Requirements to Become an Adaptive Fitness Professional

According to the CDC, persons with disabilities are most likely to have medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other respiratory diseases. In fact, medical professionals highly advise regular physical activities to decrease the risk of getting ill. Unfortunately, adaptive fitness is still not considered accessible to many. As a result, there’s a high demand for professionals with adaptive fitness certifications who can train people with neurological diseases and disabilities. 

So, what does it take to become an adaptive fitness professional? Keep reading to learn more.

What skills do I need to learn?

As an instructor, you must have the proper training, tools, and resources to make fitness safe and accessible for the adaptive population. Generally, signing up for a program will get you the skills you need to qualify for adaptive physical education certification.

Manage Meltdowns

Once you enroll in a program, there will be courses that will teach you how to navigate meltdowns through exercises proven to lessen future occurrences. You will also learn about what triggers their meltdowns and what calms them down. Indeed, many conditions can have you dealing with these, so this might just be one of the most important things you will need to learn. 

Simplify Exercises

The goal is to make fitness accessible to persons with disabilities. You will learn how to break down complex exercises into simple movements. In your courses, you will also be taught how to monitor their regressions and progressions in achieving mastery of those movements. 

Counseling Techniques

You won’t just be an instructor but also their life coach. Therefore, you’ll need to learn to use motivational interventions to improve their behavior. Additionally, there will be times when you will have to redirect their attention back to the importance of what they are doing. 

For nutrition counseling, there may be some that may still need a parent or a guardian. Fortunately, these courses will teach you how to be the facilitator in these certain situations. 

Nutrition Counselling

Your clients may need a different diet from the rest of their family. Some with special needs aren’t open to changes. Generally, it will take time for them to adjust to your dietary recommendations. With this, you will learn how to plan their meals correctly. 

How much experience should I have to qualify?

Enrolling in adaptive physical education certification courses doesn’t require you to have any experience in the fitness industry. As long as you are passionate about fitness and helping people with disabilities, you can qualify as an adaptive fitness professional. 

What courses can I take?

Program bundles include courses that provide education on adaptive and inclusive fitness training. The Adaptive Special Needs Master Trainer Bundle has 8 courses, while the Adaptive Special Needs Fitness Trainer Bundle and Adaptive Special Needs Specialty Trainer Bundle have 4 courses. 

These courses include downloadable tools and templates, a certification diploma, an adapted video, and even live training videos and sample plans. You may also be included in the nationwide directory after completion. Additionally, your profile will be listed among the other available trainers and can be found by someone looking for one in their area. 

What kind of training do I need?

A specific training model is used in Special Strong that focuses on 4 target points. These are emphasized in your courses, so you may be fit to be an adaptive fitness coach. 

1. Target I Core Balance and Flexibility – Focuses on functional movements and corrective exercises. 

2. Target II Brain and Sensory System – Highlights sense of hearing, balance, vision, and touch.

3. Target III Muscle and Strength Development – Comprises anaerobic resistance training.

4. Target IV Endurance and Stamina Adaptation – This entails cardiovascular exercises. 

How do I get an adaptive fitness certification?

While no law requires fitness instructors to get a certification yet, it may matter to clients who choose which fitness programs to sign up for. Not only that, but being a certified professional is an advantage if you are looking to make a career out of your passion for adaptive fitness. 

Steps in Getting an Adaptive Physical Education Certification

If you want to be a certified adaptive fitness professional, here are some easy steps you can follow.

Step 1: Sign Up 

When you sign up for a program with a recognized institution, you must do a background check. Check their affiliations if good ones recommend them. Are your goals in line with theirs? Do they also have good reviews? 

Step 2: Choose a Program

You can check which courses are included in the program. Will the courses help you become the kind of adaptive fitness instructor that you want to be? Generally, there are specific programs for certain areas, such as sports and fitness exercises.

Step 3: Attend your Courses

You will need to choose courses that fit your schedule so that you can attend them. They are conducted online, and instructional videos are provided for the convenience of your learning schedule. 

Step 4: Study Smart for the Exam

If you are working while trying to get your adaptive fitness certification, you must manage your time to study for the exam. Study only what is essential and make notes that you can return to during your free time. Another useful tip is to read from other sources and not only the program’s provided documents, videos, and networks. 

Step 5: Take the Exam

Get some sleep and eat a proper meal before taking the examination. Aside from that, try not to be too anxious to clear your head and remember everything you have studied. Remember that you’ve invested so much in your training. All you can do now is be confident that you can pass the exam. 

What kind of exam is it? 

You will be tested based on your KSAs, knowledge, skills, and abilities. But what is the certification exam for adaptive fitness professionals like? 

Adaptive physical education certification exams are mostly BETA-type exams that will go on for 150 minutes or 2.5 hours. There will be 105 questions developed especially for fitness professionals working with people with disabilities. 

The exam blueprint may have changed over the years, but it will most likely still cover topics on counseling, safety procedures, clinical exercises, and exercise programming. 

What are the requirements? 

Aside from passing the certification exam, a certified adaptive fitness trainer has these other certifications required of them:

  •  ACSM certification 
  • NCCA-accredited health/fitness certification
  • CPR/AED with hands-on practical skills component

They may also have a degree in:

  • Exercise Science
  • Occupation Therapy
  • Adapted Physical Education

What other fitness opportunities await me after getting certified?

After getting your certification, you can explore many adaptive sports jobs since they are becoming more popular. The jobs offered within the private and government sectors are as follows:

Athletic Coach

You will be in charge of planning, strategizing, and executing workout plans depending on the adaptive athlete’s needs. An athletic coach is a role that requires demonstrative skills and extensive knowledge of a sport and its equipment so you can teach people with disabilities safely and effectively. 

In short, your job is to help your client reach their full potential as an adaptive athlete. This may or may not require a degree, but having a certification will get you ahead of those who don’t. 

Athletic Trainer

As someone who works in partnership with the coaches, you will need knowledge of your adaptive athletes’ sports and athletic areas. You may also be required to work with physical therapists to ensure your client’s overall wellness. Certainly, your certification as an adaptive fitness professional will be leveraged. 

Program Coordinators, Site Coordinators, and Program Administrators

You can apply for an administrative role with your certification. Generally, your work requires you to ensure that programs and facilities work effectively. Securing facilities, competitions, training schedules, and other fitness instructor logistics are a part of your responsibilities. Additionally, this role ensures that everything in the fitness program runs smoothly. 

Private Trainer

With your certification, you can have private clients with your time in your hands. You may also advise parents and caretakers on activities, ways how to monitor behaviors, and other exercises that may help improve your client’s compliance and motivation.

Perks of Being an Adaptive Fitness Professional Trainer

Being an adaptive fitness professional trainer comes with several significant perks. Firstly, it provides the opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life by improving their physical health and self-confidence. These trainers cater to individuals with disabilities, giving them a chance to achieve fitness goals they thought were unattainable. Secondly, the profession offers the chance to continuously learn and grow. As medical and technological advancements emerge, trainers can adapt and implement new training methods, making it an ever-evolving field. Plus, it allows creativity in designing personalized workouts to accommodate different needs. Lastly, this career provides considerable personal satisfaction, knowing you are positively impacting the lives of those facing unique challenges, fostering a sense of fulfillment and purpose, unlike many other professions.


Thanks to adaptive sports and fitness, people with disabilities and special needs can improve their body coordination, awareness, and self-confidence, contributing to their overall health. Additionally, the increase in adaptive sports jobs indicates that more people like you are paying attention to the adaptive population. 

Your willingness to be a part of their life-changing journey is a big step requiring only minimal effort, which can start immediately! Get your adaptive fitness certification and sign up today to save 50% on your enrolment.

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In your area we provide virtual in home training. Please take a look at this video to know more about what to expect in a training class. Also join our Facebook and Instagram community where we highlight stories of our clients overcoming challenges to live an abundant life. We hope to highlight your story soon.

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