This is a great question. To truly understand how the ACE Integrated Fitness Training (ACE IFT™) Model was created, let’s first review why it was created.
Exercise science has evolved for decades through research that has provided the fitness industry with new training methodologies and guidelines for exercise programming. These methods and guidelines have been adapted into models that address specific areas of training, such as training for strength, endurance, or power. However, none of these models were built to provide a comprehensive system for training based on the science of today with the adaptability to easily incorporate the discoveries of tomorrow. To do this, a new approach to training was needed, one that would provide more than guidelines or a basic template telling trainers “if you see ____, then do ____.” A new model was needed that could be applied in any setting with any client at any point along the health—fitness—performance training continuum. While creating a model of this nature may seem daunting, it was exactly what personal trainers, managers, directors, club owners, and educators were asking ACE for on a weekly basis.
When it was time to start working on the fourth edition of the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, the ACE exercise science team consisting of Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., Pete McCall, M.S., Fabio Comana, M.A., M.S., and Todd Galati, M.A. (myself) discussed the need to develop a comprehensive training system that would provide trainers with a blueprint for understanding the appropriate application of various assessments and exercise programming methods for posture, movement, balance, function, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, speed—agility—quickness, power, and most importantly fitness-related behavior change. It was clear right away that developing a model so deep in content and broad in scope would be well beyond the scope of any individual and would require an “all in” effort from each of us. It was at this meeting in late 2008 that the ACE exercise science team developed the idea for the ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model and designed its first framework.
Over the next month, we constructed the framework of the ACE IFT™ Model with its two primary training components: Cardiorespiratory Training and Functional Movement and Resistance Training, each with four training phases, and all built on a foundation of rapport, communication, and facilitating fitness-related behavior changes. The next steps were to build out each phase of the two training components with appropriate assessments and programming solutions, and to incorporate tools personal trainers could use to help them identify appropriate strategies for working with each client to enhance motivation, adherence, and rapport. To do this, the ACE exercise science team reached out to leading researchers and practitioners in specific areas of the model to enlist them as chapter authors and content editors for the ACE Personal Trainer Manual (4th edition). Each author was provided with the framework for the ACE IFT™ Model, to help them understand how their respective contributions would fit within it. The list of chapter authors included Carl Foster, Ph.D., Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Tracie Rogers, Ph.D., Barbara A. Brehm, ED.D., Kelly Spivey, N.D., Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., MPH, R.D., Sabrena Merrill, M.S.; and the content editors included Sabrena Merrill, M.S., Len Kravitz, Ph.D., Daniel Cipriani, P.T., Ph.D., Scott Cheatham, D.P.T., O.C.S., A.T.C., Justin Price, M.A., John R. Martinez, P.T., M.P.T., Jessica Matthews, M.S., Carolyn Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H., Kimberly Summers, M.S., David K. Stotlar, Ed.D., and David Ohton. Throughout this process, the ACE exercise science team was entrenched in the process as chapter authors and then as content editors for all chapters covering components of the ACE IFT™ Model, with Cedric Bryant serving as the principal technical editor for the entire project.
The end product of this collaborative team effort was the ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model — a model that emphasizes first and foremost that personal training is a customer service business, and that even best training methods are hollow without good rapport, communication, and the ability to help people to adopt physical activity as a fun, regular part of their lives. The ACE IFT™ Model goes well beyond methods built primarily on muscle weakness and tightness, by providing a framework for helping clients to first improve the stability—mobility relationship of their joints, then helping them to improve movement patterns in all planes, then loading their movements, and finally helping advanced clients to train for athletic performance. The ACE IFT™ Model also goes well beyond target heart rate training based on predicted maximums and ranges, by providing field tests for identifying a client’s heart rate at the first and second ventilator thresholds (VT1 and VT2), metabolic markers that are unique to each person, allowing for very personalized training plans.
The ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model was developed by a committed team of ACE exercise scientists. It provides personal trainers with a practical system for training any client, educators with a framework they can teach to help students pull the various aspects of training together, and facility owners, managers, and directors with a system they can implement to provide consistent training solutions for all members.
For more information on the ACE IFT™ Model, please read the four-article series that ran in the February/March, April/May, June/July, and August 2010 issues of ACE Certified News.