when you say ‘fitness instructor’, do you mean personal trainer or group exercise instructor? Those are two different certifications, and one does not contain the other.
The length for those course varies widely. I am sad to say that there are still “certifying organizations” which will give you a piece of paper with either one of those titles just after a weekend’s time investment. I am not saying that you will not be learning anything during that weekend but I do have an issue with that because the entire industry gets a bad reputation because of it.
If you look at the ‘Career Guide’ on this website, you will find a myriad of organizations that certify. My recommendation is to go with an organization like ACE, ACSM or NASM (other people will recommend different ones) which have stood the test of time in the industry and are in high regard.
The length of those courses depends in part on you. The personal trainer certification from NASM, for example, gives you a year during which you must take the test. You will have an option to go to a seminar and will receive an extensive textbook.
I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck.
Hi Renee. Congratulations on finding ‘your profession!’ It’s your ENTHUSIASM and knowledge, NOT your age that will determine your success in your newly chosen field! So, putting your age aside 🙂 and concentrating on your desire to become a certified fitness professional I think that many of the factors already identified by Karin are things that you will need to consider. I would add that for a person new to the field, ‘industry marketability’ is important in getting that all-important first job. There are many, many certifications out there. Not every one of them have the same entry and testing requirements, so what you will need to do is your due diligence in researching the organizations out there to determine their requirements and comparing them to your current situation. For example, it does little good for you to look into Certifying Agency X if they require a 4-year degree in Exercise Science and you do not currently hold one. I think that you get what I’m trying to say here. So, just like any other education, you have a strata of educational institutions and you will need to compare that strata to your particular situation. While it’s great to get the BEST or most RESPECTED certification, it may not be doable for you in your current situation. If it is, great go for it. But if it is not, I would say do further checking because there are some organizations out there that, while perhaps not perceived to be the best, they may allow you to gain entry into the industry and give you a start. You can then learn, study and improve both your skill-set and knowledge while perhaps honing your craft. You may then decide to continue your “education” by pursuing additional more widely accepted or recognized certifications.
I say that if you’ve passionate about wanting to enter this field, there is a certification out there that can help you get there!
I hope that this helps.
That’s great! When you know if you want to do personal training or group fitness, research associations that are accredited by NCCA such as ACE, NASM, and AFAA. I have both but I started with personal trainer because that’s what I thought I wanted to do. It gave me a great foundation to be able to do other things!
Part of your decision might be made by where you choose to work and what they prefer. On the other hand, you have to look at your experience and knowledge to see how much you need to learn and if you meet the prerequisites.
Good luck and let us know what you decide!
Have you taken many fitness classes? What types do you enjoy? Find out from instructors in that field what their licensing and certification is. If you want to teach group classes, most places will hire you with a basic certification like AFAA group exercise and then a specialty certification in whatever specialty you prefer (i.e. if you want to teach a branded format like Zumba, you need to take a course and pay the licensing fee to use their name.
Some specialty formats, including Zumba, will allow you to begin teaching without having a base certification. Personally, I would NOT recommend that. There are safety, programming, and anatomy/physiology topics that are not covered in specialty licenses.
[Don’t get me wrong, I love Zumba and I teach several of its formats, but I also have quite a few certifications under my belt, not just a Zumba license]
Best of luck to you!