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Understanding the AHFS

Understanding the AHFS | Alexandra Link | Exam Preparation Blog | 8/22/2011


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Advanced Health and Fitness SpecialistMost of us know or at least have an idea about what a Personal Trainer or Group Fitness Instructor does, but when it comes to the job description of an Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist there might be some questions. The ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist Certification (AHFS) is an NCCA-accredited advanced credential designed for those who want to work with clientele that do not fall within the “apparently healthy” category, as this certification effectively prepares individuals to understand the unique needs of clients facing a variety of health challenges, including cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic and musculoskeletal issues. As you may know, many of these issues are becoming increasingly apparent in the U.S. population due to the obesity epidemic spurred on by inactivity, poor dietary choices and other various related health factors. This population with these unique considerations requires a more advanced training approach than that of your “average” client.

Another certification…really?

You might be thinking to yourself, “I already work with these individuals, why do I need a certification?” Well it might benefit you to know that earning the ACE AHFS certification will demonstrate to employers and clients that you not only understand the psychological aspects of working with clients with health challenges and the biomechanical and physiological impact of many diseases, disorders and ailments, but that you also possess the ability to apply this knowledge to exercise programming related to major cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and disorders, metabolic diseases and disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, as well as to working with older adults, youth and pre- and post-natal clients.

What’s in it for me?

You might also find yourself asking, “What are the benefits of earning the AHFS certification?” That’s a great question and you should know that earning this certification also allows you to play a more significant role within the healthcare continuum. While medical doctors, physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists often are only able to see patients periodically and for shorter periods of time on average, you as an Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist often have the ability to dedicate more one-on-one time, allowing for more interaction and understanding at a personal level which is crucial in order to obtain important health and lifestyle related information, develop effective exercise programs, monitor progress and ultimately to facilitate behavior change. In other words, the role you would play would help to bridge that gap for those clients who are only able to see their doctors and/or therapists on a minimal basis, as the valuable information you gain from working with clients on a more regular basis can be shared with other members of the client’s healthcare team (e.g. RD, physician, etc). This collaborative approach allows for the development of the most appropriate overall treatment plan, enabling the client to reach his or her maximum potential.

These are just a few reasons why the ACE AHFS certification would be a great addition to your repertoire of certifications. Perhaps one of the most important reasons to keep in mind when deciding on whether or not to pursue this advanced credential is that you would be expanding your scope of practice as a certified personal trainer while also broadening the population of clients that you would be qualified to train, which in the end makes you a more marketable fitness professional. In addition to furthering your knowledge, skills and client base, successfully earning an additional ACE certification also satisfies the continuing education requirement (2.0 CEC’s) needed in order to renew your current ACE certification, while also providing continuing education units for many other fitness and allied healthcare certifications. 

What do I need to know?

Wondering what’s covered on the examination? The exam content outline essentially serves as a blueprint for the exam from which all exam questions are developed. There are also a variety of study tools and resources available to support you as you prepare for this examination. In addition, there are also a number of colleges and universities that offer semester-long study preparation courses.

If you do decide that the ACE AHFS Certification is right for you, be sure to also take a look at the eligibility requirements for this advanced credential, as you will need to provide documentation to ACE’s Exam Registration Department in order to be pre-approved for this examination.