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Five years after the introduction of the AFP credential, an AFAA Fitness Practitioner[R] speaks about the career realities of integrating fitness and health care.

In 1993, AFAA was the first fitness organization to bridge the gap between fitness and health care with the introduction of the AFAA Fitness Practitioner[R] Certification. Since that time, over 1,000 candidates have been accepted into the AFP program, seeking the credential that will place them at the top of the fitness industry.

The AFAA Fitness Practitioner Certification program was developed in response to the growing body of evidence supporting the health benefits of regular exercise in preventing a wide variety of chronic diseases. It is estimated the American public spends over $40 billion yearly on medical care for conditions associated with physical inactivity. As these health care costs escalate, health professionals and the general population recognize the need for individuals to accept responsibility for their own health, including the willingness to alter lifestyle and enhance wellness. The AFAA Fitness Practitioner is a degreed professional qualified to assist in the establishment and maintenance of such changes, particularly fitness assessment, programming, nutritional education and one-on-one training, often working as a team member with other allied health care professionals.

To better understand the evolution of this new career path and the future potential for the AFAA Fitness Practitioner in the health care industry, AFP program director Kelli Yudell interviewed Debi Codute, R.N., B.S.B.A., who was among the first graduates from the AFP program.

What is your professional background?

I am a registered nurse with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration degree. I am also involved in national pharmaceutical sales and marketing direction in managed care, as well as being the president of the Network of Wellness Design and Management consulting company (NWDM).

Why did you decide to become an AFAA Fitness Practitioner?

I am a degreed professional dedicated to providing wellness education and consultation to various health care professionals in managed care organizations. With lifestyle modification and exercise pushing to the forefront of disease management, it became necessary to expand my fitness knowledge in order to understand the best applications for fitness assessment, counseling and training practices.

How has the AFP certification advanced your career?

Becoming an AFP has changed my career dramatically. Because of the in-depth fitness and wellness knowledge I obtained, I now consult for several Fortune 500 companies, offering my services as a mid-level fitness professional to incorporate lifestyle modifications according to appropriate physical assessment, construct proper exercise programs in accordance with standardized guidelines and handle professional communication with proper medical terminology.

Was the AFP program difficult?

The AFP program is comprehensive, but the one-on-one telephone consultation makes it easier by personalizing your entire study curriculum. It allows hands-on practice and experience while you receive direct counseling and immediate personal feedback from the home study programs. The format nurtures the confidence and self-assurance necessary for fitness training, counseling and consulting services.

What skills did you gain as a result of the AFP certification process?

The AFP emerges from the program completely competent in providing comprehensive fitness assessments, individualized exercise programming for special populations, and has an understanding of medical terminology necessary for appropriate professional communication and referrals for individual clients and their health care providers.

How do you feel the AFP program differs from other programs offered in the field?

The AFP program was set up by AFAA, which has more years of program experience and expertise than any other organization. It was the first and is still the best, offering a well-planned and comprehensive curriculum with diversity and flexibility for population specialization. However, for all its thoroughness, the program is concise and designed for time efficiency.

Having completed the program, if you had to decide again, would you undertake the AFP certification?

Absolutely. My job opportunities are endless because of the AFP certification. I have confidence in my knowledge of fitness, wellness and exercise programming that would have probably taken me five years to obtain elsewhere.


The AFP Certification is the most widely recognized credential for highly skilled fitness professionals in today's health care industry. The rigorous study course is usually completed over a two-year time period. Beginning in 1999, the Fitness Practitioner Certification Challenge Exam will allow eligible candidates to complete the AFP program at an accelerated pace through successful completion of a comprehensive theoretical and practical exam, in addition to fulfilling a core curriculum. The examination and the core curriculum encompass all areas covered by the original Fitness Practitioner program requirements. Candidates not wishing to participate in the Challenge Exam option may continue completion of the AFP Certification under existing program requirements.

Eligibility requirements to sit for the AFP Certification Challenge Exam include:
   * a four-year degree in health or fitness, or

   * a four-year college degree in any field and a completed university
   certificate program in health or fitness, or

   * a four-year college degree in any field and five or more years experience
   in that field as a certified professional.

Once you're approved, to sit for the AFP Challenge Exam, the following additional certification requirements must be met:
   * Current CPR and First Aid Certification

   * Completion of the following mandatory Home Study Courses:

      1) Fitness Triage: Business Strategies, Client Programming and Fitness
      Gets Personal

      2) Exercise Management/Chronic Diseases and Disabilities

      3) Health Care Essentials

   * Elective Home Study courses (choose four):

      Exercise and Obesity Youth Fitness Eating Disorders Prenatal Fitness
      Aqua Fitness Senior Fitness Stress Management

   * Twenty hours of internship with a licensed or registered allied health
   care professional in a clinical setting

   * Completion of the thesis case studies

The first sitting of the Exam will be held at APEX '99 in 14 cities across the United States on Saturday, February 13, 1999. To inquire about your eligibility, call the AFP program counselor at (800) 446-2322, ext. 231.
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Author:Yudell, Kelli; West, Marti
Publication:American Fitness
Date:Nov 1, 1998
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