Becoming an ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer

Embark on a transformative journey with our guide, “Becoming an ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer.” Uncover the essential steps, insights, and training required to achieve certification from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Explore the inclusive approach to fitness training, emphasizing adaptability for diverse abilities. Learn how this certification equips you to create accessible and supportive fitness programs for individuals with varying needs. Elevate your career and contribute to promoting inclusivity in the fitness industry. Discover the knowledge and skills necessary to make a positive impact as an ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer, opening doors to a rewarding and fulfilling professional path.

Are you interested in working with the disabled in your fitness center or as a private physical fitness trainer? What you may or may not be aware of, is that there is a major need for those willing to become an ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer. American College of Sports Medicine working in collaboration with the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability created this certification specifically for those with a desire to help those with autism or who are otherwise disabled.

Becoming Certified Is All About Helping Others

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As the owner of a gym or physical fitness trainer, it’s important to have plenty of tools in your toolbox. The more you can cater to specific segments of those interested in fitness, the more you can benefit. At the same time, being able to offer services to those with autism and other disabilities can be invaluable.

The physical fitness market is heavily saturated, and it can prove hard to stand out from the crowd. If you don’t find ways for people to notice you, you are likely to disappear into the background. If you are a fitness center owner, you should plan to be as inclusive as possible. By advertising your business as an autism fitness center, you will be able to attract many more potential clients.

In Steps, the Government

It’s not easy to become an autism spectrum disorder fitness center. You must be willing to conform to the various government regulations covering accessibility for those with disabilities.

Under the provisions of “Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act”, your business must be accessible to the disabled. Moreover, you are responsible for any and all costs involved in doing so. Failure to do so could leave you open to fines and possibly of a private lawsuit. To avoid this, you should be proactive and become an ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer.

You may even want to have other members of your staff become certified. No matter who becomes certified, you will be able to advertise as an autism fitness center. You will also be able to work with those who have other disabilities. It’s a great way to give back to the community and provide autism fitness training to many who live nearby.

As a certified fitness trainer, you likely entered the industry with the goal of both helping others and making a living. With that in mind, it stands to reason that the more you can assist individuals with disabilities in your community, the more rewarding your work will be.

Special Needs Populations

When discussing special needs populations, it is important to recognize the diversity within this group. While individuals with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other physical and mental disorders are a significant part of the special needs community, there are many other individuals who also fall under this category. This can include seniors facing challenges related to aging, individuals struggling with obesity or other health conditions, cancer treatment survivors dealing with long-term effects, and many more.

Moreover, special needs populations encompass a wide range of individuals with unique needs and challenges. Therefore, it is crucial to provide support and resources tailored to each individual’s specific circumstances. By doing so, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive society for all individuals, ultimately leading to a better quality of life for everyone.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD)

When it comes to initiating and coordinating health care programs for those with disabilities, the NCHPAD regulates it. They have been working on promoting the concept of inclusiveness in all areas of health and fitness. To do this, they create local coalitions to build social media networks, information services, and health communications networks.  Their role is to promote inclusive policies throughout the fitness community.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability is partnering with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). They are working together to create the ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer program or CIFT.  ACSM is one of the largest providers of exercise and sport science education in the world. They offer a variety of courses along with the CIFT program. The ACSM also offers certification programs for fitness instructors and trainers, as well as clinical, therapeutic, and other specialties.

The two organizations continue to work together to further develop a highly focused, in-depth, inclusive fitness training certification program. By earning this certification, you will be able to work with those who have no limits beyond their specific disability. The training does, however, cover many issues concerning physiology and a variety of illnesses.

You will learn the etiquette of working with those who have disabilities. The concept is to teach you the sensitivity and social skills needed to give your clients encouragement and positive reinforcement. While this might not seem like a big deal, those with disabilities often must deal with stereotyping. They also must cope with frustrations that only make their physical challenges even more difficult. For you to successfully connect as a trainer, you must have at least some insight into their struggles.

This Certification for Inclusive Fitness Training Is Not for Beginners

The American College of Sports Medicine is responsible for providing the syllabus including study resources (including six 90-minute webinars). To become certified, you must take the certification test online. The test should take you less than three hours to complete through Pearson VUE. The hardest part of taking the course and test is finding the time to take it all. You must also have the discipline to do it.

The online study materials make this a lot easier as you can study virtually anywhere you have access to the internet. You can even study on your tablet or smartphone. The course will save your place, so you don’t have to waste time trying to find your spot.

Why is becoming a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer important? There are several very good reasons.

  • It’s an advanced fitness qualification
  • It offers you and your staff career development (and CEUs)
  • Ensures your staff is competent in all areas of liability and compliance

In order to enroll in the Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer program, you or your staff member must already have an American College of Sports Medicine certification or one from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). You must have a personal trainer certification and you must also have current adult CPR certification.

Different Types of Certification

There are many different types of personal trainer certifications. However, becoming an ACSM Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer may be one of the most useful and versatile. Once you have this certification, you should be able to develop autism fitness training programs along with many others for those with different disabilities.

If you own a fitness center or are a certified personal trainer, being CIFT certified is very important. If you have CIFT-certified staff members in your facility, you have the ability to attract a much wider clientele. In turn, this will make your business stand out from the crowd and more competitive. If you and your staff are not CIFT certified, it isn’t about time you sat down and took the class and test. Daniel Stein of Special Strong is CIFT certified and offers autism fitness training services for his local community.



Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. Start your own Special Strong gym franchise today and create a lasting impact on your community.