ACE feels certain “social deterrents” to a healthier lifestyle can be overcome by educating fitness professionals.
As part of its continuing education offerings, the American Council on Exercise is now offering an online course that “provides actionable steps you can apply every day to address equity, diversity and inclusion.” ACE is the main certification organization for personal trainers in the U.S.
This is their first course to take an expansive approach to such issues. ACE was moved by the disparate effects of COVID-19 on different populations, Cedric Bryant, PhD, president and chief science officer told Athletech News. “If you see what we see in the pandemic, where inequality has been linked to coronavirus and having poorer outcomes, it became important for us to have a way to address this.”
The ACE course materials of “Create a Better Industry, One Conversation at a Time” do not explicitly mention ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or any of the other categorizations whose concerns actions on equity, diversity and inclusion often address. Instead, the course includes materials on empathy, exploring one’s own implicit bias and using a “person-first approach” that incorporates a client’s unique motivations.
Also included in the ACE course are lessons the “social deterrents” of leading a healthy lifestyle and on broaching the potentially sensitive subject of prediabetes (which can breach the potentially sensitive areas of body image and size).
“The fitness industry, by the nature of the services we provide, will be exclusionary, because of the financial resources you will need to get the services,” said Bryant, who represents ACE as a national and international presenter, writer and subject-matter expert, and highly sought-after media spokesperson. This has the effect of “making the fitness professionals used to seeing a certain type of client.”
“People tend to think in terms of race and ethnicity but there are also physical abilities,” the ACE leader added, “but also we are not always the best at working with people with different capabilities.”
Those who are already fit and show a high degree of physically capability are easily drawn to fitness programs. “For them, it’s a joy. But for some people, it may bring back negative experiences from all the way back in school.” This creates a reinforcement that determines the “types” of people with whom fitness instructors interact regularly and do not service often. ACE course’s goal is to uncover biases that may stem from this.
ACE-certified personal trainers have to recertify every two years, a process that requires 2.0 continuing education credits. The “Create a Better Industry” course is worth 0.3 credits.
The course is free for people who are already ACE-certified professionals and offered at a discounted price of $29.99 (as opposed to the usual $59.99) to anyone else. The organization hopes that 20 percent of ACE-trained exercise professionals take it within a year.
Nick Keppler is a freelance journalist, writer and editor. He enjoys writing the difficult stories, the ones that make him pore over studies, talk about subjects that make people uncomfortable, and explain concepts that have taken years to develop. Nick has written extensively about psychology, healthcare, and public policy for national publications and for those locally- based in Pittsburgh. In addition to Athletech News, Nick has written for The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Vice, Slate, Reuters, CityLab, Men’s Health, The Gizmodo Media Group, The Financial Times, Mental Floss, The Village Voice and AlterNet. His journalistic heroes include Jon Ronson, Jon Krakauer and Norah Vincent.