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Course Descriptions

Online Personal Fitness Training (PFT) Program

Course 1: Introduction to Exercise Science-Level I
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

In this course, students gain an understanding of musculoskeletal and functional anatomy and the effects of exercise placed on joint structures during exercise movements. Emphasis is placed on learning about proper body alignment, joint range of motion (ROM), basic biomechanics, and kinesiological principles to the development of safe and effective exercise programs.

Course 2: Introduction to Exercise Science-Level II
Dan Ritchie, Ph.D, CSCS
This course is designed to teach the personal trainer how the muscular, skeletal, and cardiorespiratory systems function with and without exercise conditioning. Additional topics include energy metabolism, neuromuscular function, and the physiology of exercise in relation to training programs and environmental considerations.

Course 3: Health Risk Profiles and Fitness Assessment Techniques
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

This course teaches students how to assess and evaluate cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular testing techniques, joint ROM, flexibility, body-fat analysis, blood pressure, and body measurements based on ACSM guidelines. Topics include client screening procedures, medical and health history intake forms, identifying high-risk clients, determining the appropriate test, conducting the test, and evaluating the results.

Course 4: Business Administration and Management Aspects for Personal Trainers
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

This course gives personal trainers a solid background in developing or starting a personal training business and prepares them for financial management, marketing strategies, and business plan development. Techniques for effective management include standards and guidelines, facility/studio personnel management, and operational issues from a small personal training (PT) studio to managing a PT department at a large health facility.

Course 5: Designing Exercise Prescriptions for Normal/Special Populations
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

This course teaches how to develop an exercise prescription in relation to health implications for normal/special populations related to age, medical condition, and fitness level. Topics include cardiac conditions, diabetes, physical disabilities, HIV and AIDS, asthma, sensory impairments, pregnancy, and program design for children to senior populations. This course is designed as a research-based class with emphasis on designing a step-by-step process to creating individualized exercise programs.

Optional Elective Course
Optional Field Internship in Personal Training
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI
Prerequisite: 5 Core Courses and CPR Certification
NOTE: This course is an optional course and is not required to receive the Professional Certificate.  Learn to work with professionals in the fitness and health industry for a hands-on experience working with members at fitness facilities and health centers.  Students intern for 60 total hours in this course.

Advanced PFT Certificate Program

Course 1: Nutritional Analysis and Management
Melissa Halas-Liang, RD, MA, CNSD, CDE
Students will study the basic nutrition principles and how to apply them when designing structured nutritional programs for clients in collaboration with registered dietitians and nutritionists. The focus will be on vitamin, mineral, and supplement knowledge; the effects of nutrition on the exerciser and non-exerciser; strategies for successful weight management; and recognizing normal to disordered eating patterns.

Course 2: Functional Flexibility, Core, and Balance Training
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

Students will study principles and techniques for evaluation and implementation of exercise prescriptions that include instruction in flexibility, core, and balance training.  Students will learn how the beginning phases of an exercise program are based upon the starting point/level of the client based upon performance of initial assessments, neurological ability, and individual goals.  In addition, students will learn to implement the Sequential Exercise Training (SET) Model to enhance posture, body alignment, stability, proprioception, and awareness to more complicated exercise movements or functional movements.

Course 3: The Science and Biomechanics of Resistance/Weight Training Techniques
Instructor: Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

This course teaches an educational systematic approach to teaching resistance/weight training movements. The practical application of anatomy, physiology, and body alignment is introduced to analyze weight training techniques, exercise equipment, and the risk/benefit analysis of a specific exercise chosen. Equipment modalities reviewed include stability balls, exercise bands, free weights, body weight, and commercial strength equipment.

About the Instructors and Program Coordinator

Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI

Ken Baldwin, M.ED., is the Program Coordinator and an instructor for the Professional Certificate in Personal Fitness Training Program.  He is the former Chair of IDEA’s National Personal Trainer Committee and Chair of the Senior Fitness Subcommittee for the Massachusetts’s Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports.  Ken is the Senior Editor and lead author for the American College of Sports Medicine - ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer Manual (2nd Ed.) and textbook.  He continues to serve on national committees for ACSM, AAHPERD (AAPAR), and the Medical Fitness Association (MFA).   He has been honored with numerous awards including IDEA’s Personal Trainer of the Year Award, presented at the IDEA International Personal Training Summit.  If you have questions about the certificate program and courses, you may contact the Program Coordinator at

Contact Information
Ken Baldwin, M.ED, ACSM-H/FI
Program Coordinator
Professional Certificate in Personal Fitness Training
IDEA Personal Trainer of Year Award Winner
Email Address:

Dan Ritchie, Ph.D, CSCS
Dan Ritchie, Ph.D, CSCS has a broad background in the fitness industry including training and management in commercial and university/hospital-based fitness, for-profit, not-for-profit and educational facilities.  His primary areas of expertise are in personal training for special populations: athletes, pregnancy, blind, stroke recovery, Parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, etc.  He has worked with Division I athletes, as well as on state funded research on exercise for severe dementia Alzheimer’s type.  He regularly presents at national and regional conferences and has been active on committees for the American College of Sports Medicine.  He completed his Ph.D. in Health and Kinesiology at Purdue University.

Melissa Halas-Liang, RD, MA, CNSD, CDE
Melissa Halas-Liang, RD, MA, is a registered dietitian, with a Masters in Nutrition Education, and a certification in nutrition support. In addition to working as a clinical dietitian, she assist’s in clinical trials, has taught small group diabetes classes, and counseled patients on weight loss. She has spoken on a wide range of topics in the community from diet and fitness to high school sports nutrition. She has spoken at the Woman’s Health Symposium on Fad Diets and on Weight Management and Disease Prevention. Melissa has published articles in periodicals on healthy eating and edited textbook nutrition sections. She developed curriculums for medical residents and lectured to health care professionals for continuing education credits on a variety of topics.  Melissa's enthusiasm for healthy eating is contagious and her outgoing and interactive approach to learning motivates her audience to commit to new lifestyles.

Registration Information

The cost for each course is $249. The cost for the entire Personal Fitness certificate is $1245 or $1544 with the optional elective. The cost to add the Advanced Certificate is $747.

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Last modified on 9/22/14.