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Standards of Practice

Mission Statement

The mission of the National Council on Strength and Fitness Board for Certification is to establish, assess and promote standards for fitness professionals in a continued effort to foster a high level of professional competency and ethical practice to serve the public’s interest.


The Standards of Practice and Disciplinary Process of the NCSF Board for Certification (NCSFBC) is intended to assist and inform the public, certificants, and candidates for certification, of the NCSFBC Standards of Professional Practice and the Disciplinary Process relative to professional conduct and disciplinary procedures.

The NCSFBC conducts a certification program for personal trainers and has established a recertification requirement for NCSF certified personal trainers (NCSF-CPT). The NCSFBC affirms that, after a candidate has successfully passed the certification examination, the Standards of Professional Practice for entry into the profession of personal training have been satisfied. It is expected that a certificant or candidate for certification agrees to comply at all times to the following Standards of Professional Practice.

Standards of Professional Practice

A. Standards of Professional Practice for Personal Training – Direct Service

The following are minimal standards. Each one is essential for the practice of personal training. Each one is essential for the practice of personal training.

Standard 1: Role

The personal trainer renders service to clients as an independent agent or under the direction of a personal training services coordinator.

Standard 2: On-Going Care Services

All services, including evaluations, testing and exercise program prescriptions should be documented in writing by the personal trainer and shall become part of the client’s permanent records.

Standard 3: Documentation

The personal trainer shall accept responsibility for recording details of the client’s health status and any activities associated with the delivery of professional services.

Documentation shall include:
  1. Client's name, emergency contact information and any other identifying information

  2. Informed Consent, screening activities and participation determinations

  3. Medical referrals and restrictions or limitations , if applicable

  4. Evaluation data including date, assessments used, results and relevant findings

  5. Program goals and estimated training cycle length

  6. Program activities including methods, results and revisions

  7. Date(s) of assessment and training

  8. Re-evaluation criteria

  9. Incident reports including psychological or physiological events

  10. Personal trainer's signature on documentation

Standard 4: Confidentiality

The personal trainer shall maintain confidentiality as determined by law and shall accept responsibility for appropriately communicating assessment results, program plans, and progress with clients and other persons involved in the client's program.

Standard 5: Health Screening
Prior to any program participation, the personal trainer shall fully assess the client’s level of function as it pertains to health and physical fitness. The client's input shall be considered an integral part of the initial assessment. All findings should be documented.

Standard 6: Program Planning
The personal training program shall be based on participation clearance and the objectives shall include long and short-term goals based on evaluative criteria which should be documented in a needs analysis. Goals shall be achievable and used to guide the program. Assessment measures to determine effectiveness of the program shall be incorporated into the plan and should be client appropriate. Additionally, a contingency or emergency plan should be included as applicable.

B. Standards of Professional Practice for Personal Training – Service Programs

Standard 1: Objectives
Basic to the development of any program is its intended purposes. Objectives and protocols specific to goal attainment should be premeditated and clearly outlined for each goal, including: rationale, exercise prescriptions, timeline, re-evaluations and supportive services.

Standard 2: Programming
Each objective should be supported by detailed plans for its implementation including specific protocols, the implementation of exercise program principles and a plan for revisions as necessary.

Standard 3: Evaluation
Objective methods of data collection and analysis should be used in relation to each component of the program to determine the effectiveness of the service. The evaluation instrument or method should reflect the relative capabilities of the client and should serve the clients best interest. If the evaluation indicates a need for change, appropriate revisions or modifications should be made.

Standard 4: Types of Services Offered
Personal training services must be appropriate for the identified need and stay within the scope of the profession. In general, the service should aim at an overall enhancement of an individual’s health and fitness status and the prevention of any potential health consequences. Program priority should be directed at reducing known risk for injury, disease or health issue, while addressing the desired and overall needs of the client.

Standard 5: Personnel
The service program should be directed by a National Council on Strength and Fitness Board for Certification (NCSFBC) Certified Personal Trainer who has met the qualification standards established by the NCSFBC. Education, qualifications and experience of all other personnel should meet existing standards and should be appropriate to their duties.

Standard 6: Facilities and Budget
Appropriate resources should be secured and used to facilitate the safest and most effective implementation of the service program.

Standard 7: Records
Objective, permanent records of each aspect of the service program should (1) indicate initial screening, evaluation and assessment protocols and findings; (2) client goals, exercises prescription(s) and lifestyle modification recommendations (3) dates and findings of subsequent follow-up evaluations when applicable.