The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was the first organization to certify health and fitness professionals and with more than 20,000 certified professionals worldwide, they are the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.
ACSM establishes the exercise guidelines that all the other certifications use for their own training and certification programs. ACSM certifications are NCAA-accredited, meaning they meet the highest qualifications and something employers often require when looking for certified candidates for jobs.
ACSM offers many certification programs, including:
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, which will certify you to write and implement exercise programs safely and effectively to help clients reach their fitness goals.
ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist, a more advanced and indepth certification program than the personal trainer certification to train you to work with individuals with medically controlled diseases.
ACSM Certified Group Exercise Instructor, which will certify you to develope and teach effective and fun group exercise classes and make modifications based on the group’s needs.
They also offer clinical certifications, including:
ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, who typically work with clients that are suffering from, or at risk of developing, cardiovascular, pulmonary or metabolic diseases.
ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, considered ACSM’s most prestigeious certification, trains you to assist clients that are being treated by a doctor for cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, orthopedic, neuromuscular or immunological disease.
The ACSM Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) is the most common certification, and is looked at by employers and clients as one of the best. The ACSM personal training certification will prepare you to work with apparently healthy individuals and those with mild health challenges that are still able to exercise without doctor supervision. You will learn to design workout programs for a whole host of different goals including to enhance quality of life, improve overall health, improve athletic performance, manage health risk, weight loss and to promote lasting health behavior change.
With the CPT, you will learn to conduct basic health screenings, assessments, and tests for cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. You will also learn about motivation and program adherence, and how exercise effects muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, and motor skills, including balance, coordination, power, agility, speed, and reaction time.
To qualify for the CPT test, you must be 18 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be currently American Heart Association or American Red Cross Adult CPR certified.
Study materials are available to you based on your needs. You can purchase the ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, the official preparation book for the ACSM Personal Trainer certification exam, for $67.95. You can also purchase the ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, which the prep book for all ACSM certifications, for $39.95, or you can buy the ACSM’s Personal Trainer Study Kit which includes the ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, ACSM’s Certification Review, and ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer. The whole kit costs $131.95.
You must pass the CPT test in order to become certified, which you can register for the online. For ACSM members, it costs $219, or for non-members, the price is $279. You can retest if you fail for $150.
The ACSM is a safe bet for someone looking to become a personal trainer, as it is one of the most widely accepted, making your chances of landing a job after certification that much easier.