Editor'sNote: This is the second in a two-part series highlighting onlineeducationalprograms for fitness professionals. Part one explains some of the benefits ofonline education,describesthe various formats that are used and provides examples of onlinedegreeprograms and college certificate programs. This article will focus oncontinuingeducation courses and will highlight several areas of specialization.

OnlineContinuing Education and CEUsThereare numerousorganizationsoffering online continuing education unit (CEU) opportunitiesinjust about any topic area you can imagine. The course formats varygreatly,so do your homework about how the content is delivered and whatisexpected of you as the learner before committing to any course. However,sincethey are focused on CEUs, they can typically be completed ratherquicklyand with minimal eff ort. Following is just a small sample of the manyorganizationsthat offer CEU opportunities online.

HumanKinetics ( offers courses based onexistingbooks. Their website states that the courses are "designed to give youameaningful opportunity to interact with the course subject matter in a waythatwill facilitate your learning."â❠Given that they are the largest book publisherinthe professional fitness sector, there are a lot of courses to choose from.

PTon the NET ( offers a variety of learning opportunities,althoughits purely online course selection is not as robust assomeothers. Choices include courses created in a true classroom learningenvironment,while others are basically webcasts of presentations. This, ofcourse,is in addition to the plethora of articles, videos and other resourcesavailableto members. You must join in order to access the majority of thematerial,but you do not have to be a member to purchase the online courses(althoughmembers receive a discount).

TheAmerican Council on Exercise ( serves assortof a gateway to numerous course providers. Although they deliver anumberof courses themselves, their website serves mainly as a portal toothersites that offer continuing education courses. This is a good place to go(evenif you are not ACE-certified) to check out what might be available inyourinterest areas as the content is well-organized and searchable by topic,provider,ratings and even CEC levels.

IDEA(, one of the world's largest professional membershiporganizationsin the field, offers a significant amount of content online,includingarticles, video demonstrations and conference presentations. Theycurrentlyoffer 59 online continuing education courses based on their content.

Havingadvanced knowledge and skills in one ormoreareas is a key to becoming a highly sought expert trainer. Therefore, Iwantto highlight a few areas of specialization that are hot right now: olderadults,functional training and business management. While these topics are coveredwithin the resources listed above, the programs below representmorein-depth treatments of these subjects that will help you on your journeytoattaining expert status:

  • Certificate in Personal Training and Group Exercise for Older Adults: This college certificate program consists of four courses and an optional internship experience ( There is a traditional format and a self-paced format for the program. In the traditional format, the courses are offered in pairs and last five weeks each. The complete program is offered each spring, summer and fall and can be completed in just 10 weeks, although this is difficult for some since each course takes about eight to 10 hours of study and preparation each week. In the self-paced format, students are allowed to study and complete assignments at their own pace and have up to six months to complete all four courses. This format is more flexible for someone with an unpredictable work schedule or who travels significantly. The program covers aging physiology, exercise prescription, chronic disease conditions, medications, fitness testing, marketing, programming and more.
  • Gray Institute for Functional Transformation (GIFT): If you're up for a challenge, then the GIFT program ( may be just what you are looking for. GIFT is an in-depth training program for professionals that want to immerse themselves in Applied Functional Science. The GIFT program is an intensive 40-week hybrid educational program that includes 100+ hours of DVD instruction, 100+ hours of live instruction, 60+ hours of webcasts and additional learning activities. Students are required to attend three live workshops during the course of the program at the Gray Institute in Adrian, Michigan. Upon the successful completion of the program, students earn the credentials of Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS). However, this education is in-depth and intense, so it doesn't come cheap.
  • Fitness Business Management: The Fitness Business Management online program ( management_course.html) is a college certificate program designed to teach students how to manage a personal training program and/or a health/fitness department in the United States and abroad. Fitness Business Management prepares students to implement successful business systems in the following settings: private and commercial health clubs; medically based fitness facilities; community wellness centers; personal training studios; physical therapy clinics; YMCAs; JCCs; college/university centers; recreational settings; and corporate fitness centers. The complete program includes four courses completed in sequence. A unique aspect offered in the program is the optional field internship, which enables students to practice fitness management concepts in a health and fitness setting.

Onlineeducation is revolutionizing the health and fitness industry.Neverbefore has so much incredible content been more available to professionalsaroundthe globe. I encourage you to take advantage of one or moreofthese numerous opportunities that are only a mouse-click away.

CodySipe, PhD, ACSM-CES, ACSM-RCEP, is an assistant professor ofkinesiologyat UNC-Greensboro, specializing in fitness for older adults. He isanaward-winning fitness professional with over 15 years of experience as apersonaltrainer, group exercise instructor, director, manager and club owner.Hecan be reached at

Read part one>>


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