Mollie Martin by Mollie Martin

Many individuals endure an array of chronic and acute medical conditions that demand a degree of expertise beyond that required to train the “apparently healthy” clients with whom most personal trainers work on a daily basis. The ACE Medical Exercise Specialist (MES) certification was developed to enable exercise professionals to collaborate with the healthcare community to support their clients’ health and fitness goals. The role of the MES centers on health promotion and disease prevention, using a variety of lifestyle interventions (e.g., exercise, nutrition and stress management) and behavior-modification techniques. Earning this certification will help you better understand the complexity of common diseases and disorders and provide competent leadership in the following areas: 

  • Major cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and disorders, such as coronary heart disease, blood lipid disorders, hypertension, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 

  • Metabolic diseases and disorders, including obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus 

  • Musculoskeletal disorders, such as arthritis, osteoporosis and osteopenia, as well as posture, movement, balance and gait 

  • Perinatal considerations, such as prenatal and postpartum exercise guidelines, and physiological changes and biomechanical concerns associated with pregnancy, including exercise techniques and contraindications  

What Type of Clients Might an MES Serve? 

An MES has the knowledge, training and experience to work with clients who currently have, or are at risk for developing, one or more health conditions. The populations served by an MES include, but are not limited to:  

  • Those who are at risk for chronic disease or dysfunction, based on lifestyle or family history 

  • Those who have borderline health conditions that may be reversed and/or managed with a progressive health and fitness program 

  • Those diagnosed with cardiovascular, metabolic or orthopedic conditions and who are in need of professional health and fitness guidance 

  • Post-rehabilitation patients following discharge from an outpatient rehabilitation program 

  • Those with certain psychological disorders that may benefit from a program of regular exercise 

This certification not only facilitates a deeper comprehension of possible clientele with medical exercise demands and unique goals, but also a stronger connection to other healthcare professionals, which will create a more robust support network and better care and outcomes for the client/patient. 

The CMES should know how to design and implement a comprehensive health and fitness program that includes the following components: cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. Other components, such as posture, balance, stress management and nutrition, are just as important, but likely will be included as a supplement to these essential program components. As an advanced health and exercise professional, the MES will also know how to make appropriate programming adjustments for specific health conditions, ranging from muscle impingement to obesity.  

How Do You Earn Your MES Certification?  

First, visit the ACE Certified Medical Exercise Specialist page to learn more about what you can do once you earn the certification, possible types of employment, average annual income and future job prospects. You can also explore answers to frequently asked questions, which include information about prerequisites, how long you may have to study before you sit for the exam and what happens next after you earn the certification. From there, you can choose your study program, start your online learning and register for your exam.  

There is no question that this is a challenging course of study, but the body of knowledge you will gain will position you to work in new settings and broaden your pool of potential clientele. In addition, the work of an MES involves helping people manage chronic conditions and live healthier, more active and more fulfilling lives—and what could be more rewarding than that?