For Kenneth Manning of Stow, The Road to a Rewarding Career in Health and Fitness Began at Minuteman High School in Lexington

ALUminutemanpicMNI SUCCESS STORY When Kenneth Manning of Stow started his four years as a student at Minuteman High School in Lexington in 2003, he could hardly have imagined that his education there would be such an ideal springboard to a flourishing career in health and fitness

"You have to have a drive for whatever you want to do," he remarked. "There's a lot of people [at Minuteman] who are willing to help you. If you're a driven person, there's a lot of opportunity to participate in different things."

Today, Manning, who is 24, reflects on his own time at Minuteman with gratitude and enthusiasm, noting that his training in the school's extremely rigorous Biotechnology program gave him the exact background he required to succeed in college.

"I liked it a lot," said Manning about Minuteman, appreciatively citing the relatively small class size in Biotech (just six or seven students, which made for more individualized help from the instructors), having plenty of time spent allocated to doing lab work, honing his presentation skills, analyzing data and scientific studies, and the fact that the teachers had field experience as well as research credentials.

"In college," Manning said, "the classes I took were lab-based. Because of Biotech, I knew how to do lab reports. That put me a step ahead."

During most of his high school days, Manning said that his professional goals were still ambiguous. By the time he was a junior or senior, though, Manning recalled, he was apparently starting to head in the direction of a position that combined health, fitness and sports, the last of which he said he always loved.

Manning went on to earn two degrees – a bachelor's from Springfield College in 2011 in Applied Exercise Science, and a master's from Northeastern University in 2013 in Clinical Exercise Physiology.

As Manning explained, the field of Applied Exercise Science can be either clinical or athlete-based. The former, he said, encompasses structured exercise programs geared to getting someone back to health, cardiac stress testing, and getting recommendations from a patient's cardiologist.

Manning enhanced his classroom work with practical experience galore in several Boston-area gyms and sports clubs doing personal training. In fact, while he was attending Northeastern, he did two 25-hour-a-week internships combined with 15 to 20 hours weekly doing personal training for clients.

One of the most fulfilling experiences Manning had was at Boston Children's Hospital, where he did an internship from January 2011 to March 2012 in the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Clinic. There, Manning had a chance to work with patients from 4 to 20 years old who were treated by a team featuring doctors, nutritionists, and behavioral experts for an integrated approach to their care.

"I loved it," said Manning of his time at Children's. Witnessing the patients' progress toward fitness meant a lot to him, he said, along with having the opportunity to network with distinguished professionals. Thus, what began with a three-and-a-half month stint as an intern turned into a year-long period as a volunteer.

Manning sounded ecstatic when he said that he was just hired as a health and science specialist at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Jamaica Plain. In that position, he will be associated with a research group that performs exercise interventional studies. That means doing things like studying individuals with heart failure to observe how effectively their bodies utilize oxygen during exercise, checking the level of strenuousness they can tolerate, and doing data analysis.

"It would mean the world to me to have my name on something that got published," Manning confided.

"If I can help one person, it can go a long way," he said, whether it's assisting someone with finding the best exercise resources available, pinpointing healthy activities that can be done during the day, or weaning a person away from unhealthy foods filled with "empty calories" and encouraging better eating habits.

As for Minuteman, Manning said, "The tools for success are there. It's all about what you make of it."

Interested in Joining Our Revolution? Minuteman is still accepting applications for the 2013-2014 school year. Please call Admissions at 781-861-6500 x 225 for more information.