The International Sports Sciences Association College of Exercise Science — soon to be Lionel University — believes that the health and fitness of our society can be significantly improved by our students’ success as health, sports and fitness professionals. Our efforts to stem the tide of poor health and physical decline are multiplied exponentially as our graduates and members disseminate the institution’s principles and methods to their clients, peers and associates. Our mission is to inspire each and every student to positively impact the quality of life of each individual with whom they come in contact.
As a distance education institution and industry leader, we are unconditionally committed to providing the highest quality distance education programs available, advancing our industry as a whole, and developing greater access to career opportunities for those who share our vision of Creating a Stronger, Healthier World™.
Prior to starting the International Sports Sciences Association with Co-Founder, Dr. Fred Hatfield, Sal Arria, DC, MSS, was a well-known chiropractor operating a world-renowned sports medicine and chiropractic clinic, with professional and Olympic athletes seeking his expertise. As a top professional and authority in the field of chiropractic and sports medicine, the state of California appointed Dr. Arria as the Independent Medical Evaluator (IME) and Disability Evaluator (DE) for the last ten of his twenty years in practice. From 1978 to 1997, Dr. Arria was the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Clinic, the largest clinic located between Los Angeles and San Francisco. During this period, Dr. Arria was appointed to the post-graduate faculty of the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. It was during this same period that the idea for the ISSA was born.
In 1987, one of Dr. Arria’s employees asked if the clinic would pay for her to become an X-Ray technician. Always in favor of professional growth for his staff, Dr. Arria agreed and the employee enrolled in a distance-learning program provided by the University of California, Berkeley. Intrigued that a major university like Berkeley offered distance education for X-Ray technicians, Dr. Arria began to investigate the distance education model of learning. He then used the model as the basis for an idea to allow personal training students the ability to acquire knowledge through distance education, utilizing independent study as well as practical seminar instruction. He then contacted leading fitness expert, Frederick Hatfield, PhD, MSS, with his idea and the two founded ISSA.
In 1988, the most powerful team of fitness experts ever assembled joined together under the leadership of Drs. Arria and Hatfield to stem the tide of physical decline. Culled from the elite ranks of research, coaching, sports medicine, and sports and fitness science, these individuals decided to draw a line in the sand, and turn the tide toward a more fit and healthy world. Together they formed the International Sports Sciences Association with the mission of transforming the fitness of the planet. The International Sports Sciences Association became the first organization to offer fitness education programs and courses via distance education.
Since that initial gathering in 1988, the International Sports Sciences Association catapulted to the forefront of the fitness community by originally providing fitness education and certifications.
In 2008, the International Sports Sciences Association was granted initial accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (formerly the Distance Education and Training Council) and subsequently underwent an organizational restructuring into a Public Division, Educational Division, and Professional Division. This restructuring made it possible to provide sound education, and at the same time, support the professional requirements inherent in the self-regulated fitness industry. The responsibilities of each division were as follows:
The Public Division is open to the general public and provides free information about health, fitness, and nutrition. Since this is a public service, membership is voluntary and there are no prerequisites or requirements.
The Educational Division serves student members who paid for and enrolled in courses from International Sports Sciences Association Educational Division – to earn either a certificate or a degree.
Educational institutions cannot mandate requirements to maintain a certificate or a degree; however, because of the self-regulated nature of the industry, the onus of professional credentials and continuing education falls on individual fitness organizations.
The Professional Division—allowed the International Sports Sciences Association to meet the needs of this industry requirement. The Professional Division evaluated, issued, and monitored professional credentials, including certification. Since the fitness industry is not regulated, a Professional Division was required to assure the public that International Sports Sciences Association Professionals meet and maintain a prescribed level of competence.
In 2011 the International Sports Sciences Association formed the College of Exercise Science (ISSA CES). ISSA CES now offers an accredited Associate of Science in Exercise Science degree program, a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science degree program, and a Master Trainer Certificate program. All of these programs are eligible for Federal Student Aid.
In February 2019, Dr. Arria sold the International Sports Sciences Association’s certification curriculum and certification exams, and the corresponding responsibility of being a certifying body in the fitness industry, to the Berks Group (ISSA, LLC). This sale allows the ISSA CES to continue growing as an academic institution by focusing on the development of degree and certificate programs that lead to personal, academic, and professional growth for the students served. The ISSA CES does not issue fitness certifications.
Note: issaonline.com is a separate entity from the accredited programs that are offered at issaonline.edu
In October 2021, the institution began its transition into Lionel University, and will officially begin issuing degrees from Lionel University in 2022. While our name is changing, the core of who we are remains the same.
Our institution is proud to be accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). DEAC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The ISSA College of Exercise Science is a member of IHRSA and is proud to have achieved accreditation from an IHRSA-recognized accrediting body.
The ISSA College of Exercise Science is a Better Business Bureau accredited business with a BBB Rating of A+.
ISSA College of Exercise Science is authorized by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to offer instruction in certificate and degree programs. BPPE| 2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400 | Sacramento, CA 95833
The College of Exercise Science has been a life-changing experience. I recommend it to all my co-workers, friends, and family members who have a passion for fitness and want to continue their educational journey.
I currently serve on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. I originally began my journey with CES pursuing the Master Trainer certificate. Upon completion, I decided to continue my education and earned my associates in exercise science through CES. Now I instruct at the Force Fitness Readiness Center where we train new Force Fitness Instructors for the Marine Corps. I couldn’t have done it without the College of Exercise Science.
My experience with ISSA has been life changing in the best way. Not only have I learned so many new skills, but my resume is quite long due to all of the Special Certifications I have received. I was recently contacted by another “women-only” trainer with her own business who was looking to expand. She almost immediately offered me a job as her first hire, almost sight-unseen! Now, I work at two gyms and can offer training to different types of populations. I have no doubt my educational qualifications had something to do with the ease of which I have been able to stay successful in this rapidly emerging profession.