ACSM CPT Chapter 1: Importance and Profession of Personal Training
ACSM CPT Chapter 1: Importance and Profession of Personal Training

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Chapter Objectives:

  • Know the needs for a Personal Trainer that people have.
  • Discuss a personal trainer’s scope of practice, including the background and experience needed for becoming a personal trainer.
  • Know the information regarding professional career environments and other educational opportunities for personal trainers.
  • Find the future trends that will affect the fitness industry and personal training.

The Fitness Industry: An Overview of the Landscape

The fitness industry is doing really well, even though the population as a whole is more physically inactive than ever.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the profession will grow faster than the average for all occupations from the years 2014 – 2024. 

Only 15% of the population has a membership to a fitness center.

Only 1 in 5 adults meet their recommendations of physical activity and less than 3 of every 10 high school students achieve at least 60 minutes of activity per day.

Only 16% of states require their elementary schools to have recess daily. And the numbers are worse for middle school students where only three states require the recommended 225 minutes per week for their students.

Definition of a Personal Trainer

The ACSM Certified Personal Trainers will have a minimum of a high school diploma and they work with healthy individuals and those that have health challenges and are able to exercise independently to manage their health risks, promote lasting changes in behaviors, enhance people’s quality of life, improve their health related physical fitness, and improve their performance. The Personal trainers will conduct health screening assessments prior to working out, use the sub-maximal cardiovascular exercise tests, and test for people’s muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body comp. The personal trainers will help to facilitate motivation and adherence for exercise and also make and give programs that are designed for enhancing muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, motor skill components of physical fitness, flexibility, cardio fitness, and body comp.

Personal Trainers’ Scope of Practice

The following tasks are potentially for personal trainers, but are also not limited to these:

Interview and screen the potential clients in order to find their readiness for exercise and physical activity. The clients other health professionals in their life may need to be involved.

Perform fitness tests or assessments on the clients so you are able to find their fitness level.

Help with Goal setting and motivation for your clients in order to promote adherence.

Make exercise programs and regimens for clients.

Demonstrate safe and effective technique for various exercises.

Spot clients when needed.

Supervise the clients well.

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Keep good records of client progress with respect to exercise prescription.

Answer the questions the clients have regarding fitness and health.

Educate clients about fitness and health so they can exercise on their own.

Becoming a Personal Trainer

The prerequisites vary greatly due to the large number of organizations.

ACSM has two tracks for certification: health/fitness and clinical)

Trainers should consider their career plans and their future professional goals when determining their required educational prep and certifications.

The certifying agency should be NCCA accredited. 

The Background of Personal Trainers

Educational Background

There are many opportunities available as personal training grows and evolves. Certificate programs take 1 year – 18 months. Associate degree programs take 18 months – 2 years. Bachelor’s degree programs take about 4 years. Master’s degree programs take 18 months – 2 years following a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral programs take 3 – 4 years after a master’s and it also involves a research project. Also, there are internships, practicums, or student work experiences.

Work-Related Background

It is also possible to receive a job as a trainer without a degree. This is usually with a certification and some prior experience in the industry.

Experiential Background

Some trainers may pursue a job in this field if they were once a really good athlete in school or at some time in life. This experience makes them essentially want to help others do the same.


ACSM Exercise is Medicine

This certification is for fitness professionals who are collaborating with other healthcare professions to assist clients for changed behavior and greater fitness achievements. There are three levels for this certification depending on level of current cert. and the educational background of the trainer.

ACSM/NCPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer

This is for people with a disability who are healthy or have been medically cleared to exercise and they are referred or are currently under care of a physician. 

This leads and demonstrates safe, effective, and adapted methods of exercise. 

ACSM?ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer

These trainers train people with cancer that have not started treatment, are getting treatment, or have recovered from treatment.

ACSM/NSPAPPH Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist

These trainers conduct needs assessments, pans, develops, and coordinates the physical activity interventions at state, local, and federal levels.

Establishing a Solid Knowledgeable Base

The Exercise Sciences

Trainers need to have a strong knowledge foundation in exercise sciences. Leadership and coaching training also helps to have a foundation.

ACSM partners with the fitness education network for 1 day and 3 day workshops to help prepare for the CPT certification.

Developing Your Tool Kit

Essential tools

Effective communication

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Appropriate motivation

Influential for behavior change

Interviewing and screening is effective

Goals and objectives are effective

Sound and proven business models used

Social networking sites are used effectively

Communication Skills

The most overlooked skill. This is more than just verbally communicating. It includes nonverbal things such as visual and kinesthetic aspects. Also, the emotional states are observed an understood.

Screening, Assessment, and Referrals

The initial view has the trainer obtaining the demographic information and their health history. The minimum forms are the health history form and the PAR-Q. These allow to screen.

The client is assessed next with the information found in those previous forms. With that information the trainer then decides whether they are going to refer the client to another person or not.

Professional Work Environments

For Profit

Commercial fitness centers are the most present type of facility for trainers to work in. These include independent gyms, chains, studios, licensed gyms, and franchises. You should investigate the policies and advancement opportunities before going there.

Not For Profit

A large part of the market is also nonprofit. 

Medical Fitness Centers

Trainers have had an ever growing relationship with the health care field. This is evident in the many types of certifications and specializations in working with people who are recovering from many of the various diseases and health conditions.


More than 50% of profits for businesses are spent on employees’ and dependents’ health care. A lot of this is achieved with worksite health promotion programs.

Ethics and Professional Conduct

Ethics are the standards of conduct that will guide us in our decision making and the actions we do based upon our core values.

Code of Ethics for ACSM Certified and Registered Professionals


This is intended to help all the credentialed professionals within the ACSM for establishing and maintaining high ethical conduct. The code essentially determines how appropriate their conduct is.

Principles and Standards

Responsibility to the Public

They should provide the things within their scope of practice and the skills of their certification. They should show integrity, competence, diligence, and compassion.

Evidence based science and medicine are provided for exercise.

The clients, colleagues, and other health care professionals are respected.

The professionals are truthful regarding their qualifications and the limit of their experience.

Responsibility to the Profession

High professional standards are kept.

Their practice always stays in their scope of practice.

Good standing with the government is always maintained.

Principles and Standards for Candidates of ACSM Certification Examinations

People who are applying for their credential or certification exam must meet the requirements and accurately complete the application. Irregular behavior is avoided before, during, and after the exam.

Public Disclosure of Affiliation

The ACSM is able to disclose the person’s affiliation with the ACSM credentialing. 

The credentialing status is disclosed by the ACSM.

The affiliations may be on the business cards.

Institutions may inform the public of affiliations with the group.


Discipline or the loss of their job may occur if the person goes against the principles put forth in the code.

National Campaigns to Promote Physical Activity

Exercise is Medicine

This certificate has three levels based upon the health status of the patient referrals and the education and certifications of the candidate. 

American Fitness Index

This is an example of a nationwide initiative to help people understand how the health of residents and community assets within a city will help support active and healthy lifestyles.

This uses the collection and dissemination of city health data, provision of resources, and community assistance to connect with health promotion partners.

ACSM’s Role and the Educational Continuum

Founded in 1954, ACSM was first for professional organizations to have certifications for health and fitness.

Identification of a Core Body of Knowledge

The other textbook is the Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. It is seen as the core body of knowledge for the assessments of fitness and the prescription of exercise.

Continuous Revision of Knowledge and Skills

The exam and the importance in the workplace is sorted by domain (there are 4) and those domains are weighted based on their importance.

ACSM CPT Chapter 1: Importance and Profession of Personal Training 1
ACSM CPT Chapter 1: Importance and Profession of Personal Training 2

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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2 thoughts on “ACSM CPT Chapter 1: Importance and Profession of Personal Training”

  1. PTPioneer User

    Hi I have a ACSM ‘S Resources for the Personal Trainer 4gh edition study book.

    Your study material is good but in a book the topics definition n briefs are lengthy, but yours is all short is it ok to study this much?

    Please reply me so that is very helpful for me to take a decision.

    Thank you

    1. Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

      I definitely think that this is a good start for your studying. I do recommend looking at other materials as well. The textbook is a good option. Another choice to consider is the study materials over at trainer Academy. Good luck with the study.

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