Wednesday, September 1

How to Become a Bootcamp Instructor - A Guide to Fitness Training Certifications

by Jill Tomich, LWMC

It's not uncommon for someone who finds the enjoyment, adrenaline and  passion for exercise to find themselves asking the question:  "I wonder what it takes to become a trainer or coach?"

If this is you, then you've already taken the first step towards the fitness industry by expressing your curiosity and desire.  And why not? The benefits of becoming a personal trainer, boot camp instructor or Group Exercise Teacher are vast.  The world of fitness is inherently filled with positive, encouraging people;  Fitness Trainers get satisfaction out of helping others; and it's a flexible industry with many different career paths - even if only part time. In fact, here at Ultimate Bootcamp many instructors work only 2 hours per week, leaving them with plenty of time for full-time jobs, family and friends.

Whether you're looking to capitalize on your motivational talents part-time or are ready to go "all in", finding the proper fitness training certification is essential.

[From Weymouth to Westborough, Norwood to Newton, Woburn to Wakefield and everywhere in between, Ultimate Bootcamp is looking for superstar trainers to join our team in 2011. Do you have what it takes?]

Group Fitness Certification vs Personal Training Certification
The number of fitness certifications available can be overwhelming.  Since teaching a boot camp workout requires the skills of BOTH a group fitness instructor AND personal trainer, either fitness certification is suitable.  You'll gain valuable information from either.

On a whole, Group Fitness Certifications tend to be less science based and provide a solid foundation if you're just venturing into the fitness arena. To build upon your knowledge, Personal Training Certifications provide a more in-depth look at how the human body functions and how to build a safe, effective fitness program that will get clients results.

Fitness Certification Guide
Here, I've listed some of the best fitness certifications that will help cultivate the skills and knowledge necessary to become a boot camp trainer.  There are other great certifications and college courses that require more of your resources (both time and money), but these certifications - combined with practical training from a senior boot camp instructor - will get you on the right track.

Most certifications require proof of CPR before sitting for the exams and after passing, Continuing Education Credits to keep your certification in good standing. Be sure to review each website for the most up to date and complete information.

AFAA - Aerobics and Fitness Association of American
Most notably known for their Primary Group Exercise Certification, AFAA also offers Kickboxing and Step certifications.  Their tests, held about once a month in the Boston area, typically consist of an entire day of test review in addition to the interactive and written exam ($299 for the package).  In addition, at-home study materials ($109) are available to help you prepare for the exam. Be on the lookout for their APEX training certification weekends where certifications only cost $99!

ACE - American Council on Exercise
This non-profit organization not only provides Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer certifications, but they also perform public community outreach and fitness trend research. The flexibility of their computer based testing ($249) options means in New England you can take the test almost any day you'd like. Written exams ($200) are also available less frequently. Their free Study Coach Program sends you email reminders about your home-study progress (they recommend 3 months of study) and they offer a wide array of study material packages. ($200-$579) Other advanced certifications are available from ACE.

ACSM - Amercian College of Sports Medicine
ACSM's Personal Trainer Certification is backed by a community of scientist providing valuable research that sets the health standards for the entire fitness industry. The Personal Trainer Exam ($279 ) is just the first step in many other clinical and special population certifications you can acquire. Because the information tested on is in-depth and technical, ACSM provides in-person workshops, an online learning portal and extensive home study materials ($40-$140). Only computer-based testing ($279) is available.

NASM - National Academy of Sports Medicine
NASM is popular amongst Personal Trainers who work with athletes because of their advanced certifications which focus on sports performance and injury prevention. Their Personal Trainer Certification packages range from the basic exam ($549) to a premier package ($799) which includes study guides, mp3s, videos, online learning and live workshops. With the learning tools NASM makes available, it makes processing the intensively technical information a lot easier and much quicker. After all, if you don't take the test within 180 days of purchasing your certification package, they require you to pay a retesting fee in order to get certified. With testing centers throughout Massachusetts, it's easy to schedule your test date.

Do you have what it takes to become an Ultimate Bootcamp Fitness Trainer? Click here to find out

Jill Tomich is co-founder of Greater Boston's Ultimate Bootcamp and is a certified Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant and Fitness Trainer. In her spare time, she also runs a bridal fitness and diet website at