United States Sports Academy master’s degree student Christopher Bonilla spent most of 2020 deployed to Poland as part of the Nevada National Guard. During that time, he was able to complete much of his work toward his Master of Sports Science degree in sports exercise science because of the Academy’s flexible scheduling and 100 percent online format.

Now a resident of Arlington, Va., Bonilla is the Academy’s latest Student of the Month. He recently completed his master’s thesis – studying and implementing exercise warm up strategies for a new U.S. Army fitness test – and is now seeking publishing opportunities.

“The self-paced format of the Academy’s master’s degree program was beneficial to me while I was deployed overseas,” Bonilla said. “Some weeks were very busy, but others I had long stretches of down time – especially at the beginning of the Covid pandemic – and had lots of time to complete my courses. The flexibility was great because my schedule was often unpredictable.”

Aside from his duties for the National Guard, Bonilla also works as an online personal trainer and is also interested in the academic side of exercise science.

“The thesis process – and the applied research class I took – helped me pair the physical side of personal training with the articulation of those ideas,” he said. “The research side is something I’m interested in pursuing further while I try to grow my business and expand my education with a doctoral degree in the field.”

A former competitive weightlifter, Bonilla has always been interested in personal fitness in his daily life.

“I’ve gone from competitive weightlifting, to teaching CrossFit ‘boot camp’ style classes, to competing in Ironman and Tough Mudder competitions,” Bonilla said. “Being fit is such a big part of the military life, it is something that I just have always been compelled to do. It is also important to be able to pass on my knowledge to others so they can better their own personal fitness.”