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July 08
Raising the Bar for Exercise Professionals

​by Brian Biagioli, NCSF

Reputable organizations that support clinical and applied exercise professions have made significant strides in improving competency standards and the technical capabilities of practitioners over the past three decades. Maturity in the standard-setting division of the health and fitness industry has positioned specific professions for distinct roles within the allied health sector. The charge toward raising the bar and earning recognition for qualified exercise professionals has been the primary mission of the Coalition for Registration of Exercise Professionals® (CREP®). The multi-organization members of CREP® all provide certification programs accredited by the NCCA, consistent with those aligned professions of the allied health fields including physicians, nurses, registered dietitians, and athletic trainers. This is significant for career-oriented professionals as the allied health landscape provides a growing number of future opportunities for those pursuing health-related careers.

The first step in the process of elevating the exercise professions is establishing a recognized distinction of competency. CREP® has done this by creating the largest register of exercise professionals in the world. Consumers and employers can trust that those individuals listed in the United States Registry of Exercise Professionals® (USREPS®) have been vetted against a uniform and recognized standard, are required to comply with ethic and professional practice guidelines, and are in good-standing with their professional credential requirements. No other mechanism in the United States meets this level of consumer protection for employing an exercise professional.

Consistent with governmentally regulated professions, CREP® members require passing a competency-based examination in order to be eligible for registration. The term "Registered Exercise Professional" is the new distinction in the health and fitness industry to identify an individual who is appropriately qualified to provide services related to their specific role acknowledged within the registry. This follows best practices of other leading allied health professions. USREPS® is a member of the International Confederation for Registers of Exercise Professionals® (ICREPs®), a multi-continent association of registers from around the world. Based on the documented, internationally-recognized competency standards for registered exercise professionals, those listed in in USREPS® have the opportunity for portability of their credentials to registers in other countries.  

The credentialing process is not the only bar that has been raised within the fitness industry. In further alignment with compatible allied health fields, the competency requirements of professions on the register is supported by programs in secondary education. College and university exercise science programs are expected to use the role delineation data from job task analyses of the registered professions to help set curriculum for specific roles if they seek program accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The Committee on Accreditation for Exercise Sciences (CoAES) is the body that evaluates alignment based on the identified tasks required of the roles associated with exercise science programs.  CAAHEP program accreditation ensures that students have covered the learning domains necessary for success on competency-based exams from NCCA accredited certification programs. While a college education may not be a pre-requisite for certain roles on the registry, it further aids in the distinction and recognition for those that require a certificate, 2, or 4 year degrees as part of the competency requirements. 

CREP strongly encourages stakeholders at all levels to become educated in the manner professionals earn qualifications so they may be eligible for the United States Registry of Exercise Professionals®. For more information on member organizations, academic programs, employment, and consumer protection please go to USREPS.org.   

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