HE 2400 Physical Activity and Health provides me with a foundation for examining health and fitness, assessing fitness and learning about exercise guidelines. HE 3200 Stress Management provides you with different modes of managing stress, which is a big contributor to weight gain. PE 2428 Flexibility, Core and Balance Training provides instruction necessary for health fitness professionals including preforming, analyzing and instructing a variety of physical activity applications. PE 1999 Health Risk Appraisal is a course I had transferred from a previous college. It provided me with important knowledge on how to safely preform exercises including proper form and posture and how to analyze the body to avoid injury during physical activity. PE 2755 Intro to Exercise Science Profession /Essentials for Exercise Science is the other class I had transferred to PSU that grew my knowledge in the fitness field a lot. This course covered basics of exercise science including nutrition, analyzing body composition, developing workout plans for clients and how to conduct meetings with new and potential clients. PE 3570 Kinesiology is the study of human movement, which for a fitness professional is key to understanding proper form during movement. In order to be prepared for these classes I will be taking several other courses including anatomy and physiology as well as Resistance Training techniques but did not include those in my contract.

PE 2850 Wellness Choices for a Healthy Active Lifestyle is a class that taught me how to encourage positive healthy goals in all aspects of life. This included nutrition, fitness, weight management and body image, among many other aspects of health. PE 3580 Physiology of Exercise teaches you about how the body functions during physical activity to understand the effects of exercise on the cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal systems. PE 4010 Exercise and Health Psychology focuses on physical activity behavior including health behaviors, psychological growth and different techniques to enhance the health of other individuals.

I believe the combination of these courses will provide me with the degree and foundation I need to create a successful personal training business. Instead of just having vast knowledge in one of these fields, receiving a degree that is both business and health/fitness focused will prepare me that much more for my future in owning my own personal training business. I am extremely grateful to have found a career path that I am not only passionate about, but that the Interdisciplinary program has allowed me to create.

Dr. Barbara McCahan: Health Education and Promotion

After spending three years at Plymouth State University, I’ve realized how difficult it is to focus solely on one subject. Not only have I seen this academically, but my interview with Barbara McCahan confirmed that in the professional world it is not much different. Narrowing a major down to one specific field has seemed impossible to me over the years, which is why I’m excited to see where my Interdisciplinary major will take me. It’s comforting to know that many other people, Dr. McCahan included, have widened their education far beyond just one course of study.

To start off the interview I asked Barbara a couple simple questions about what subject she teaches. She explained that she teaches in the Health Education and Promotion program. This includes classes in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Health, Program Planning, Promoting Health Across the Lifespan, as well as other courses in the major. Next I asked what she studied in grad school and if that differs from her current studies. She then explained that she was trained as a cell biologist and migrated into the health and fitness world later in her career. The start of her academic research is a little different that her current work which is primarily in the area of health behavior change at the community level.


Barbara McCahan

After gaining more knowledge on what Dr. McCahan’s schooling was like, I then asked her about what aspects of her work interest her the most. She told me that she is a very eclectic person who loves to work between disciplines. She is very passionate about music, history, philosophy, art and science and never turns down an opportunity to collaborate between different studies. When asked if she did a lot collaboration work, Barbara McCahan’s response was that she will always collaborate when possible. She loves to share her work with others despite it usually being a time consuming process.

I then went on to ask how she works with non-academics in her professional life. She told me that she participates in a lot of community service work, especially with local non-profit organizations. Aside from donating her time to the community and school, she is also bank Corporator for Bank of New Hampshire. She is starting to become more active in the world of politics in her free time and also teaches group exercise classes at a local club. Finally I questioned Dr. McCahan about what courses she believes students who major in the Health Education and Promotion major should consider taking outside of that department and its required courses. She explained that courses such as marketing, psychology, biosciences, environmental studies, communications, sociology would all be extremely beneficial to students in the major.

After compiling all the information I learned about Barbara McCahan, I’m extremely impressed and inspired with the wide variety of work she has managed to do over the course of her career. It is amazing to see the possibilities of combining different fields of study and how much you can accomplish with those kinds of collaborations between disciplines. It definitely motives me even more to push forward with my future in Interdisciplinary studies.

Personal Student Web Domains

With the web and social media such a huge part of our society today, allowing students to have their own web domain provided by the college is a huge asset. This gives students the opportunity to publish their work for everyone to see, easily access all of their work from previous classes and start a platform that they can utilize even after graduation. It also encourages students to be more passionate and creative with their work. This is not simply an assignment that is being handing in and only viewed by the professor grading it. It is a chance for students to make their work public and let it represent them as well.

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Gardner Campbell explains in the article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” “Over the course of the first year, in a set of lab seminars facilitated by instructional technologists, librarians, and faculty advisors from across the curriculum, students would build out their digital presences in an environment made of the medium of the web itself”. This should be the standard of every college in order to promote a new age of learning. Providing students with crucial tools and skills that will assist them long after a course ends, and even after graduation will help students tremendously.

Social networking is obviously a huge part of our society today. It provides you the opportunity to connect with people from all different places that you typically would not have access to. It also allows anyone to view your work and reach out to you, which for college students thinking about future careers, is huge. Colleges should be required to meet these changing educational standards by providing students with an outlet to be creative online with their work. Learning no longer relies on just a paper and pen or even in class lectures. The internet  has become such a huge part of students learning experiences that providing them with the tools to create an online presence filled with their work and ideas will definitely be the standard for future learning.