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What Does a Career in Corrective Exercise Look Like?

What Does a Career in Corrective Exercise Look Like?

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You may have heard of corrective exercise from a fellow trainer who just earned their certification. Maybe you read about it online or in a health magazine or in one of our other blog posts. And now you’re curious what it is and how personal trainers are using it in their businesses. It’s become quite a buzz word in the industry and one of the fastest growing segments in personal training. 

This article will introduce you to corrective exercise. We hope to answer any questions you may have about the rapidly growing career opportunity available to you in this field. However, if we happen to miss something, just give us a call!

Types of Careers in Corrective Exercise

Many client’s show up for their initial consultation with a laundry list of aches, pains, and injuries. You never know what you’ll get…

  • One client may have nagging pain from an old football injury. 
  • Another client may have a “bum knee” that they just can’t figure out. 
  • This client has chronic lower back pain. 
  • And your newest client is fresh out of rehabilitation after a rotator cuff repair surgery. 

Training clients with movement issues, injuries, and chronic pain can be intimidating. But if they show up looking for help, it’s difficult to turn them away.

You don’t have to close the door on these clients. As an ISSA certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES), you’ll know how to create safe and effective exercise programs for these clients and many others. 

What is Corrective Exercise?

Corrective exercise is a method of training to improve a client’s performance, mobility, muscular endurance, and muscular balance, and to help alleviate pain. 

Specialists in corrective exercise have a keen eye for and pay very close attention to movement patterns. They identify dysfunctions and work with the client to correct them. The exercise program typically includes strength training and functional exercise. Form, balance, and posture are emphasized.

This method of training typically falls into the category of sports medicine. But you’re not limited to working in a career in sports medicine.

Corrective exercises can be used to help athletes—endurance runners, cyclists, extreme fitness competitors—and everyday athletes or weekend warriors. Take that list of clients we just mentioned. They’re the ones who really need a certified personal trainer with the knowledge to help them work through and beyond those aches and pains. They need expert guidance to improve their physical fitness.

What Kinds of Problems Do Corrective Exercise Specialists Help With?

Oftentimes clients choose just one method of exercise, either strength training or cardiovascular training. Limiting training to one type results in plateaus, overuse injuries, and muscular imbalances. A certified personal trainer knows to create periodized programs that include all aspects of fitness. 

A well-designed fitness program prevents many of the issues commonly seen in weekend warriors and novice exercisers. But if your client tried to jump into a cross-fit class after 15 years of avoiding physical activity, they may have overdone it. With a certificate in corrective exercise, you’ll know how to help clients get to a pain-free state.

Dr. Chad Waterbury, author of the ISSA CES course, says certified personal trainers with this specialization will be much better equipped to work with any client. Since most clients have some kind of chronic movement issue, being able to detect and correct those issues is important.

Corrective exercise specialists, like exercise physiologists, help clients:

  • Correct muscular imbalance
  • Complete post-rehab injury recovery
  • Boost sports performance
  • Reduce joint pain
  • Improve posture
  • Enjoy physical fitness

Ryan T. finished the CES course and had this to say;

“This certification program has helped me improve the quality of life for many clients!”

What Does a Corrective Exercise Specialist Do?

The daily tasks of a CES include many of the same things you already do as a certified personal fitness trainer. 

  • Analyze the client’s current health and past medical history to assess their risk during exercise.
  • Perform fitness assessments and analyze the data.
  • Identify movement dysfunctions.
  • Develop corrective exercise strategies unique to each client to correct movement dysfunctions, reduce pain, and improve performance.
  • Monitor performance, cue movement patterns, encourage, and motivate the client.

When you further your education, you’re not adding more tasks to your to-do list. You’re adding more tools to your tool belt. For example, a hammer may not be the right tool for carving marble. But when you get a specialized tool, like a chisel, then the two tools work together perfectly for carving a masterpiece.

Salary Potential for Careers in Corrective Exercise

How much you get paid in any professional varies from region to region. Fitness professionals in Santa Barbara, California will most likely earn more than fit pros in Nashville, Indiana. 

Salary also depends upon where you work. Working at a big gym may pay less than running your own fitness boot camp, or it may pay more. There are lots of variables to consider. Marketing, insurance, and equipment are all costly. At a big gym, that’s covered. If you start your own business, you need to buy everything yourself. 

If it all sounds a little overwhelming, fear not. We’ve written a guide to big gym pay to help you figure out the best option—working for a big gym or striking out on your own—for you.

Regardless of where you choose to work, earning a specialized certification can boost your income by 48%. If you’re currently charging $15 per session, you could be charging $22 per session. If your clients are paying $25 per session, they’d probably pay $40 per session or more to get rid of their aches and pains for good.

Right now, the average income for exercise physiologists and corrective exercise specialists is around $50,000 per year. 

Where Can You Find Work as a Corrective Exercise Specialist?

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, then this certification might be a good fit. Almost 60% of corrective exercise specialists say they are self-employed. As a small-business owner, you need only earn your personal trainer certification or a specialized certification to conduct business. 

Other fitness professionals work in specialty fitness studies—yoga, Pilates, stretching—large gyms, massage studios, and spas. However, if you’re going to work for someone else, they may require a degree in exercise science or another related field.

And there will be no shortage of jobs in the foreseeable future. This career field is expected to grow by 10% to 14% between 2016 and 2026. 

Our aging population is learning about the value of physical activity for longevity. But they need specialized guidance to get moving and improve their health. This is a very unique opportunity. You can get ahead of the curve by starting your own fitness business. Check out our quick start guide, How to Start a Personal Training Business.  

How Can You Earn a Certificate in Corrective Exercise?

If you’ve decided that adding corrective exercise to your personal trainer certification is the next step towards fulfilling your career goals, we invite you to join the ISSA family of certified personal trainers!

The ISSA CES course is a stand-alone course. You don’t need any pre-requisite knowledge to dive in and get certified. This course covers anatomy and physiology, client motivation, movement analysis, and more. It’s everything you need to be successful.

Jodi M. thinks this course is so valuable, it should be taken early in a personal fitness trainer’s career:

“This is a must for anyone who wants to genuinely help their clients. Every individual needs a trainer who can identify and correct improper movements. This course should be taken early in a personal trainer’s career.”

There are some pre-requisites to working in the field. But you can’t get these through formal education. According to, exercise physiologists and corrective exercise specialists need the following qualities:

  • Compassion: Understand that your clients may be in pain. Be sympathetic. Work carefully and cautiously with them to gradually build their fitness and achieve their fitness goals.
  • Decision-making: Confidently prescribe appropriate exercises based on data and science. Strive to improve the client’s quality of life.
  • Interpersonal skills: You’ll be working with the client, their family, and their healthcare team. Strong interpersonal skills are necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page and important details are shared with everyone.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate in Corrective Exercise?

With the ISSA self-paced course, you can take as much or as little time as you want. That means you could be working as a corrective exercise specialist in as few as two or three months! 

How Much Does a Corrective Exercise Certification Cost?

Here’s the quick breakdown of pricing between us and our top competitors. 

  • ISSA: $799
  • NASM: $749
  • ACE: $749
  • Lifetime Academy: $1024

But cost shouldn’t be the only determining factor. We want to make sure you find the right course for you. So, read up on ISSA’s Corrective Exercise online course. You can get started right away online, or give us a call if you have additional questions. 


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