Although many personal trainers are well educated and provide clients with safe, effective training, the same cannot be said for all trainers. You may even work with some clients who are “recovering” from sessions with an incompetent or unsafe trainer.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) hopes to change this situation by establishing official standards for the fitness field. How? ACSM was approved as an associate member of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and granted the authority to officially establish and define two new allied health occupations: health and fitness specialist, and clinical exercise specialist. (CAAHEP is a system that currently accredits educational programs in 18 different allied health disciplines.)
Health and fitness specialists will be leaders of health and fitness programs in university, corporate, commercial and community settings. Minimum requirements for this profession will include an associate's degree and the appropriate qualifications to assess clients and to design and implement individual and group fitness programs for both apparently healthy individuals and those with controlled disease. Health and fitness specialists will be skilled in evaluating health behaviors and risk factors, conducting fitness assessments, writing appropriate exercise prescriptions and motivating individuals to modify negative health habits.
Clinical exercise specialists will work in a variety of clinical exercise settings—such as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs and medically based fitness centers—with individuals and groups involved in preventive and rehab exercise activities. Clinical exercise specialists will be competent in graded exercise testing; exercise prescription; exercise leadership; emergency procedures; and health education for individuals with cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic diseases, as well as other health challenges.
For more information see www.acsm.org.