Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

July 2021

ACE Launches Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Course for Exercise Pros

The American Council on Exercise recently announced a first-of-its-kind course on how exercise professionals and health coaches can help build a more inclusive fitness industry. The course, "Taking Action With ACE: Practicing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as an Exercise Professional," is the first step on a journey to ensure all physical activity participants have equal access and feel welcome in every environment.

The course aims to equip exercise professionals and health coaches to support diverse communities, use an inviting environment to boost client engagement and retention and be better advocates for the fitness industry.

"For too long, inclusion just hasn't been a priority of the fitness industry," said ACE CEO Scott Goudeseune. "This course will help exercise professionals and health coaches provide effective services to communities that have felt left out of health and fitness spaces."

ACE collaborated with Jessica Jackson, MBA, M.Ed., instructional designer and racial equity strategist at TorranceLearning, and subject matter experts in equity, diversity and inclusion to produce the courses six modules. Upon completion of Taking Action With ACE, which is free for ACE Certified Professionals, health and exercise professionals will be able to:

  • Consider how social determinants of health and health disparities affect access to health and fitness resources.
  • Mitigate implicit bias in interactions with diverse peers, clients and members.
  • Strengthen communication with people from diverse backgrounds using person-centered language.
  • Demonstrate empathy and understanding as a health coach and exercise professional.

"In order to make meaningful change of systemic inequities, we need to ensure everyone has equitable access to health and fitness resources," said ACE President and Chief Science Officer Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. "There are clear data about the health disparities among populations who are medically underserved. We hope this new course works toward ensuring all communities have the support they need to live healthy, balanced lives."

Why is such a course necessary? Here are some facts:

  • Only 25% of U.S. adults and 20% of high school students fully meet physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Physical activity levels are influenced by cultural values. In most countries, girls, women, older adults, underprivileged groups, and people with disabilities and chronic diseases all have fewer opportunities to access safe, affordable and appropriate programs and places to be physically active.
  • Predominantly Black populated areas are less likely to have a gym and recreation center, and people in those areas are 51% more likely to be "obese" compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • The majority of Black people in America don't have access to quality health- and fitness-related resources.
  • Gay, lesbian and bisexual-identifying adults can be 12% less likely to be in excellent or very good health compared to their straight peers.

"The fitness industry is just beginning the work of addressing its inequities," Goudeseune said. "To that end, ACE aims for one-fifth of exercise professionals and health coaches to take this course within its first year of availability."

Learn more at

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