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

In the realm of adaptive fitness training, the key objective is to make fitness regimes accessible and achievable for individuals with disabilities. With the help of certification courses, you will learn to deconstruct complex exercise routines into simpler, manageable movements. Such a simplified approach helps your clients to gradually understand and master the exercises without being overwhelmed. These courses also equip you with the necessary skills to continuously monitor your clients’ regression or progression in mastering these movements, hence tailoring the sessions to their specific needs and capabilities.

Counseling Techniques

As an adaptive fitness trainer, your role transcends beyond just being an instructor; often, you will be a critical source of motivation and a life coach for your clients. Certification courses provide you with the expertise to utilize motivational interventions that can positively influence your clients’ behavior and keep them engaged in their fitness journey. There will also be instances when your clients might divert their attention from their fitness goals; during such moments, your learned counseling techniques will help you to refocus their attention on the importance of their workouts.

Nutrition Counselling

Certain clients may require dietary adaptations different from their family’s regular diet due to their specific health needs. It can sometimes be challenging, especially if an individual is resistant to change, but with patience and the right approach, they can gradually adapt to your dietary recommendations. The courses equip you with the ability to accurately plan meals best suited for their nutritional requirements.

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

Becoming a certified adaptive fitness professional opens doors to a rewarding career dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities engage in meaningful physical activities. To achieve such a certification, specific steps are necessary, each pivotal in shaping your expertise and readiness for the role. Let’s delve into these steps to equip you with the knowledge to embark on this journey.

Step 1: Sign Up

Initiating your journey towards an adaptive sports certification begins with signing up for a program from a recognized institution. It’s imperative to conduct a thorough background check on the institution offering the certification. Look into their affiliations and endorsements from reputable organizations. Aligning your personal goals with the institution’s mission and ethos is crucial. Also, consider the institution’s reputation as reflected in reviews from previous participants. Signing up is the first concrete step towards becoming a certified professional capable of making a significant difference in the adaptive fitness domain.

Step 2: Choose a Program

After signing up, the next vital step is selecting a program that resonates with your aspirations of becoming an adaptive fitness instructor. Evaluate the courses included in your chosen program meticulously. Are they tailored to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in adaptive fitness and sports? Many programs offer specialized tracks focusing on different domains within adaptive fitness, from sports coaching to therapeutic exercise programs. Your choice should not only reflect your career ambitions but also your passion for promoting inclusivity in physical education.

Step 3: Attend your Courses

Once you’ve carefully selected your program, it’s time to immerse yourself in learning. Opting for courses that fit well within your schedule is essential, especially if you’re balancing other commitments. With the advent of technology, many institutions now offer courses online, along with instructional videos. This flexibility ensures that you can progress in your adaptive fitness education without the constraints of traditional classroom settings. Engaging with the course content diligently is key to building a solid foundation for your career.

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

The culmination of your hard work and dedication is the certification exam. Preparing mentally and physically is just as important as your academic readiness. Ensure you’re well-rested and nourished to optimize your cognitive performance. Although the anticipation might be overwhelming, try to maintain a calm and focused mindset. Remember, the time and effort you’ve invested in your training have adequately prepared you for this moment. Approach the exam with confidence, ready to prove your capability to contribute significantly to the adaptive sports and fitness world.

Achieving an adaptive physical education certification is a commendable ambition, reflecting a commitment to making fitness accessible and enjoyable for all, regardless of physical limitations. By following these steps diligently, you will be well on your way to becoming a vital part of the adaptive fitness community, equipped with the knowledge and skills to inspire and motivate individuals through sports and physical activities.

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 10% on your enrolment.

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Thank you for your interest in Special Strong

One of our local special strong trainers will reach out to you shortly.

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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