Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Exercise Safety Association a nationally recognized organization?
ESA is not only a national certification but also one of the first professional fitness instructor certifications and the first accredited training organization in the United States. ESA members are located in every state and are recognized by fitness facilities across the country.
My club has never heard of ESA and does not recognize the certification. Why not?
ESA was founded as a national organization in 1978 and was the first training organization in the country to earn accreditation. Numerous facilities leave the choice of professional certification up to the instructor or personal trainer. Some facilities choose a national or preferred certification organization or retain a list of certification agencies that the 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 organization.
One of ESA's primary objectives is to maintain high quality programming while keeping costs low, and therefore, marketing and advertising are conducted in grass-roots campaigns. For the first twenty years of its existence, ESA conducted training tours accompanied by large-scale mail campaigns. In the last fifteen years, to address the needs of the dynamic fitness industry, ESA has been actively conducting locally organized programs solely by request and not in the tour format (see Sponsoring Sites). Despite the change of format, ESA has continued to maintain its long-standing reputation for excellence with safety-conscious fitness instructors and other professional organizations.
Since ESA stopped conducting national tours, some facility administrators within the last ten years may not "recognize" the Exercise Safety Association simply because they are not familiar with ESA's history, activity, and quality reputation. If ESA is not on the list of "recognized certifications," at your facility, ask the manager or committee member who determines the list to review ESA's web site. You can also ask him or her to call Sharon Foy, ESA Director of Education & Training, 407-246-5090. She will answer all questions and provide detailed information about ESA.
Will ESA certification qualify me to teach?
Passing the ESA certification examination demonstrates your proficiency in the basic knowledge necessary to teach and provides a credential that a potential employer will acknowledge (See Primary Certification Exam Objectives).
Is fitness certification a license to teach?
A fitness certification is a professional credential and not a license. To date, the federal government and states have not issued licensing laws that regulate teaching fitness classes or leading sessions in private facilities. The fitness instructors, group leaders, or personal trainers choose their own certification organization as a voluntary personal decision, typically according to their particular exercise philosophies and teaching ethics. Employers consistently require a professional certification.
Some states require any one who works in a fitness facility to have Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification. Check with your individual state to determine their requirements regarding CPR certification.
How do I become an ESA certified fitness instructor?
ESA fitness certification requires passing a written test that measures minimum competency in the specific exercise discipline.
How do I obtain practical training?
All certification examinations test basic proficiency in the subject matter. Passing the examination demonstrates the knowledge necessary to apply the information in a classroom. Practical training, which teaches the application of the educational information, is learned in the on-site training programs or mentoring process conducted by STAR America Representatives. It is also considered an on-going extension of basic training and is learned in continuing education programs. A practical application DVD is included in most of the ESA home study certification training program packages.
How do I prepare for the ESA certification examinations?
It is recommended that a certification candidate prepare for the certification examination by taking a training program. Training can be obtained from an ESA STAR America Representative or by calling 407-246-5090 and ordering one of the ESA Certification Training Programs.
Do I need a current CPR Certification to take a training program?
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification is not required to participate in a training program or the certification examination. However, CPR certification is required to earn the ESA fitness certification. CPR training can be completed after taking the ESA certification examination. ESA allows a three month grace period to earn CPR certification. You must submit proof of CPR completion within ninety days after ESA certification testing.
Is it required to take the ESA SAFE Group Exercise Leader Primary Certification Examination before taking a specialty certification?
The pre-requisite for each ESA course varies. (See ESA Certification Training Programs). ESA strongly recommends the SAFE Group Exercise Leader primary certification because it is the foundation of ESA's fundamental philosophies. A comparable basic credential is accepted to fulfill the pre-requisite prior to or in conjunction with a specialty certification. A comparable credential would include another primary certification or higher education training (degree program) that matches the ESA Behavioral Objectives
Where do I take the ESA certification examination?
The certification examination is included as a part of each training program and is administered in a specially designed home correspondence format, which is regulated by ESA. The administrative fees for ESA certification examinations are included in the tuition of every training program. When you order a home study training program or attend a program provided by a STAR America Representative, you will receive the corresponding certification examination. On-site testing is limited and specially arranged by a hosting facility. You must call the ESA office (407-246-5090) for the availability of an on-site testing location near you.
How much time do I have to complete the examination?
You have three months to complete the certification examination from the day you receive it. It is important to communicate with ESA by phone or email if you will not be able to finish the exam by the expiration date.
What if I can't finish the examination before it expires?
Although it is discouraged, an extension can be granted if you call prior to the expiration date. After the expiration date, an extension is granted at the discretion of administrative staff based on the revision schedule of ESA courses.
How are the examinations scored and what grade is passing?
Certification examinations are specially designed in a comprehensive format that meets the objectives for home correspondence testing. They are scored by an independent committee whose entire function is grading the examinations and determining competency. Passing score is eighty percent.
How will I receive my results?
Results arrive by standard mail (US Postal System). ESA provides pass or fail information but not detailed explanations about incorrect answers.
Can I re-test, if I do not achieve a passing score?
Re-testing can be arranged immediately after receiving results by calling the ESA office (407-246-5090). A teacher/consultant will be provided to assist the re-test candidate with areas of training that need reinforcement. There is a seventy-five dollar ($75.00) re-test fee, which includes the services of the teacher/consultant, who can be contacted by phone or email for training re-enforcement or assistance.
For how many years is my certification valid?
The FIRST ESA certification earned is valid for one year. After the first year, certifications can be renewed for multiple years, up to four, provided the appropriate number of CECs (Continuing Education Credits/Unit) have been earned. (See Certification Renewal).
How do I renew my certification?
Your professional certification is renewed by calling ESA (497-246-5090) and speaking with a certification advisor. ESA requires .6 CECs per year, a valid CPR certification, and payment of administrative fees. The process takes less than five minutes. You need to have all information organized for reference during your phone consultation: a list of your CECs completed (title of course, number of classroom hours, date of completion), CPR certification expiration date, and a credit card to pay the renewal administration fees. You will receive a new certification package in the mail including updated certificates.
It is the responsibility of the certified instructor to keep accurate records and take steps to renew their certification prior to expiration. ESA employs an independent auditor who randomly audits CEC and CPR records, weekly. ESA requires six (6) hours of coursework (.6 CECs) to renew an existing certification for one year. If the certified instructor has earned multiple certifications, the .6 credits can be applied to ALL of the certifications as credit in the same year. ESA enters CEC information in the certified instructor's permanent records, solely, as part of the paid renewal process and not independent of it.
What happens if I get a audited?
The auditor sends a CEC verification form and highlights the information needed. Complete the simple one page form, attach the correct documentation, and return to the address provided.
How are continuing education credits earned and does ESA recognize CECs provided by other organizations?
ESA grants Continuing Education Credits for ALL work that enhances professional development including on-site workshops, training programs, home study courses, articles, and independent study or research from ALL professional organizations. ESA does not employ a petition process for CECs. The ESA training programs in preparation for certification are comprehensive, and therefore, it is the instructor's responsibility to determine the accuracy of CEC information within the CEC class provided by other agencies. A trained and certified ESA instructor will be able to evaluate that information.
However, to reinforce safety information, ESA encourages ESA certified instructors to attend CEC courses provided by STAR America Representatives or order CEC courses from the ESA web site. In addition ESA grants .1 CEC for choreography DVDs and .2 credits for health, fitness, or leadership books. (See Certification Renewal). The certification advisor evaluates the entire life record of the certification to determine the acceptance of discretionary (secondary) CECs. When CEC workshops are not used, the CEC record (over time) must indicate a balance of educational sources.
How is the number of Continuing Education Credits determined?
ESA follows the guidelines and standards of the National Council for Continuing Education and Training. According to national standards, a ONE-HOUR course with ONE HOUR of classroom attendance (no breaks) is awarded .1 continuing education unit or continuing education credit (CEU or CEC). Other organizations may use different guidelines. When submitting your information from another training organization, give the certification advisor the number of HOURS of the class and not the CECs awarded. For home correspondence programs use the number of CECs awarded on the certificate of completion.
Can I use my training program to earn CECs?
The training for the first certification earned cannot be used at the end of the year to renew itself. Subsequent ESA training programs can be applied for CECs worth .6 each.
What is ESA STAR certification?
STAR Certification is recognition of advanced proficiency and is awarded when an ESA instructor earns three or more ESA certifications.
How can I become a member of the ESA advisory board or become a STAR representative or trainer?
Submit a professional head-shot (photo), a bullet point resume featuring six to eight professional accomplishments, and the phone number and times you can be reached. The ESA Board of Directors will evaluate your submission. A member of the board will call you to discuss your areas of interest and ESA's availability of positions.
Can I submit a CEC article to ESA for publication?
Any ESA member can submit an educational article between 750 - 1,000 words. The article is reviewed for accuracy by the Director of Education and Training. Upon acceptance, ESA retains the right to edit the article. A $25.00 honorarium is paid, and .1 research CECs awarded.