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Senior Fitness Instructor Certification

author image Teresa Bergen
Teresa Bergen writes about fitness, health, yoga, travel and the arts. She is the author of "Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide" and has written hundreds of articles for publications online and off. Bergen also teaches yoga, spinning and group fitness classes, and is an ACE-certified personal trainer.
Senior Fitness Instructor Certification
Senior citizens in an aquatic class. Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Baby boomers grew up in an era when jogging and aerobics became mainstream. Now, as Americans age, seniors are more likely than ever before to take care of their health with exercise. New advances in medicine also help them stay active longer. If you want to work with this population, consider getting one of the many senior fitness instructor certifications now available.

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Choose the Right Body for Bodies

If you’re considering certification, choose a legitimate certifying body. The American Council on Exercise is a long-established organization that offers a senior exercise specialist certification. The International Sports Science Association, founded in 1988, offers a senior fitness certification to personal trainers. Many other organizations will also certify you to teach in senior centers, gyms, YMCAs and other venues.

Carry the Correct Credentials

Some certifying bodies demand more from you than others. The widespread SilverSneakers program requires instructors to be at least 18 years old and to hold a current CPR certification. You must also be either a certified personal trainer, a certified yoga instructor or hold a two- or four-year degree in health, recreation or exercise science. The American Senior Fitness Association requires you to take a proctored exam to receive certification. The American Council on Exercise’s senior fitness specialist certification is for people who are already personal trainers. The ACE courses also count as continuing education toward renewing personal trainer certification.

Some Homework Required

Depending on the certification you choose and where you’re located, you might attend an in-person training or study at home. All senior trainings have a text or workbook. You might also watch DVDs or streaming videos online. Some of the major subjects you’ll study include anatomy, nutrition, developing personal and group exercise plans, safety, how to modify exercises for seniors, fall prevention and managing emergencies. If you're getting a more specific certification, such as senior yoga or aqua aerobics, you'll also cover information about that class format.

Prepare to Invest Time and Money

Expect to pay a few hundred dollars to attain your senior fitness instructor certification. Some organizations will charge you more if you need additional study materials. To earn your senior fitness instructor certification through the American Senior Fitness Association, you’ll pay about $249 at the time of publication. To earn your senior specialist certification from ACE will set you back about $399. SilverSneakers is one of the least expensive programs, with its instructor training workshops starting at $40. Don’t forget to also factor in a significant investment in time.

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