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Long considered the Rolls Royce of fitness instructor certification, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is known for its comprehensive and detailed exam. This is not the certification for the novice instructor, or for anyone who is shy about memorizing complicated exercise science formulas. In general, most ACSM certified instructors work in hospital environment, or by medical referral.
There are three types of ACSM certifications. The ACSM Health/Fitness Instructor is designed for instructors that want to work with moderate-risk clients. In contrast, the ACSM Exercise Specialist must learn how to perform exercise testing in a clinical setting. The ACSM Personal Trainer Certification is designed for potential instructors that want to do one on one training with healthy individuals. While some of the exams offer a workshop, most are stand-alone exams.