Since the first female bodybuilding competitions in the 1960s, women in the sport have struggled to strike a balance between maintaining femininity and showcasing their muscular physiques, a typically masculine feature. Women in bodybuilding face different challenges than their male counterparts, specifically lower testosterone and iron levels, both crucial to developing body mass and muscle. Bodybuilding personal trainers teach women how to overcome flaws to build up their muscles, while in the process also developing strong minds and overall health.
While not required to work with clients, certification shows potential clients that the trainer has gone above and beyond to learn the bodybuilding craft and can pass on that knowledge. Certification comes from different types of organizations, including bodybuilding groups like the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness. Other providers include sport and fitness industry associations such as the International Association of Fitness Sciences (IAFS). Fitness organizations and schools also offer bodybuilding certification, like the Bodybuilding Certification from the American Sports Academy.
Each program includes an educational portion where students study the ins and outs of bodybuilding. Topics covered in certification courses include basic anatomy, physiology, biomechanicals of the muscular system, athlete nutrition and weight lifting safety. Students also learn about sports medicine, carbohydrate depletion and reloading, utilizing different bodybuilding poses, and working with all body types. Often, the courses consist of several chapters or modules, with a test after each section. Providers offer the courses online as self-guided studies, as well as in a traditional classroom setting. Courses also come in the form of in-person conferences, workshops and seminars.
Most of the programs conclude with a final exam that tests a candidate’s knowledge and skills to assure she is ready to pass that knowledge on to clients. Candidates typically take the final exams online or via a third-party computer testing facility, which allows them to receive their results immediately. For some programs, like the certification from IAFS, candidates receive a packet of study materials, study on their own time and then take the exam.
Aside from registering for a certification program and paying a fee, applicants must be at least 18 years old to earn certification. Most programs also require a candidate to hold current CPR and AED certifications. After earning certification, the trainer's work is not done; she must recertify every one to three years, depending on the provider. Recertification typically involves fulfilling a certain number of continuing education credits each year and resubmitting an application for certification. More advanced programs, such as the certification from the American Sports Academy, require applicants to hold at least a high school diploma and have at least some college experience.
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