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Personal Trainer for the Disabled – How to Find One with the Right Certification

Finding the perfect physical trainer for the disabled can be a challenging process. Finding one with the right certifications makes it even harder. It is easy for a personal trainer to claim they can work with the disabled. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have the right certification to do so. There are so many different certifications, how do you know which ones are right for your needs?

Along with this, you face the problem of finding a personal trainer for the disabled who meets your needs on a more personal level. You may find a trainer with all the right certifications, but what if their personality rubs you the wrong way? Unfortunately, the vast majority of personal trainers do not have any experience working with the disabled.

Finding a Personal Trainer for the Disabled Who Is Not Afraid

Before you go too far, you should be aware that trainers not properly certified may be afraid of you. Some will be afraid to ask you about your disability. Why? For most, it is simply that they do not want to offend anyone. You need to be upfront and honest about your disabilities and any special requirements you might.

A large part of becoming certified as a personal trainer involves learning how to talk to those with disabilities. Unless you find a gym/personal trainer with the required training and special needs fitness certifications, you won’t be happy. In fact, you are more likely to be “turned away.” While all gyms must provide access for the disabled, this doesn’t mean they have to hire personal trainers for the disabled.

Questions you need to ask the gym or personal trainer, all of which start with “do they”:

  • Have experience working with the disabled?
  • How much experience do they have with your specific disability?
  • Have certifications that include working with those with special needs?
  • Have the right professional liability insurance coverage?

Let’s break this down into individual sections and cover each of them in a little more detail starting. The best place to start is by looking at certifications required to become a personal trainer for the disabled.

Certification Every Personal Trainer for the Disabled Should Have

Here in the U.S., there are several organizations that offer personal trainer certifications. Yet of these, only a few have certifications that have accreditation through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

Of the many certifying agencies, these have the proper standing:

 

Each of these organizations offers training and certifications designed specifically for helping a person become a personal trainer for the disabled. But there is more to these certifications than meets the eye. Once certified, the personal trainer must attend classes or take online courses to earn Continuing Educations Units (CEUs). The various organizations design these courses to teach new methods and techniques as they become available.

NASM Certification for the Personal Trainer for the Disabled

The National Association of Sports Medicine has been certifying personal trainers to meet the highest possible standards for 30 years. While a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine is a great start, you do not need one to become a trainer. The NASM has a variety of personal trainer certification programs. They also offer several NASM specialization courses and certifications. They help the trainer to offer a wider range of options to their clientele.

The courses offered by the NASM use their Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model. This proprietary training model is based on scientific, evidence-based research. They will help the personal trainer maximize their skills. While not specifically a course for a personal trainer for the disabled, they offer a wealth of training and information that will enable them to be better trainers. This, along with specialty training will go a long way towards ensuring the trainer you choose will be the right one for you.

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NFPT Certification

Then National Federation of Fitness Trainers has been providing accredited personal trainer certification for over 40 years. With these courses, the trainer will learn to work both one-on-one with their clients and with groups. In these certification courses, they will learn the science behind fundamental exercise principles. They provide the skills required to create effective and safe fitness programs. Much of the education they receive can be applied equally to both able-bodied and disabled clients.

During this certification program, the personal trainer for the disabled and able-bodied will learn a great many things. These include anatomy, physiology, and fitness education. They also include how to prevent injuries and how to treat them, along with how to screen and assess clients. The goal is to produce a certified personal trainer who has the skills to help all clients achieve their health and fitness goals.

Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer Certification for the Personal Trainer for the Disabled

What is a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer (CIFT)? Are they the right choice for those looking for a personal trainer for the disabled? To help you understand more about this type of certification, we should start by explaining that it’s offered by the ASCM. It is regulated by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD), a government organization.

In order to become CIFT certified and a personal trainer for the disabled, the trainer will learn a variety of skills related to working with the disabled. Of the various certifications, this is one of the most important as it focuses on working with the disabled. Along with physical fitness training, this certification covers a range of illnesses and disorders.

The trainer will learn how best to communicate with the disabled in a productive way rather than being afraid to talk to them. They learn specific skills regarding encouraging their disabled clients and how to provide positive reinforcement for those they are working with.

One issue many personal trainers must deal with is how not to “stereotype” the disabled. Each client has their own very specific needs. They need their personal trainer for the disabled to know how to work with their particular disability. Keep in mind that this includes both physical and mental disabilities such as autism, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, heart attack, multiple sclerosis, and many others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, finding the right personal trainer for the disabled to meet your needs or those of a loved one can be challenging. Knowing what certifications to look for in your search is a good way to start. You should also be looking for a trainer or gym that can demonstrate they have experience in working with the disabled. More importantly, they should be able to prove they have the skill needed to work with your disability.

Like any other professional such as your doctor or dentist, being certified is only half the picture. You need to find a personal trainer for the disabled who meets your needs on a more existential level. While you don’t have to “love” your trainer, things go better if you like them. Not all trainers will have a personality you can work with.

The best thing you can do in your search for a personal trainer with the right certification is to take your time. Create a shortlist of trainers with the right certifications and then visit each of them. Talk to them about their history, education, and of course certifications. This is the best way to find out which one will be the best trainer for your needs or those of your loved one.


Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.

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