The American Council on Exercise Launches New Advanced Certification: Clinical Exercise Specialist

Posted: Dec 10, 1998 in

SAN DIEGO - It’s no secret that exercise is an important component in maintaining health and wellbeing.

So it makes good sense that healthcare and fitness professionals would work together to meet the complex needs of patients. Unfortunately, this is not typically the case.

In an effort to bridge the gap between the medical and fitness fields, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) brought together the nation’s top health/fitness specialists to develop a new advanced certification that certifies skilled fitness professionals to step in where traditional healthcare leaves off.

"The medical industry is undergoing revolutionary changes in an effort to cut costs. This means the needs of consumers requiring post-rehabilitative support in returning to physical activity, or help staying active with chronic conditions, are less likely to be met," says ACE’s Chief Exercise Physiologist Richard Cotton. "As a result, exercise and medical professionals alike have acknowledged the need for skilled fitness professionals who are trained to develop post-treatment programs for patients with disabilities or illnesses."

According to Cotton, the ACE Clinical Exercise Specialist credential is designed for fitness professionals who can work with individuals after they’ve received medical treatment and been cleared by their physicians to return to exercise and physical activity. These specialized skills include designing, implementing and managing the exercise programs of individuals following treatment for chronic conditions and diseases such as asthma, AIDS, diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease. ACE-certified Clinical Exercise Specialists must maintain close contact with doctors and use assessment methods and exercise programming guidelines specific to the disease or special needs of their clients’ as specified by the appropriate healthcare professional. The credential does not qualify the fitness professional to provide services that are in the scope of practice for licensed medical personnel.

Fitness professionals eligible to take the exam are required to have the following:

  • Current CPR certification

  • At least 300 hours of experience designing and implementing exercise programs

  • A bachelor’s degree in an exercise science-related field or current certification as an ACE Personal Trainer, or select certifications from other credible certifying organizations.

The first Clinical Exercise Specialist certification exam will be administered March 20, 1999. The exam marks the debut of an innovative new "video practical&quo; testing method that comprises 25 percent of the test. ACE has also compiled a corresponding manual "Clinical Exercise Specialist Manual: ACE’s Source for Training Special Populations." The book features 27 chapters written by specialists on a diversity of diseases and chronic conditions. More than 500 pages detail the Clinical Exercise Specialist’s job and scope of practice, outlining communications techniques for relating to clients and physicians. It also offers in-depth exercise information for clients with cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic disorders, orthopedic problems and other special conditions such as visual impairments and psychological disorders. The manual will be available in January for $54.95.

ACE currently offers certification programs for group fitness professionals, personal trainers and lifestyle and weight management consultants, as well as providing a variety of health and fitness services to the public. Since 1985, ACE has certified more than 76,000 fitness professionals in 66 countries. For further information on the Clinical Exercise Specialist exam and educational materials, please call (800) 825-3636.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s "workout watchdog," ACE conducts university-based research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at

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