Sports Medicine Training Certification Competitive Analysis

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Sports Medicine Training Certification Competitive Analysis

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) mentioned that its certifications are the most coveted in the personal training field. For the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), its competitive edge is being recognized as the "#1 rated trainer certification program."
Meanwhile, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) stated that it is the only personal training certification organization that provides an adaptive quiz platform for candidates who are preparing for their personal trainer certification. As for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the organization mentioned that its certifications can help trainers gain a competitive edge over their peers as they ascend to the level of some of the highly-skilled trainers in the field. When it comes to trends in the personal training field, an ACSM survey of fitness professionals mentioned that the use of wearables, the proliferation of high-intensity interval training, and the holding of group training sessions are the top current trends in this space.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM Overview

NASM Personal Training Certification Offering

  • NASM's certified personal training (CPT) course has four programs that include the self-study program, the premium self-study program, the guided-study program, and the all-inclusive program.
  • The self-study program includes "NCAA accredited exams, an NASM-CPT digital textbook, content learning videos, an exercise video library, and practice exams and quizzes."
  • This program is the most flexible as it lets trainers educate themselves with their preferred pace and with no definite schedule.
  • As for the premium self-study program, it includes the components of the basic self-study program on top of inclusions such as "exercise coaching demonstrations, a job guarantee, and a one-year NASM EDGE Trainer Plus."
  • This plan combines flexibility and content.
  • In the case of the guided-study plan, this program includes the elements of both the self-study and the premium self-study programs. On top of these inclusions, this program also provides a 10-week, instructor-led course (optional/flexible), a certification exam retest, and NASM-CPT hardcopy textbook, access to fitness experts, and a business accelerator.
  • This program also comes with more support from a team of coaches who can provide guidance, respond to queries, and offer help. Those who will avail of this program will also be assigned a designated mentor who will assist in applying the lessons learned through online discussion forums and by imparting their professional knowledge in mentored study groups.
  • Meanwhile, NASM's all-inclusive course combines all the components of the previous three programs with the following benefits added: "NASM EDGE CPT exam preparation, Gymternship™, and Recertify for Life."
  • The all-inclusive program was developed to ensure that the trainer is fully prepared for the exam.
  • Those under this plan will also be part of a Gymternship™ Program where they will have an on-site and live interaction with actual clients.
  • The program also features online and practical tasks each week that combine fitness training services, the usual facility work, and mentoring.
  • Those who wish to be certified can take the exam remotely or in-person. The exam is administered by a proctor in both options.
  • Candidates who are eligible to take the exam should be a high school graduate or equivalent, must possess an updated emergency cardiac care (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification, and should be passionate to pursue health and fitness interests.
  • They should also demonstrate their passion for enabling people to reach their fitness goals.
  • Candidates are required to study the Certification Candidate Handbook prior to the exam.
  • Candidates who pass the exam will receive their certification around 4-6 weeks after the exam.

NASM Pricing Scheme

NASM Target Market

NASM Competitive Advantage

NASM also mentioned that it has more than 30 years of training experience.
NASM states that it is the "foremost resource for health and fitness information" globally.
It also continues to improve its fitness best practices by offering superior programs and premium certification courses.
NASM also mentioned that its certifications are the most coveted in the personal training sector. Its systems and methods are considered as the "gold standard" in fitness.
The academy's certification programs demand the highest understanding of "human movement science, functional anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology, as well as functional assessment and program design."

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

ISSA Overview

ISSA Personal Training Certification Offering

  • Trainers can study at home as all the lessons are available online. They can also take the final test at their own homes without needing to go to a testing site.
  • Trainers will also be given a free website and support to acquire their own clients online.
  • They can also get unlimited support from ISSA's network who can help them pass their certification exams as well as assist in finding the right jobs based on their career objectives.
  • ISSA is also offering its trainers with its continuing education unit (CEU) courses.
  • Those who will be undergoing the certification program will be given course materials that contain the most recent content from exercise science and health and fitness studies.

ISSA Pricing Scheme

  • The company is currently offering a discounted price of $66.58 per month or $799 for one year for its personal trainer certification program and a free sports nutritionist course. Aspiring trainers can also start the course bundle for $1.

ISSA Target Market

ISSA Competitive Advantage

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM Overview

ACSM Personal Training Certification Offering

ACSM Pricing Scheme

  • The cost of taking the certification exam is $279 for ACSM member candidates.
  • For non-members, the cost is $349.
  • Re-testing will cost $175.

ACSM Target Market

ACSM Competitive Advantage

  • ACSM stated that it is the only group that can provide a 360-degree view of the sports medicine field.
  • According to the group, their breakthrough research and collaboration helped in delivering innovative solutions across the aspects of "science, practice, education and policy."

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

NSCA Overview

  • The company was founded in 1978 and is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

NSCA Personal Training Certification Offering

  • NSCA provides a checklist to prepare for the NSCA-CPT® test.
  • The checklist involves planning for the test to ensure that the certification being aspired for is the right fit for the candidate.

NSCA Pricing Scheme


NSCA Target Market

NSCA Competitive Advantage

  • NSCA stated that its certifications can help trainers take their credibility to the next level.
  • An NSCA credential also helps trainers to be considered as the "standard" that companies look for when recruiting for fitness jobs that require strength and conditioning expertise.
  • NCSA also mentioned that its certifications can help trainers gain a competitive edge over their peers as they ascend to the level of some of the highly-skilled trainers in the field.

Personal Training Trends

Based on the survey findings of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) from the response of thousands of fitness professionals, the use of wearable technology, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), and group training are the top three fitness trends in the personal training space.
Around 40% of the survey respondents have over ten years of experience in the fitness industry.

Wearable Technology

  • The use of wearable technology in the fitness training field has been one of the leading trends since 2016.
  • The broad use of technologies such as "fitness trackers, smartwatches, HR monitors, and GPS tracking devices" among the fitness practitioners propelled this trend to the top of the list.
  • Some brands that are being used in the space include "Fitbit®, Samsung Gear Fit2®, Misfit®, Garmin®, and Apple®."
  • These wearable devices are being used to track various fitness metrics such as HR, calories, sitting time, and others.
  • There were some initial concerns on the accuracy of these wearable technologies but solutions were already put in place.
  • According to the American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA), using these wearables can enable clients to enjoy more their fitness journey. The devices can also enable personal trainers to monitor their performance.
  • The client's fitness routine can also be inputted into these wearable devices for better tracking.
  • The wearable technology market is currently worth around $95 billion.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

  • HIIT exercise sessions involve high-intensity periods of physical activity followed by a short resting time.
  • HIIT was also the number one trend during the 2014 and the 2018 ACSM survey.
  • From 2014 to 2020, this trend always appeared in the top five of the respondents' selections.
  • These workouts focus on "higher intensities (over 90%) of maximum" while on the heightened intensity span followed by phases of rest and recovery.
  • Even if some fitness professionals are voicing out their concerns that HIIT might cause more injuries, this type of exercise remained the most performed exercise in fitness centers around the world.
  • Many personal trainers are already integrating HIIT routines into their client's exercise plan. For them, this type of routine saves time and provides various health benefits that were supported by studies in this field.
  • Based on a study, an individual's metabolic rate can rise for several hours after doing a HIIT routine.
  • Research findings also show that this type of exercise can result in fat loss, muscle gains, and blood sugar reduction.
  • Given these benefits, the AFPA is predicting that this trend will be popular for a long time.

Group Training

  • Group training sessions involve more than five people.
  • A group exercise instructor will then provide instructions, lead, and drive these participants to perform exercise routines that are designed for bigger groups.
  • These sessions are developed to be suitable for large groups of participants with varying fitness levels. Their trainers typically handle several types of sessions and equipment.
  • Some of the class types include cardio-focused, dance-focused, indoor cycling sessions, step class routines, and others.
  • Other popular group classes are those involving Zumba, cycling, or HIIT routine such as the "OrangeTheory Fitness" style.
  • According to the AFPA, many people have expressed their preference for group training as the format drives their motivation to stretch their bodies to the limit without taking into account their fitness condition.
  • Personal trainers are also advised to take in a bigger client base to build their credibility as an expert trainer.
  • For trainers, the AFPA mentioned that these bigger sessions will make them more productive. They can also earn more from training bigger groups as compared to 1:1 sessions.s
  • These large exercise sessions have been in existence for many years now.
All the details above were also inputted in this shared spreadsheet under the Personal Training tab and the Personal Training Trends tab.

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