How to become an ACE-certified personal trainer

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What is ACE (American Council of Exercise)

More and more people today are getting conscious about the importance of fitness and exercise. However, even though the health benefits of exercise are well known, there are people who are still not motivated. There are also others who do not know how to start an exercise program. The number of people interested in a formal exercise program is increasing, which has resulted in increasing demand for personal exercise trainers. However, consumers have specific requirements and prefer fitness trainers with an ACE certification.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a non-profit organization formed nearly 35 years ago. It made its debut as the IDEA foundation but later changed the name to ACE. There was no national exercise organization at that time, and people were generally offered ad hoc fitness education. ACE quickly realized the gap in fitness education and certification. Its mission was to educate and certify fitness professionals and restore credibility to this specialty. ACE’s vision is to enrich the quality of life of the general public through safe and effective exercise programs and strategies. 

Today, ACE is the leading authority on health, fitness and exercise. It regularly offers updated guidelines for the public highlighting current scams and fads in the fitness industry. To achieve its goals and protect the public, ACE offers a national certification through education for fitness professionals. As of 2021, ACE certification has been awarded to over 75,000 fitness professionals. It is accredited by the NCCA and is globally recognized by most fitness facilities and gyms. 

Benefits of obtaining ACE certification 

Some of the key benefits of an ACE certification for someone who seriously wants to pursue a career as a personal fitness trainer include:

  • Increases your chance of getting a job in the fitness industry and/or lead to more job opportunities
  • Assists you to get more clients.
  • Increases your knowledge and expertise in different areas, including nutrition, weight loss, musclebuilding, aerobics, endurance training etc.
  • Enhances your career and opens opportunities in sports teams and gyms.
  • Helps you connect with others in the fitness industry and potentially lead to better job opportunities

Steps to get your ACE Certification

Before you can become an ACE certified personal trainer, you need to meet the minimum requirements, which include:

  • At least 18 years old 
  • Have at least a high school certificate or equivalent 
  • Have a cardiopulmonary resuscitation or AED certification
  • Have a valid government-issued photo identification

To become an ACE certified personal trainer, you first need to register on their website. ACE offers several fitness certifications. You can simply select the program that suits your requirements.

The ACE certification for a personal trainer program is roughly a 3-6 month course. Once you register, you will receive the study materials that will include text, graphics, clinical studies, videos, and online activities. To enhance your understanding of the subject, practice tests will also be included in the syllabus. The program is essentially self-taught and may take anywhere from 80-120 hours to complete. ACE university also provides an intuitive learning platform. Once you’ve understood the learning material, you will need to take the ACE certification exam.

The basic study package for the certification program costs $599. The plus package costs $699, and the Advantage package costs $1049.  Each of these packages differs in the amount and type of learning for the exam. 

The ACE exam

The ACE exam is quite difficult, and the pass rate is low if you do not study. However, candidates who are well-prepared have an excellent chance of passing. Studying properly and using sample exam questions could prove to be useful. Depending on the plan you purchase, ACE will provide you with a practice exam kit with 750 questions similar to what is asked in the exam. You can purchase more sample practice questions if needed. The 3-hour exam covers 150 questions. The fee to sit the ACE certification exam for personal trainers is $499. If you fail and need to take the exam again, there is an additional fee of $299.

Recertification and continuing education

To maintain the validity of the fitness certificate, recertification is required, which includes the following steps:

  • Your certification must be current at the time of recertification.
  • You must be in good standing with the ACE.
  • All individuals must complete at least 20 hours of ACE-approved continuing education credits.
  • You must complete the recertification process every 24 months.
  • You have to renew the CPR certificate and automated external defibrillator certificates.

The application can be submitted online. For a first certificate, the one-time renewal fee is $129. Additional certificates can be obtained at a slightly extra cost. The fee for late renewal starts at $169.

What does the ACE certification course cover?

The new ACE Personal Trainer Study Program provides the most up-to-date fitness education. Apart from an in-depth study of the physiology of exercise, you will also be taught about behavior changes and how to improve motivation in your clients. Specifically, the ACE certification program will cover:

  • Basic physiology of exercise and changes with age
  • Behavior changes to motivate people to exercise
  • Business aspects of a personal fitness program
  • Cardiovascular training 
  • How to improve exercise performance
  • Health disorders to consider in fitness/exercise training
  • Changes in lifestyle to improve health
  • Role of nutrition to boost health
  • Strength training
  • Weight management, including weight loss
  • Health in women and youth
  • Injuries during exercise
  • Ways of managing pain
  • How to reduce stress

The ACE offers 24/7 email and phone support to its customers. You are free to contact the study coaches at any time. The most important thing is to be prepared. The more prepared you are, the more likely you will clear the exam and get your certification. 

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