To date, the federal government and states have not issued licensing laws that regulate teaching fitness classes or leading sessions in private facilities. However, some states do require Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification to work in a health club. The individual fitness instructor, group leader or personal trainer chooses their certification organization as a voluntary personal decision, typically according to their own particular exercise philosophies and teaching ethics.
Most fitness clubs and facilities require instructors and personal trainers to have earned a professional certification. Numerous facilities leave the choice up to the instructor, but some facilities choose a national or preferred certification organization; others retain a list of certification agencies that the particular facility recognizes. It should be noted, that the list is discretionary and often times credible and reputable training and certification agencies are overlooked for reasons independent of the quality of their programming and testing procedures. Administrators of some facilities may not "recognize" a certification organization because they are not familiar with it. Several national certification organizations and many local or regional organizations exist that provide certification competency examinations. Each organization differs in their philosophy, mission statement, and methods of testing.
Finally, certification is not training. Training prepares a candidate to earn a certification. Certification is the process of receiving a credential after being tested according to an organization's standards and objectives that determines adequate knowledge and skill in the discipline to teach it. A certification is granted for a limited number of years depending on the specific organization's criteria and requires renewal after that time. Each different certification organization maintains explicit renewal standards, policies, and procedures that vary. Most require the certified instructor to maintain a current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification and to earn a specific number of continuing education credits or units.