Strength & Conditioning

Central College is at the forefront of the strength and conditioning field, not only in providing sophisticated and highly individualized training programs for athletes but with an academic component through a unique strength and conditioning major within the kinesiology program. Through classroom study and practicums, Central’s program prepares students for professional opportunities. Many other colleges and universities hire Central College graduates to lead their own strength and conditioning programs.

In 2022, Central’s strength and conditioning program became the first college in Iowa to earn accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Strength and Conditioning Programs — demonstrating Central’s commitment to the highest standard of excellence for its students, faculty and athletes. This process ensures that Central graduates are well prepared to enter the strength and conditioning profession with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to meet industry standards and keep athletes safe.

In 2023, the program earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of the Exercise Sciences. Central’s kinesiology program is the only accredited program in Iowa and one of 99 in the nation.

CASCE Accreditation Logo

first-time pass rate over last three years for graduates who earned CSCS Certification
of 2022 graduates are attending top programs in related fields or working in the field
of strength and conditioning program students are actively involved in Central athletics

The Central Difference

Gain Professional Certification

To practice as a strength and conditioning coach, you must first pass the NSCA’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist examination. In this exam, you will be required to demonstrate competency in many areas, including anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, strength and conditioning. Each student will go through a series of hands-on practicum classes. The practicum classes take place in the Schipper Fitness Center weight room.

Staying on Her Toes

A lifetime of sports participation has prepared Lecturer of Exercise Science Katelin Valster to tackle students’ biggest challenges.

Learn in Nationally Recognized Facilities

You’ll spend a great deal of time in the Ron Schipper Fitness Center, which features a 2,000-square-foot strength and conditioning area. In Central’s state-of-the-art kinesiology building, the Helen Jean Hislop Center, you’ll find a dedicated classroom that features taping stations and exam tables instead of desks. The human performance lab features a hydrostatic underwater weighing tank, one of only three in the Midwest. The building uses LCD screens and classroom capture technology.

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Luke Pavlat ’22, Athletic Trainer, Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy, Pella, Iowa
  • Andrue Wright ’21, Graduate Assistant, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee
  • John Ghibellini ’20, Graduate Assistant, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota
  • Tristin Clark ’19, Strength and Conditioning Coach, US Military
  • Kohle Helle ’17, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Jessie Peterson ’17, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Iowa Falls-Alden High School, Iowa Falls, Iowa
  • Sam Schmitz ’17, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa
  • Dakota Dailey ’16, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
  • Monica Ruiz ’16, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Central College, Pella, Iowa
  • Matthew Barker ’14, Owner, Embark Performance Training, Dallas Center, Iowa
  • Jacob Niedermann ’13, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Charles Friday ’12, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Kentucky Christian University, Grayson, Kentucky
  • Matthew Sagar ’12, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Central College, Pella, Iowa
  • David Young ’12, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Dustyn Baethke ’09, Associate Football Strength and Conditioning Coach, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

Top Stories of 2023 from Central College

The Year-in-Review highlights achievements of Central College.


Strength and conditioning students are asked to become members of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the professional group that strength and conditioning coaches work with.

No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Graduate Placement

  • Austin Peay University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • Colorado State University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • Northwest Missouri State University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • South Dakota State University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • South Dakota University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • St. Cloud State University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • University of Memphis, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • University of Northern Iowa, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach
  • Waldorf University, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach


  • Air Force Academy
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Tulsa
  • Colorado State University
  • Northern Colorado University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • North Dakota State University
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

Formal application to the strength and conditioning program occurs during students’ first year at Central. To enter the program, students must complete prerequisites from the kinesiology department, maintain at least a 2.7 GPA and complete an interview and the required experiences in the strength and conditioning room.

Students progress through an educational sequence that stresses critical thinking skills. Clinical skills are evaluated regularly by faculty and healthcare professionals throughout the four years. The strength and conditioning program is affiliated with kinesiology.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

  • Leslie Duinink, B.A., M.S., Registrar and Associate Professor of Kinesiology
  • Katelin Valster, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Lecturer of Kinesiology
  • Shelli Green, B.A., M.S., D.A.T., Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Clinical Education Coordinator of Kinesiology
  • Kyle Johnson, B.A., M.Ed., Lecturer of Kinesiology and Strength & Conditioning Coordinator
  • Dave Pavlat, B.S., M.S., Ed.D., Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Director of Strength & Conditioning and Personal Training
  • John Roslien, B.S., M.S., Associate Professor of Kinesiology
  • Monica Ruiz, B.A., M.S., Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach
  • Matt Sagar, B.A., M.S., Lecturer of Kinesiology and Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach
  • Sara Shuger Fox, B.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Kinesiology

Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist Exam

Central students consistently excel on the Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Exam, far outperforming the National Pass Rate.

2020-21 2019-20 2018-19 3-year aggregate
Graduates 5 1 1 7
Graduates taking exam 5 1 1 7
Graduates passing exam on first attempt 3 1 1 5
First attempt pass rate 60% 100% 100% 71%
Overall pass rate 100% 83% 100% 94%
Retention rate 100% 100% 100% 100%
Student graduation rate 100% 100% 100% 100%

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • Theory and Practical Applications of Skill-Related Fitness
  • Theory and Practical Applications of Health-Related Fitness
  • Foundations of Health and Exercise Science
  • First Aid and Sports Injuries
  • Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology + Lab
  • Psychology

Sophomore Year

  • Practicum in Strength & Conditioning I
  • Human Anatomy and Kinesiology
  • Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription

Junior Year

  • Principles and Theories of Strength & Conditioning
  • Practicum in Strength &  Conditioning II
  • Sport Nutrition
  • Introduction to Statistics or Applied Statistics

Senior Year

  • Biomechanics
  • Practicum in Strength & Conditioning III
  • Exercise Physiology + Lab


Learn More

Want to find out more about Strength & Conditioning at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.


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