Top 8 Fitness Certifications That Can Make You A Successful Fitness Instructor!

Want to become a great fitness instructor? Explore the industry-best fitness certifications to give your career a boost.
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he fitness industry is on its boom and now is the right time to be in the fitness business. Health & fitness has become an integral part of everyone’s lifestyle. People are becoming more informed and making smart decisions when it comes to their health & fitness. This is leading to the heightened demand for personal trainers. specifically for fitness trainers with certified portfolios.

Any profession or career in the fitness industry would almost certainly require or strongly recommend that you obtain at least one fitness certification. The one you opt for should be determined by where you want to work and what you want to do. You would want to pick the one that most aligns with your professional objectives and prospective employment needs.

If you are already a fitness instructor, adding more certificates to your portfolio can hep you offer more services to your clients. This would help you to climb up your revenue ladder and keep your clients coming back to you. You can get ahead of your competitors, by stepping up your game as a fitness instructor by getting certified. We are here to help you with the most suited certification options so that you could maintain an upstanding reputation as a fitness instructor.

There are a plethora of options to choose from if you wish to become a fitness instructor or if you want to acquire a better knowledge of the fitness sector. We have curated a list of certifications for all the aspiring trainers and trainers who want to win more clients with their certified portfolios.

Become a fitness instructor of your choice

The below-mentioned five categories can be used to classify fitness certifications. You must consider the purpose and the alignment of your fitness certification with your future professional goals.

01. Personal Training

If you are looking to become a certified personal trainer then go for the NCCA accredited certification programs as it is the gold standard in the fitness and wellness industry. Some organizations which you could opt for are the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), or the Cooper Institute (CI). ISSA certificate has been accredited by DEETC which is another reputable certifying authorit. All of the major CPT certificates are now accredited, you can choose any of the above certifications if you are an aspiring gym instructor or personal trainer.

Instructor helping out a woman in weight lifting

02. Group fitness

If you have the enthusiasm and zeal to lead an aerobics class or any other fitness activity, then you must focus on becoming a group fitness instructor and the courses mentioned in the next few lines are for you. There are some decent alternatives in terms of certification for group fitness. ACE, ACSM, NASM, and NETA provide recognized group fitness certification.

NASM's Group Personal Trainer (GPT) certification isn't a typical group fitness certification. On the contrary, it blurs the boundary between personal and small-group training, thereby equipping you to offer individualized teaching to small groups of people around 4-5.

Group of people working out

03. Clinical 

People who are more interested in exercise from a clinical perspective must gravitate towards the ACSM certification program because it allows you to deal with people who have stable, medically-controlled health problems as well as healthy adults in general. If you want to pursue a clinical career in exercise physiology, you'll need to become an ASCM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CCEP) or ASCM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP). 

Physiologist examining a person's knee

04. Human Performance

NSCA's Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) program stands out when it comes to a certification that lets you train athletes at any level.

Although ISSA, NASM, and ACE offer Sports Conditioning certificates, the CSCS is the only NCCA-accredited strength and conditioning certification program for training athletes. It's a comprehensive core certification that demands a bachelor's degree and has been considered best in class in strength coaching for decades.

An instructor assisting a man in weight lifting

05. Specialty

If you want to work solely with the young or senior population or want to become an expert in women's fitness or maybe acquire expertise in weight loss or nutrition then a specialist program is for you. A wide variety of specialist certifications are available to supplement your core certificate.  You could choose the leading organizations of NASM or ACE as they offer you several certifications in a variety of specializations.

There are three subsections in this category which are:

  1. Prevention and Correction
  2. Specific Demographics
  3. Wellness Coaching/Nutrition
An instructor talking to an elder man

Top 8 Fitness Certifications for Fitness Trainers

Let's take a closer look at the certifications stated in the previous section. We would assist you in determining the most suitable fitness certification as per your professional and personal requirements.

ACE

This program is offered by the American Council on Exercise, which also provides a variety of other health certification programs. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a non-profit organization that has been helping the fitness sector for 30 years now. If you want to become an ACE certified personal trainer, then you’ll have to pass the ACE certification test.

At the time of enrollment, applicants must own a valid CPR/AED certification with a live skills check (not online only). To apply, you must be over the age of 18 years. There is a final test in-person to become an ACE certified personal trainer that covers the teachings from ACE eBooks. You could also become an ACE group fitness instructor with the ACE group fitness program to teach any form of fitness exercise in a group setting.

ISSA

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)  believes that providing its trainers with the necessary tools in and out of the gym is essential to sustain in a competitive market. The certification cost is $799, and you may study and take an open-book exam from the comfort of your own home.

The ISSA personal trainer certification is valid for two years, and you must obtain 20 continuing education credits to maintain it.  Most of them may be completed at home in your spare time, all thanks to online conferences and seminars. They provide a money-back guarantee because they are so sure that you will find a job following your fitness certification.

ACSM

If you’re looking to get a recognized certificate from an organization that has been in the fitness business for a long time, then ACSM is the certificate you should go for.

This course certifies you as an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, allowing you to lead exercise programs in healthy populations or for those who have medical clearance to exercise.

Face-to-face learning over 18 weekends would take place in the course. After that, you will have a practical exam, a multiple-choice theory exam, and a case study to submit at the end of the course. You will be awarded three certificates at the end.

NASM

A 30-year-old organization, NASM is best recognized for its Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) curriculum. Personal trainers from all around the world may now earn or maintain their NASM certifications owing to NASM's certification and re-certification programs.

In the US, nearly every gym is affiliated with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), which is why it is the first choice for many seeking to begin their career as a personal trainer. This certifying authority guarantees job placement within 90 days of receiving certification. This is one of the pros of opting for this specific fitness certification.

NSCA

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) is dedicated to conditioning the skills of fitness trainers and inculcating in them the advancing methods of the industry. NSCA provides three types of certifications to fitness trainers around the globe and each certification is specific to the sort of training the user wishes to go through in their profession.

There are three Certified Personal Trainer certificates offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). In these certification programs, a wide range of training-specific topics is addressed. NSCA offers a wide range of specialized certificates for you to choose from and begin your career in the fitness industry.

AFPA

The AFPA, American Fitness Professionals Association is a nationally and globally recognized organization providing diverse courses for fitness trainers. Not only people in the US can enroll but also, willing fitness trainers from abroad can apply to AFPA's educational courses due to its remote learning approach. Fitness, health, wellness, and nutrition professionals highly benefit from these courses and have more scope in their careers after certification from AFPA.

As technology has advanced, more and more programs have migrated online, and AFPA currently provides most of its education courses via remote education. They also offer a master certification which costs $1,899, as it integrates four courses into one.

To qualify for the Personal Trainer Certification at AFPA, applicants must be 18 years of age or older, with no further requirements. The Personal Trainer Course costs $449. This amount includes the cost of all study materials and the test fee. The students must pass with a percentage of 85% or more. On failing to do so, the students will have to re-appear for the test which costs around $75. 

IFPA

You can also become a Certified Personal Trainer(CPT)  through IFPA,  International Fitness Professionals Association as it is accredited by the NCAA, The cost of a two-day workshop in major U.S. cities is from $399 and $459 whereas the entire IFPA Fitness course to become IFPA certified lasts between two to six months.

The cost of the exam is included in the cost of the IFPA fitness certification. In the test, examinees have to answer 100 questions in 2.5 hours. It is required that you take the test within six months following the workshop. Retaking the exam will cost you $79. Another added benefit of IFPA certifications is that it provides you with specialized courses in specific genres of fitness. Re-certification of this program is also necessary after every two years at the cost of $339.

NESTA

The fitness certification of NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association) is relatively recent. They partnered with a tech firm, Polar, to develop a personal trainer instruction curriculum that included Polar technology. To become a certified Heart Rate Performance Specialist, NESTA utilizes this technology to teach its fitness trainers and provides them with a personal training certification online.

Let us give you a rundown of the key requirements for NESTA certification. There is a minimum age of 18 years required along with a high school diploma and a current CPR certification or Basic Life Support card. To earn the certification, you must complete the course in 3 to 4 weeks for a year. It costs $25 to sit for the brief certificate exam with a polar heart rate monitor at a separate cost. You must pass a non-proctored online test that has 100 multiple-choice questions to graduate.

It’s your turn to choose a fitness certification that’s right for you!

Reflect on your professional needs, employment prospects, financial estimate, and duration of the certificate program along with its market demand before drawing a conclusion. It’s best to choose a fitness certification accredited by the credentialing organization of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or select the ones which are offered by other recognized organizations.

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