ACSM Health Fitness Specialist Certification

Health Fitness Specialists help a wide variety of individuals achieve fitness goals.
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The American College of Sports Medicine is the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science research and certification organization. The ACSM certifies fitness professionals in several skill sets, including the Health Fitness Specialist certification. The HFS is an advanced certification that demonstrates knowledge and competency in kinesiology and exercise science, and holders work in a variety of settings to help clients meet their health and fitness goals and to adopt healthy and active lifestyles

Scope of Practice

    Health Fitness Specialists perform a variety of health and risk assessments and use this information to design prescriptive exercise programs based on client needs and fitness goals. Like a personal trainer, an HFS uses behavioral strategies and motivational techniques to encourage clients to adopt healthy and active lifestyles. An HFS has additional skills and knowledge that allows her to work with higher-risk clients who have certain controlled medical conditions or diseases. An HFS might work in a hospital or university, as a corporate health provider or as a trainer in a studio, gym or community center.


    The HFS certification is an advanced specialization and requires a bachelor's degree or higher in exercise science, exercise physiology or kinesiology. This degree must cover key health and fitness information, including human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics and exercise program design. The degree program should also cover care for special populations, such as older adults, children, pregnant women and certain medically controlled injuries and diseases, such as diabetes or a heart condition. HFS candidates must also hold current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator usage.

Certification Exam

    Candidates obtain HFS certification by sitting for -- and passing -- the ACSM HFS exam. The ACSM provides three ways to review for the exam: printed materials, webinars and in-person workshops. Candidates can purchase review materials and sign up for the exam via the ACSM Certification website. At the time of publication, the cost of the HFS exam is $279 for non-ACSM members and $219 for members. Students are eligible for the exam if they are in the last term of their degree program.

Recertification Requirements

    HFS certification is an ongoing process: certificate holders must keep learning and stay current to maintain their HFS status. The ACSM requires an HFS to obtain at least 60 continuing education credits every three years. An HFS must also maintain current CPR/AED certification and pay a recertification fee -- $45 at the time of publication -- every third year.

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