How to Become a Core and Balance Exercise Instructor
Core and balance training is not exactly a new trend. It has been used for years by trainers and physical therapists. But over the past several years, core and balance have become more of a focus in personal training. The core refers to the muscles in your trunk that provide support and stability for your body. Your core is used in any kind of athletic activity, but you also use your core muscles daily. The stronger your core, the more ease you will have doing almost anything. Balance also relies on a strong core.
Careers in personal training are high in demand throughout the United States. How much training you need will depend on where you decide to work and what you choose to do. Once you become a certified personal trainer, you can determine if you want to focus on a specialty such as core and balance training. Sometimes, specific training will be required for additional specialties. If you are planning to work with athletes at any level, then you will most likely need to earn a fitness-targeted degree.
What are the Benefits of Core and Balance Training?
As mentioned, your core refers to the group of muscles found in the trunk of your body. When these muscles work together and contract, they provide stability from the shoulders through the spine down to the pelvis, thus providing a solid support base for the whole body. The following muscles make up the core:
- The erector spinae—a set of three muscles located from neck to lower back
- The external obliques—situated on the front of the abdomen and the sides
- Gluteus maximus—located on the backside of your body, back of the hips and upper thighs
- Gluteus medius and gluteus minimus—the sides of the hips
- Hip abductors—the middle thigh muscles
- Hip flexors—run from the front of the pelvis down the upper part of the thigh
- The internal obliques—located in the abdomen under the external obliques, running in the opposite direction of the external obliques
- The multifidus—muscles that help the spine extend and rotate, found along the vertebral column
- Rectus abdominis—muscles located in front of the abdomen and also referred to as “abs” or a “six-pack”
- Transverse abdominis— the deepest abdominal muscles, which provide protection and stability to the spine
While many fitness trends may come and go, core and balance training are trends that will not go out of style. Why? There are several benefits to having a stable and robust core. Having a strong core helps you keep good posture, which reduces pressure on your spine. If you have a weaker base, this can cause you to have a swayback posture, which leads to back pain and can leave you vulnerable to injury. If you are an athlete, having a strong core improves your athletic performance. And all your body’s power movements come from your core. So, the stronger your core, the more power you are putting out to your arms and legs. Finally, having a stable core improves your overall balance. This will help you with everyday activities and reduce your risk of falls and injury.
There are quite a few exercises that can be performed to strengthen the core. The most effective practices will engage any number of muscles located from your shoulders to your hips and thighs, not just the abdominal muscles. Most of these will be basic exercises that rely on body weight. You might use any of the following exercises to build core strength:
- V sit-ups
- Knee raises
- Hip bridges
- Oblique twists
- Leg lifts
- Lunge and twists
- Pilate exercises
- Yoga poses
No equipment is required for these exercises; however, you can incorporate some lightweight equipment along with these exercises. These include lighter handheld weights, medicine balls, stability balls, resistance bands and kettlebells. Most importantly, the types of exercises you use will depend on your clients and their abilities.
Why Become a Core and Balance Exercise Instructor?
Careers in fitness training are increasing in demand and currently growing at an impressive annual rate of 13 percent nationally. Therefore, this is a stable career that will provide you with job security as demands for trainers increase. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness trainers and instructors earn an average of approximately $40,000 annually. The highest ten percent of earners in the field earn an average of more than $75,000 annually. Trainers with certification or those who add specialties such as core and balance training can potentially add even more income.
If you are interested in working as a personal trainer who specializes in core and balance training, then you need to be passionate about fitness. You should love to exercise yourself and be physically fit, and you must also be genuinely interested in helping others meet their fitness goals and become stronger. You’ll need to have good listening and communication skills and be able to tell others how they need to improve their workouts to get the most effective results.
Core and Balance Training Educational and Certification Programs
To work as a core and balance exercise instructor, you need to have at least a high school diploma. Some trainers don’t have any other degrees. Still, as demand for trainers increases, people are interested in hiring the best in the field, and this includes having an associate or bachelor’s degree in a health or fitness-related field. Examples include exercise physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, physical education and sports medicine. All programs will focus on studying human movement, nutrition, and fitness and wellness assessment. Coursework might include medical terminology, the essentials of fitness assessment, first aid and CPR, the physiology of exercise, ethical issues in healthcare, anatomy and nutrition. You will also learn how to create effective fitness programs for clients of different abilities and ages.
In addition to an associate or bachelor’s degree in a field related to personal training, your educational preparation will likely include professional certification. Although voluntary, many personal trainers pursue certification, both for professional achievement and to meet employment requirements.
Furthermore, you may want to seek certification in core and balance training. There are several organizations that offer certification in this specialty. Here are a few of them:
- The American Sports and Fitness Association (ASFA)—The ASFA offers a Balance and Stability Certification as well as a Core Training Certification. These certifications help educate trainers to help their clients achieve better core strength, balance and stability. Both certifications can be taken online and contain questions related to balance assessment and balance-featured drills, core assessment, core exercises and core strength development. Obtaining either certification or both can help your ability to support all your clients, no matter what their age or ability.
- National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)—NESTA has a Core Conditioning Specialist certification that is offered online. In paying for the certification, you will receive training in addition to the certification exam. You can take courses at your own pace. All classes are taught by a certified fitness educator and trainer. Once certified, your certification does not expire, and you will have access to continued education training.
- The American Council on Exercise—The Functional Core and Balance program that the American Council on Exercise offers is geared more toward working with senior adults. However, the tools and techniques taught can be implemented into any exercise program for any age group. This program concentrates on four levels of balance training that focus on core strength and joint stability.
Working as a Core and Balance Exercise Instructor
If you choose a career as a core and balance exercise instructor, you will have some flexibility. You may work full-time as a trainer, or you might work full-time in another field and teach core and balance training on a part-time basis. You may work at a gym or fitness center, or you may travel to different locations to train clients. You might go to clients’ homes or teach classes out of your own home. With a focus on core and balance, you may even teach classes at nursing homes or senior centers. Or you may choose to open your own fitness studio. Your hours will also vary. Fitness trainers of all types often have early morning classes as well as classes that go later into the evenings. They also might have to work on weekends and holidays.
No matter where you choose to work, you will need to bring in and clients and retain them. This might include creating and handing out business cards, attending networking events, and promoting your classes and services on social media. If you have your own business, it would also be wise to have a website, which would require maintenance. Furthermore, you will need to know how to keep records and be able to hire and manage staff.
This can be a fulfilling and rewarding career. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort for training and certification, you can be working as a core and balance exercise instructor in two years or less.