The National Board of Fitness Examiners (NBFE) is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 2003 to fulfill two district needs. First, the NBFE addresses and defines

a series of prescribed “scopes of practice” for fitness professionals. The second,

is determining the “standards of each practice”.



Creating the first industry-wide examination for personal fitness trainers is a comprehensive process requiring input and feedback from many sources. The NBFE employs the very best practices in high-stakes testing and leading psychometric standards as defined by the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association, National Council of Measurement and Evaluation, and the American Evaluation Association. In the context of testing, validity means that an examination tests what it is intended to test. Reliability means that the examination consistently measures each test taker with predictable results. An unbiased test is one that provides no advantage to test takers other than the knowledge associated with the examination.

High-stakes exams begin with a domain analysis, which determines the skills and knowledge of a defined practice or area of content. The NBFE has used several methods to establish and validate the practice domain for personal fitness trainers. The domain analysis begins with an organization choosing subject matter experts [SMEs]. Our NBFE Fellows are active and experienced personal trainers and most held multiple fitness certifications and/or academic training in related fields. The NBFE Fellows completed the process of analyzing job responsibilities and required knowledge, skill and ability of the fitness professional. This process delineates final areas of job responsibilities, and domains of learning. From this, a committee develops a course curriculum to support the identification of job roles/responsibilities and content domains. To assess learning, courses utilize both theoretical and practical exams. Outside experts in research and measurement, along with statisticians, analyze the testing results. Reports of the analysis are compiled and recommendations given. Then NBFE Review Board of Examiners determine the next step in implementing recommendations. Implementation includes a time, period set for re-evaluation.

By finalizing this comprehensive process, the NBFE recommendation for fitness certification organization programs to develop curriculums using seven (7) major test areas and sixteen (16) measurable test objectives to ensure that graduates of the program are prepared to take the NBFE National Board Exams.

Testing Sections and Objectives

Section 1: Program Design
1.1. Design and implement an exercise program for an individual's specific situations and goals (e.g., obesity, hypertension, muscle gain,                  sedentary, etc.), based on currently accepted protocols.

Section 2: Safety Issues
2.1. Know the fundamentals of injury prevention.

2.2. Determine the appropriate response to emergency situations.

2.3. Demonstrate 
ability to address/manage pre-existing conditions.

2.4. Apply currently accepted industry standards for exercise safety (e.g., ACSM guidelines, etc.).

Section 3: Exercise Science
3.1. Describe primary functions of muscles and joints during specific exercises.

3.2. Describe primary concepts of human physiology at rest and during exercise (e.g., body systems, pathology, etc.).

3.3. Describe basic principles of nutrition and how they relate to general health and exercise programs.

Section 4: Initial and Ongoing Fitness Assessment

4.1. Determine the appropriate test (test protocol), and interpret the results.

4.2. Determine an individual's level of participation in an exercise program based on physician recommendation and/or the presence of risk factors (hypertension, high cholesterol, family history, etc.).

4.3. Determine and establish appropriate health and fitness goals.

Section 5: Special Populations
5.1. Know program modifications for special populations (e.g., older adults, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, obesity, basic orthopedics, youth, and pregnancy, etc.).

Section 6: Communications Skills
6.1. Utilize appropriate communication skills to motivate and coach individuals in their exercise programs (
verbal / non-verbal, open-ended vs. close-ended questioning, cueing, etc.).

Section 7: Professionalism
7.1. Differentiate actions within the Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) scope of practice.

7.2. Know the Personal Fitness Trainer (PFT) Code of Ethics and how to apply it to your practice.

7.3. Recognize legal issues and ramifications as they apply to the personal fitness training profession.