"They're attempting to graduate people that are going to be able to handle that demand as it increases," Mike Stack, the owner of Ann Arbor's Applied Fitness Solutions and a U-M graduate, told the Ann Arbor News.
"The depth of knowledge you gain from having a degree is exponentially more than you will ever get from any weekend personal training workshop."
"You can't replace four years of academic study in exercise training and prescription."
The school spent two years refining the major, which was approved by its Board of Regents in the spring.
The concentration has two tracks of study: health and fitness leadership and physical education with teacher certification.
It is intended for students interested in individual and community health, which can include jobs in recreation, personal training, corporate wellness, coaching and health promotion.
Students in the major take classes like the biomechanics of sport, the psychological aspects of sports and exercise and managerial ethics in the sport and fitness industries.
The program requires an internship, and leads to certification as a personal trainer.
"We thought, let's capitalize on the interest our students are exhibiting," said Pat Von Volkinburg, who explained that past students have expressed interest in things like exercise prescription.
"They'll learn how to test clients and make pronouncements on what exactly they need."
Von Volkinburg noted that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health and fitness educators is expected to grow through 2018 by 18 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Schools like Pennsylvania State University and Michigan State University already have health and fitness majors.
The U-M program requires 18 classes specific to the major.
Stack graduated from the School of Kinesiology in 2004.
At the time there was no program for aspiring personal trainers.
"They did not give me any of the practical skills that I needed when I was there," he said, adding that the new program helps "accelerate people's careers by five, ten years because they don't have that learning curve anymore."
Tuition for freshmen and sophomores in the School of Kinesiology is nearly $13,700 a year.
Starting this winter, students applying to U-M will be able to select health and fitness as their desired major.