With more than 55,000 members in 55 countries, the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) is one of the largest fitness associations in the world. Founded by John Spencer Ellis in 1992, NESTA not only certifies personal trainers and fitness instructors, it is now branching out with a new Sport Yoga certification for fitness center based yoga teachers. Recognizing the rise in popularity and interest for yoga in health and fitness centers, Ellis saw a need to add yoga to NESTA’s menu of fitness certification programs.
The Sport Yoga certification program costs $297 and is done exclusively online. Training materials include online videos, a digital manual and several audio lessons. The final exam consists of a combination of 100 multiple choice, matching and short answer questions. The entire program takes between 30 and 40 hours to complete. Prior fitness knowledge is not a requirement to enroll in the course. Basic understanding of the English language, moderate flexibility and a relative level of fitness are the only prerequisites.
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Becoming a yoga instructor is one of the most burgeoning careers in the health and wellness industries. Unlike becoming a personal trainer, which is very regulated, becoming a yoga instructor doesn’t require the tests, certification and training that is mandated by the accredited personal training profession. There is both good and not-so-good in that.
First, because teaching yoga is a relatively new, albeit popular, profession, in essence, anyone who wants to become a yoga instructor can call herself a yoga teacher. This can easily lend way to unqualified teachers who take a few weekend yoga workshops and call themselves a teacher.
On the other hand, because of the lack of regulation, experienced yoga instructors who have been teaching yoga for years, maybe even decades, don’t need to go back and take hours of certification classes with a bunch of novices and learn information they already know.
It is this lack of regulation that has led to the Yoga Alliance, a national education and support organization for yoga in the United States that provides yoga certification for teachers. In September 1999, Yoga Alliance established a national Yoga Teachers’ Registry to recognize and promote teachers with training that meets their minimum standards. Teachers who meet these standards are eligible to register as Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT®s).
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