Welcome to our article detailing all the important details regarding the amazing career option of becoming a Corrective Exercise Specialist, or CES.
This article is going to give you the full scoop on a Corrective Exercise Specialist Career.
I’ll be touching on details, such as:
After reading this article, you will understand much more about this excellent fitness and health certification specialization.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
CES Job Description
Corrective Exercise Specialization will take your fitness career and the ability to help clients to new levels.
If you are reading this article regarding this specialization, you most likely already have one of the most popular certified personal trainer certifications.
Corrective exercise is an excellent field to get into, and one that is necessary for the general population and athletes alike. It is one of many exercise science careers out there.
Over 120 million Americans suffer from some form of musculoskeletal pain, and they could definitely use the help of a CES.
As a corrective exercise specialist, you will use movement pattern assessments to find tight and weaker muscles in a client.
Based on the results of the assessments you will develop a program of stretching and strengthening to improve the functional movement and reduce injury risk for your clients.
CES career certifications allow for trainers to assess clients in a more specific way to address issues in-depth, as opposed to the more generalized approach with personal training.
If I were to use an example of a similar career or job layout, I would say a corrective exercise specialist is very similar to being a certified personal trainer (CPT), just with a more specific set of skills.
For that reason, it’s often considered to be a specialization to add on to a CPT program.
Throughout this article, I will also mention some of the most popular Corrective Exercise Certifications.
Certified personal trainers that also have a CES certification will earn 26% more than other personal trainers, on average. This is a great deal more money over time, you just need to buy two certification packages.
Combining the CES with a nutrition certification can lead to even more value and further boost this income, so I cannot recommend combining the CPT , CES, and nutrition certifications enough.
Purchasing multiple certifications can be a pricey ordeal, so I definitely recommend searching for deals in the fitness industry.
If you end up choosing the ISSA as your certifying agency, I recommend looking into the ISSA Elite Trainer Certification Bundle.
As far as Corrective Exercise goes, ISSA offers an excellent ISSA CES specialization that falls under their Wellness category of certifications.
For someone choosing to get their CPT through ISSA, going for the ISSA CES is an excellent addition.
And while you are completing it, why not increase the overall value and get three certifications for half of the price.
The ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle is an insane deal in fitness, and it’s nearly impossible to find one similar from another organization.
The ISSA Elite Trainer program is one-of-a-kind in the fitness industry.
Occasionally, the ISSA will run an additional discount on the Elite Trainer program directly through their website.
If there is currently a deal on the Elite Trainer program, it’s a hard one to pass up.
Now, since we got this brief corrective exercise specialist job description, let’s take a look at what the typical rounds for a corrective exercise specialist look like, along with the knowledge requirements, or corrective exercise specialist responsibilities.
Areas of Study
Human Movement Sciences
Human movement sciences are the basis for all exercise, but especially when it comes to corrective exercise specialization.
This topic involves finding the relationship between functional anatomy, the human movement system, and optimal movement and how these apply to the strategy of helping people with exercise form and function.
You will need to understand how the entire body moves together as an integrated system of muscles, tendons, bones, fascia, and ligaments.
Human movement sciences involve a full understanding of biomechanics and knowledge of how gravity and ground reaction forces affect the body.
One certification that teaches biomechanics best, is the American Council on Exercise’s CES certification. ACE utilizes its own biomechanical model to simplify the study and usage of these concepts.
Next, let’s look at some of the more specific skills that a corrective exercise specialist will be well-versed in.
Assessing Movement Deficiencies
The assessment phase of dealing with a new client is an important first step of the process towards results.
More so when you help clients through corrective exercise techniques.
That’s because, with corrective exercise, your goal is to isolate and pinpoint problems that will form the basis of the work you will do with your client.
Unlike other fields of practice in fitness, you are not simply going off your client’s wishlist of health and fitness goals.
Of course, they would need to describe their desired outcomes in order for you to begin the assessment, but ultimately it is your discernment at play.
A client might report pain in a certain area such as a joint, inability to perform certain movements, or might simply want to activate the function in a certain movement pattern as a personal goal.
You will need a keen eye and a near-encyclopedic understanding of functional anatomy and the modalities of biomechanics in order to conduct a thorough assessment.
Just remember, you’re not operating as a healthcare practitioner, so it isn’t your job to diagnose, but simply to assess preexisting conditions.
The assessment phase in this regard is the most crucial point in corrective exercise practice.
If you don’t accurately assess, then you won’t know what to address.
Improving Normal Function
Improving functional mobility, endurance and performance are some of the goals a corrective exercise specialist is tasked with.
In this sense, your client or athlete might not have any immediate problems such as deviations or imbalances; they may simply be weak, stiff, or ineffective across a range of movements.
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That’s because you’re simply building on an already working but deficient biomechanical framework.
In this case, a corrective exercise specialist would dip into methodologies that can be considered strength and conditioning.
A lot of the ideas behind this specialization are similar to what you would learn when you start studying how to become a strength and conditioning coach.
Improving strength, power, flexibility, balance, and endurance are all key aspects of strength and conditioning which overlap with some of the practices of corrective exercise.
An example of this would be someone with a relatively weak core.
The core, as you know, is the central control unit of the musculoskeletal system.
A weak core has a cascading effect on the functional integrity of the rest of the machine that is the human body.
At the same time, a weak core is not a catastrophic imbalance or deficiency. It just shows a lack of regular stimulation.
You would prescribe a program that targets the core for proper activation and motor unit recruitment.
Restoring normal function might be the most common pillar of practice for a working corrective exercise specialist when it comes to exercise instruction.
This particular section of corrective exercise is covered well in the CPT programs for NSCA (national strength and conditioning association) and ACSM (American college of sports medicine).
But, these organizations do not have their own form of CES cert, which is unfortunate.
Addressing Imbalances, Deviations, and Compensations
Addressing areas that are problematic in a functional mobility sense is what corrective exercise is truly known for.
Fixing problems such as imbalances, deviations, and compensations is a process that requires lots of care and patience.
First, let’s define each concept.
The human musculoskeletal system and that of most animals are built on the framework of bilateral symmetry.
That means you can divide the body in half from top to bottom (sagittal plane) and have one half represented as a mirror image of the other.
With this in mind, it makes sense to understand that each of these halves should function in more or less the same capacity regarding size, shape, and performance.
Of course, most humans have one dominant half and one weaker half.
This naturally leads to a normal imbalance in the performance and appearance across both halves, albeit in a usually unnoticed way.
The problem arises when the differences are noticeable and cause dysfunction.
Muscular imbalances across the bilateral division are just one example. Another example occurs when considering the anterior (front) and posterior (back) sectors of the body.
Although you cant equate one sector to the other because there is no symmetry, you can pinpoint movement deficiencies if one sector’s normal standard of function is being met while the other sectors aren’t.
A common example of this, especially with the modern sedentary lifestyle that people lead, is having an overdeveloped anterior portion and an underdeveloped posterior portion.
The last type of imbalance I’ll touch on is that of muscle pairs.
Most muscles work in groups of at least two about a joint axis.
This allows them to coordinate movement. When one muscle contracts, its pair buddy relaxes to allow for movement.
Muscles are not rigid structures.
They are only capable of producing movement through contraction and cannot generate force through expansion.
So in order to reset a movement, they need to work together.
They alternate roles of agonist and antagonist. The agonist muscle in any instance is the one pulling or contracting. The antagonist is the one relaxing or extending.
Imbalances can occur when one of the muscles in a group is less effective as an agonist than the other or is too short or stiff to be a useful antagonist.
Deviations happen when the structural alignment of the musculoskeletal system is significantly compromised.
The most common deviations are ones related to the spine or postural deviations.
There are three common deviations referenced in corrective methodology.
- Lordosis, or inward curvature of the spine
- Kyphosis, or outward curvature of the spine
- Scoliosis, or lateral curvature of the spine.
Of these three spinal deviations, scoliosis is considered the most urgent concern.
That’s because it disrupts the bilateral symmetry of the body, thus contributing to both imbalance and deviation.
Lordosis and kyphosis still respect bilateral symmetry, so they are easier to address in many cases.
Deviations also occur in other areas such as gait (how a person stands, walks, and runs), shoulder girdle, and pelvic girdle.
Compensations are more or less the result of imbalance, and the terms are often used interchangeably.
But not all imbalances lead to compensation, and not all compensations result from imbalance.
For instance, compensation can result from bad training habits and not because there is a functional imbalance in the body.
It can also be due to an injury, which, even if fully recovered, may lead to a psychological post-trauma-induced compensation.
Unlearning Bad Habits
Since I just mentioned compensation due to the formation of bad habits, it brings me to another key component of corrective exercise and physical therapy.
That is helping individuals unlearn bad habits and adopt useful ones when it comes to physical function.
A lot of what corrective exercise entails is instructing and reinforcing the correct form and technique.
This actually gives corrective exercise a literal definition in a sense.
You are correcting exercise, which allows your client to adopt an approach they can adhere to with or without your guidance.
As a corrective exercise specialist and a fitness professional in general, your goal is to create a situation where your clients no longer require your services as they would have adopted appropriate, lifelong habits.
Next, let’s look into the role and scope of practice of someone with a certification in corrective exercise.
Role and Scope of Practice
The scope of practice is a summary of specific on-the-job tasks and essentially answers the question of “what does a corrective exercise specialist do?”
To summarize, a corrective exercise specialist works to improve function in their clients once they have assessed problem areas and they do this through stretching and conditioning of these problem areas.
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I’ve pretty much described the areas of focus a corrective exercise specialist hones in on, but let’s take a look at some of the specific methods.
Assessment, as I mentioned, is the crucial first step in an effective corrective exercise program. It is a crucial part of corrective exercise specialist duties.
According to ISSA, one of the most reputable fitness certification institutions, the assessment takes place under two possible protocols.
- Kinetic chain checkpoints
- Functional movement screen
The kinetic chain checkpoints are all the six major joint systems.
- Pelvic girdle
- Shoulder girdle
Having a firm grasp of what these points should look and function like and knowing when things are even slightly off is the main objective with the kinetic chain checkpoints.
The functional movement screen is an assessment style that will have your clients perform a range of movements so you can determine their capability and isolate the problem areas.
There are seven functional movement tests you will be tasked to use when assessing your clients.
- Deep squat
- Hurdle step
- In-line lunge
- Shoulder mobility
- Active straight leg raise
- Trunk stability push-up
- Rotary stability
I won’t go into the intricacies; that’s something you’ll need to learn in your own time.
Program Design and Implementation
As with any fitness programming, developing a plan of action focuses n what work will be done and how long it will take to do it.
When it comes to corrective exercise, you’ll want to take a progressive approach, which means gradually ramping up the challenge level of the workouts as you go through the training program.
Unlike general fitness with goals in mind such as weight loss, the progressions in corrective exercise follow through on gradually improved function.
For instance, in improving range of motion, you will simply add to the flexibility challenge as opposed to just ramping up training loads and/or volumes.
A good corrective exercise program should follow a periodized model with training volumes and styles that shift according to a progressive functional end goal.
Collaborate with Professionals
Part of your job as a corrective exercise specialist is to grow in wealth and knowledge so you can continue to build your reputation and career.
Immersing yourself in the academic world is one way, but collaborating and networking with your peers is one of the best ways to elevate your status.
Another reason networking is so vital in the corrective exercise field is that your scope of practice is limited, and your clients’ needs might extend beyond it.
That means building a referral network of trusted, qualified, and authorized professionals in various complementary fields such as:
- Strength and conditioning coach
- physiotherapist/ physical therapist
- Exercise physiologist
This way, you can ensure your prospective clients or current clients get the best possible solution for all their problems.
Also, an important part of training people is personal training insurance, so it is a good idea to make sure you have that secured as part of your own protection and the scope of practice.
Job Qualifications and Prerequisites
To become a corrective exercise pro, a substantial degree of learning is required.
This would typically mean getting a certification from one of the top-rated certifying agencies.
My recommendations are:
I rate ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) and NASM as the best for corrective exercise, and preferred over the other organizations, as their programs are simply top-tier.
These companies both offer NCCA accredited certification, making their value even more emphasized.
The ISSA CES and NASM CES would be the go-to certifications in this case.
Other than that, you could also opt to earn a degree in an exercise or sports science-related field.
Programs that typically present you with credentials that align with corrective exercise include:
- Sports medicine
- Exercise science
- Physical education
There are many more, and some with their own unique names and formats; just try to enroll in something with a corrective exercise or strength & conditioning focus if you do a degree program.
Just remember, getting a degree is a huge financial and time investment, so proceed with caution and full conviction of where you want your career to go.
For NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), here are the corrective exercise specialist requirements that are recommended:
- A CPT certification
- Certified or Licensed Massage Therapist
- NCCA, NFBE, or DETC Accredited Cert
- 4-year College Degree
- REPs Level 3 or higher
The NASM corrective exercise specialist recommends just one of these prerequisites be fulfilled prior to going for the certification, and especially prior to trying to land a job in the area.
Most jobs will also require these same items, specifically, the college degree sets people apart, along with the CPT certification.
These prerequisites are pretty universal for corrective exercise specialists, but some of the other organizations do not advertise these requirements for the job.
Make sure to highlight all of the relevant information on your resume, and check out some tips from fitness professionals on how to build the best resume.
How to Land a Job in Corrective Exercise
Once you are qualified, you’d need to get work as a corrective exercise specialist.
I’ll stop you right there and say niching down solely on corrective exercise as a career or job description is a very tall order.
I would suggest you don’t box yourself in as a corrective specialist.
You might find it odd that I’m saying this now when this entire article has been about nailing it on the job as a corrective exercise specialist.
But the thing is, the demand for corrective exercise as a specific practice is relatively low.
Most people who need correction hardly ever consider doing anything about it or even seeing it as a complication that needs addressing.
Like I said, your ability to accurately assess should have priority over what your client states as goals.
So because of the low demand for corrective exercise specialists, your best bet is to assume the title of a more sought-after fitness services provider, such as a personal trainer, and use your corrective exercise credentials as a part of your USP (unique selling point).
That way, you’re killing two birds with one stone, servicing the needs of those seeking corrective exercise, and playing to market familiarity as a fitness trainer.
Job postings on online classifieds such as indeed.com, LinkedIn, and glassdoor.com are good places to start.
Ensure that once you get the job interview, you know have practiced the process in detail.
Continuing Education Credits
All fitness certification programs require Continuing Education Credits, or CEUs, so that fitness professionals can keep their certification current.
The certifications all carry a required amount of hours needed to be pursued throughout the year, usually in the realm of 10 hours per year.
Some of the easiest continuing education credits come in the form of specializations. A specialization, like this corrective exercise cert, would be pursued to benefit the career of the fitness professional, while also ticking off the CEU credit hours.
You could also pursue classes and courses to attend to knock out these hours, but having a certification to add to your expertise and resume is much more beneficial.
This is where bundles like the ISSA Elite Trainer bundle and more come in handy.
They offer the CPT cert, for those not certified, along with two specializations, one of which could be this Corrective Exercise certification.
This means you save money, while also checking off your future requirement for recertification.
That makes your first two years a breeze not worrying about recertification.
Continuing your education and growng your knowledge is a great way to ensure you are a good personal trainer.
Corrective Exercise Specialist Salary
Understanding the earning potential is crucial in any career path you follow.
As much passion and purpose as you may find, you’ll still have bills to pay and at least one stomach to feed.
So, CES salary is important to know and if you were to look at the pros and cons of being a corrective exercise specialist, a pro would definitely be the current salary.
According to statistics from sources such as salary.com, glassdoor.com, and indeed.com, the salary range for corrective exercise specialists is between $40k to $50k.
These salary ranges are similar to standard personal trainer salaries.
The corrective exercise specialist statistics are looking great and only on the rise, similar to that of all other fitness specialties.
Of course, you’re not confined to these statistics.
Many factors play into how much you can earn. And being able to exploit them might just push your earning capacity beyond expectations.
These factors include:
- Credentials and qualifications
- Sales and Marketing strategy
- Years of experience
- Job position and nature of employment
Ultimately, as I suggested earlier, it’s a good idea to make corrective exercise part of a business model instead of it being the entirety of the business.
Another key point with salary is that when a certified personal trainer has a CES certification, they make an average of 26% more money than a CPT without the certification.
As I mentioned, stacking a nutrition certification on top of the CPT and corrective exercise is a further boost to your credentials and potential income.
That is where bundles that include multiple certifications come in handy, like with the ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle we mentioned early on in the article.
If you would like one of the best deals in the industry, check these promotions from ISSA.
The ISSA Elite is sometimes on sale, and if it currently is, it’s strongly worth considering.
All in all, the salary of fitness professionals is on a constant rise, and combining certifications and expertise allows for a greater amount of money to be made.
Corrective Exercise and Personal Training go hand in hand, and even if separated, corrective exercise is a great field of study to get into and will allow for a successful training future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Corrective exercise is both an exciting and rewarding practice in the field of health and fitness.
The current corrective exercise specialist job outlook is great, and even better when partnered with a CPT certification.
Being able to help people achieve a new level of functionality and self-sufficiency when it comes to movement is quite fulfilling.
Although corrective exercise doesn’t rank highest on the ladder of high-income jobs in fitness, it can be a valuable addition to your existing portfolio of services, thus helping you achieve higher income levels.
Corrective fitness overlaps many of its concepts and methodologies with strength and conditioning as the two both aim to optimize physical performance.
Corrective exercise, however, has a broader focus, whereas strength and conditioning are largely reserved for the domain of competitive sports and athletes.