Anyone who has ever worked out in a gym knows that there is more to fitness than just lifting weights. In order to get the most out of a workout, you need to understand the principles of training and how they apply to your specific goals. This requires education and training in the field of fitness. That is why people need the help of professional fitness trainers.
Here are the types of training and education needed by professionals in the fitness field. If you want a future working in this industry, you can choose from these preparatory steps.
Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science
In a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, you will study the principles of training and how they apply to different types of athletes. You will also learn about the human body and how it responds to exercise. This knowledge will help you create safe and effective workout programs for your clients.
A Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science will qualify you for a career as a fitness trainer or nutritionist. You will have the knowledge and skills to help people achieve their fitness goals. The degree will also prepare you for a career in the health and wellness industry.
Personal Trainer Certification
To work as a personal trainer, you may need to become certified. There are a few different ways to do so. You can become certified through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the American Council on Exercise (ACE), two organizations with the highest certifications.
You can also become certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).
Each of these organizations offers training followed by exams to earn certifications. Their certification will prove that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to train others in the fitness industry.
The basic requirements to start training include a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalency and current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certifications. Higher certifications may require an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.
American College of Sports Medicine Certification
The ACSM offers the following certifications:
- Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM-CPT)
- Certified Group Exercise Instructor (ACSM-GEI)
- A Certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) must have a B.S. Exercise Science degree before certification.
- A Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-CEP) must have a B.S. Exercise Science degree or its equivalent plus 1,200 hours of hands-on clinical experience, or an M.S. in Clinical Exercise Physiology degree plus 600 hours of hands-on clinical experience prior to certification.
American Council on Exercise Certification
The ACE offers the following certifications:
- ACE Certified Personal Trainer
- ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor
- ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist
- ACE Certified Health Coach
An ACE Certified Health Coach must have the following qualifications before applying for certification:
- CPR and AED certifications
- NCCA-accredited certification in fitness, healthcare, nutrition, wellness, human resources, or any related field
- An associate’s degree in exercise science, fitness, healthcare, nutrition, wellness, or any related field from an accredited university or college
- A minimum of two years’ work experience in leading, coaching, designing, facilitating, or implementing exercise, physical activity, nutrition, wellness, or behavioral or lifestyle change
- Completion of a health coach education and training program approved by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC)
National Strength and Conditioning Association Certifications
The NSCA offers the following certifications:
- Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)
- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (NSCA-CSCS) train individual and group athletes.
- Certified Performance and Sport Scientists (NSCA-CPSS) focus on more advanced programs for individual and group athletes.
- Certified Special Population Specialists (NSCA-CSPS) focus on the fitness requirements of people with temporary or chronic health conditions.
- Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitators (NSCA-TSAC-F) design and execute programs for military, law enforcement, emergency, and rescue personnel.
National Academy of Sports Medicine Certification
The NASM offers the following certifications:
- Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT)
- Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC)
- A Certified Sports Nutrition Coach (NASM-CSNC) focuses on the nutritional needs of specific athletes.
- A Certified Wellness Coach (NASM-CWC) goes beyond fitness to positive behavioral and lifestyle changes covering nutrition, emotional and mental wellbeing, regeneration, and recovery.
- A Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM-CES) helps clients move better during workouts and in daily life.
- A Behavior Change Specialist (NASM-BCS) helps clients change their behavior to achieve their goals.
- A Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM-PES) focuses on training athletes for sports performance.
Athletics and Fitness Association of America Certification
The AFAA offers the following certifications:
- Personal Fitness Trainer (AFAA-PFT) Certification
- G.E.A.R. Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor (AFAA-CICI)
- Certified Group Fitness Instructor (AFAA-CGFI)
Succeed in the Fitness Industry
So you want to be a personal trainer? It’s not as easy as getting certified and putting up a shingle. To be successful in the fitness industry, you need to be well-educated and keep up with the latest trends. The types of training and education you need will vary depending on what type of professional you want to be. But one thing is certain: you need to be passionate about helping people reach their fitness goals.
Based on the training programs and certifications listed above, you can begin your journey right after high school once you get CPR and AED certifications. There are a lot of certifications you can study and qualify for from there. To really the highest levels of expertise, aim to attain a B.S. Exercise Science degree and M.S. Clinical Exercise Physiology degree. You will be unstoppable from there on.