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Scope of Practice

The Legal Stuff

We are not medical doctors, physical therapists, or registered dietitians. It is outside our scope of practice to give medical advice. We cannot diagnose infirmities, treat injuries or diseases, prescribe diets or recommend supplements, nor rehabilitate clients.

ACE-Certified Personal Trainer Scope of Practice

The ACE Certified Personal Trainer is a fitness professional who has met all requirements of the American Council on Exercise to develop and implement fitness programs for individuals who are apparently healthy or have a physician’s release for exercise. The ACE Certified Personal Trainer realizes that personal training is a service industry focused on helping people enhance fitness and modify risk factors for disease to improve health. As members of the allied healthcare continuum with a primary focus on prevention, ACE Certified Personal Trainers have a scope of practice that includes:
  • Developing and implementing exercise programs that are safe, effective, and appropriate for individuals who are apparently healthy or have medical clearance to exercise
  • Conducting health-history interviews and stratifying risk for cardiovascular disease with clients in order to determine the need for referral and identify contraindications for exercise
  • Administering appropriate fitness assessments based on the client’s health history, current fitness, lifestyle factors, and goals utilizing research-proven and published protocols
  • Assisting clients in setting and achieving realistic fitness goals
  • Teaching correct exercise methods and progressions through demonstration, explanation, and proper cueing and spotting techniques
  • Empowering individuals to begin and adhere to their exercise programs using guidance, support, motivation, lapse-prevention strategies, and effective feedback
  • Designing structured exercise programs for one-on-one and small-group personal training
  • Educating clients about fitness- and health-related topics to help them in adopting healthful behaviors that facilitate exercise program success
  • Protecting client confidentiality according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and related regional and national laws
  • Always acting with professionalism, respect, and integrity
  • Recognizing what is within the scope of practice and always referring clients to other healthcare professionals when appropriate
  • Being prepared for emergency situations and responding appropriately when they occur

Fitness Nutrition Specialist

In addition to the ACE-Certified Personal Trainer Scope of Practice, Fitness Nutrition Specialists must be careful to only discuss diet and nutrition information which lies within our scope.

What we can discuss:
  • Principles of healthy nutrition and food preparation
  • Food to be included in the balanced daily diet
  • Essential nutrients needed by the body
  • Actions of nutrients on the body
  • Effects of deficiencies or excesses of nutrients
  • How nutrient requirements vary through the lifecycle
  • Information about nutrients contained in foods or supplements
Outside of the scope of practice:
  • Individualized nutrition recommendations or meal planning other than that which is available through government guidelines and recommendations, or has been developed and endorsed by a registered dietitian or physician
  • Nutritional assessment to determine nutritional needs and nutritional status, and to recommend nutritional intake
  • Specific recommendations or programming for nutrient or nutritional intake, caloric intake, or specialty diets
  • Nutritional counseling, education, or advice aimed to prevent, treat, or cure a disease or condition, or other acts that may be perceived as medical nutrition therapy
  • Development, administration, evaluation, and consultation regarding nutritional care standards or the nutrition care processing
  • Recommending, prescribing, selling, or supplying nutritional supplements to clients

ACE-Certified Personal Trainer Code of Ethics

ACE-Certified professionals are guided by the following principles of conduct as they interact with clients/participants, the public, and other health and fitness professionals.

ACE certified Professionals will endeavor to:
  • Provide safe and effective instruction
  • Provide equal and fair treatment to all clients/participants
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest health and fitness research and understand its practical application
  • Maintain current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and knowledge of first-aid services
  • Comply with all applicable business, employment, and intellectual property laws
  • Maintain the confidentiality of all client information
  • Refer clients to more qualified health or medical professionals when appropriate
  • Uphold and enhance public appreciation and trust for the health and fitness industry
  • Establish and maintain clear professional boundaries


Please contact us if you have any questions relating to what we can, and cannot do, within our scope of practice.

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Photo Credits:
All text by John Cripps
Top Photo: Ingram Falls, Seminary Canoe Rental, Mississippi. Photo by John Cripps
Bottom Photo: Fishhook Area, Alaska. Photo by John Cripps
Bottom logo by Jennifer Cripps