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certifications



Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Certification Profile

The AFAA is the world’s largest fitness and TeleFitness educator. Founded in 1983, the AFAA has issued over 300,000 certifications to fitness professionals. The AFAA prides itseld on delivering “comprehensive cognitive and practical education for fitness professionals, grounded in industry research, using both traditional and innovative modalities.”

The AFAA offers many fitness certifications, including Personal Training, Group Exercise, Kickboxing and Step. 

If you are looking to the AFAA to get your certification, you can find a variety of study materials and online courses that allow you to learn the necessary skills to be successful on your own time. Depending on how much help you think you need to pass the certification test, you can choose from textbooks, study manuals, practice tests, flash cards, DVDs and online courses to give you as much information and experience as you feel you need.


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American College of Sports Medicine Certification Profile

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.


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American Council on Exercise Personal Training Certification Profile

The ACE personal training certification is the largest, most widely recognized and widely accepted personal training certification there is out there. The draw is that you can complete the course at your own pace, on your own time, completely independently. While many find this the perfect choice to become a personal trainer, some criticize the ACE for not requiring hands on experience. While they do strongly recommend that you do 100 hours of practical experience, it isn’t a requirement. Find out more about the ACE certification process and decide for yourself if it works for you.

You can purchase study materials online that range from a simple textbook and practice test to DVDs, flashcards and practice tests. When you feel you are ready for the test, you can sign up online at any time and pick a testing area close to you.

The prices for study materials vary whether you go with the Premier, Deluxe, or Standard package, but expect to pay around $300-$400 for the exam materials. The ACE certification group also runs an Exam Review course every three months or so around the US. This counts as 1.6 continuing education credits (CECs), runs you around $220 and gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. This is not a requirement to get your certification.

Also every three months, the ACE runs a 2 day, 15-hour Practical Training Program for additional help before the test to give you insight into critical areas such as Assessment, Program Design, and Strength Training. This runs about $300 and can be counted as 1.5 CEC’s but again, is not a requirement.


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NESTA Personal Training Certification Profile

You’ve deiced to get your personal training certification- congratulations. But with hundreds of certification programs out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Today we take a look at one of the most respected programs, the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA), and what you can expect from their NESTA Personal Fitness Trainer certification.

The NESTA Personal Fitness Trainer certification is NCCA Accredited, a requirement amongst most places of employment. While the NESTA PFT is the most widely known of their programs, they also offer many coaching and specialization programs that are very unique to NESTA including the Mixed Martial Arts Conditioning Coach and the Triathlon Coach programs. They also have several programs specifically designed for the in-depth sciences, such as the Biomechanics Specialist program or the Heart Rate Performance Specialist program which was co-developed with Polar Heart Rate Monitors.

NESTA believes that in order for their graduates to be successful in the fitness field, they need a strong grasp of foundational exercise science and, more importantly, the application of that science.

“In my experience, many programs stress the science and are weak on application (or vice versa). Furthermore, the science is typically taught in a dry, boring manner. We strive to create the most engaging educational experience out there,” says Scott Gaines, NESTA’s Senior Vice President. While to program is completely online, they prefer to teach interactively, as opposed to learning material from a “boring textbook,” and use teaching methods that enhance experience, like proprietary 3D animations and visuals within the coursework.

“Most people enter this field because they have a passion for health and fitness and they want to share that passion for others. We want our education to fuel the flame of their passion for health and fitness, not snuff it out like many educators do.”


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Spot a Bad Personal Trainer Before You Spend the Money and Risk Your Body

Because of the New Year, novice exercisers everywhere will be dusting off their tennies to begin an exercise program. This is the first step, and one to be applauded, but most don’t know where to go after that. There is no shame in that- you can’t know something you have never been taught. Hiring a professional, like a personal trainer, to create a routine for you and show how to effectively exercise and eat right is a great plan of attack. However, hiring the wrong trainer, despite your best intentions, can leave you broke, discouraged and possibly injured.

Most people don’t know this, but there is no regulation on the personal training industry. Just because someone calls themselves a trainer doesn’t mean they have any direct education or training in the field. Often, I have found that the title personal trainer in many box, chain gyms is just a small promotion above membership sales; a title that has more to do with an employee’s ability to get you to open your wallet than get you into shape. There are a lot of “bad” trainers flooding the market these days with the fitness industry exploding at the same rate as the seams of America’s pants. Some have zero training, some have zero experience  and some may be a bad fit for you personally, but perfectly qualified.

Unfortunately, fitness expert Liz Neporent, co-author of the new Fitness for Dummies, 4th edition, sees this all the time. She recently had an all too typical “bad” trainer experience at her gym. “There was a trainer at a residential gym I witnessed recently who the clients loved but I could see was probably bordering on dangerous. She had clients doing high impact joint crunching workouts day after day. No certs, no insurance. [She] was offering them diet advice she got out of a Suzanne Somers book! But the clients loved her because she looked the part so they lobbied management to keep her. Sure enough, one by one they started coming up with injuries. She really was a disaster but was finally forced to at least get insurance coverage and a low level certification.”


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