American Council on Exercise


ACE Behavior Change Specialist Program


To change a life, first change the lifestyle 
Human beings are capable of incredible transformations. We can learn, grow and alter the trajectory of our lives. We can become stronger and improve our health?but it doesn?t come easy. With the right coaching approach and strategy, positive habits can be built to make a lifelong impact on health and wellbeing. As an ACE Behavior Change Specialist, you will help your clients discover their own paths to a healthy, happy lifestyle.
The ACE Behavior Change Specialist Program will teach you the key tools to promoting behavior change and creating a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. You will learn how to help clients of all backgrounds recognize counterproductive behaviors and coach them to discover new methods to move more, eat better and make healthier decisions for themselves and their families. 
The program is led by a panel of prominent, behavior change experts:
Robert Biswas-Diener, renowned positive psychology expert
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Obesity
Billie Frances, MA, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Guiding Mindful Change
B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University and founder of the Tiny Habits® program
Dan Goleman, author of The New York Times best-selling books, Emotional Intelligence and Focus
William R. Miller, one of the founders of motivational interviewing

Become the coach your clients need
Any fitness, healthcare or allied health professional who wants to effectively guide their clients to their goals will benefit from this specialization. You will gain crucial communication skills to foster effective client-coach relationships and will learn cognitive behavioral coaching to help your clients reach their potential. Upon completion of the program, you will own critical skills that will elevate your profile as a fitness or health professional.
What?s in the curriculum?
This program will help you familiarize yourself with common obstacles to achieving healthy behavior change and teach you how to help clients find their own path to a more fulfilling lifestyle. You will learn strategies, such as motivational interviewing and setting SMART goals, to help clients increase energy, prevent disease and develop healthier habits.
In addition to the Coaching Behavior Change manual, podcasts and videos, this program includes a virtual coaching session with live feedback from an ACE Master Coach. This face-to-face experience ensures you have a deep understanding of the strategies and techniques covered in the curriculum.
How do I become an ACE Behavior Change Specialist?
To become an ACE Behavior Change Specialist, you must complete seven sections of curriculum and pass an online quiz after the first five sections. After the final section, you must participate in a practical coaching session and demonstrate sufficient skills to an ACE Master Coach in each of the four competency groups.
Anyone may complete the ACE Behavior Change Specialist Program, but only those who also hold a current NCCA-accredited certification or equivalent professional credential will be recognized as an ACE Specialist.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, participants will:

Learn the fundamentals of coaching, defined as the art of communication with individuals or groups to help them achieve a goal

Discover how to establish a client-coach relationship and coaching plan

Increase competency in emotional intelligence

Acquire skills in structuring a coaching program

Learn to approach coaching from a strengths-based perspective

Learn how to help identify a current stage of change, employ techniques to help continue progress, and help clients and patients recognize whether and how a change should occur

Learn about cognitive behavioral coaching, identifying strengths and barriers, and how the ACE Behavior Change Specialist can guide all types of clients to establish attainable goals

Lead clients and patients through the execution stage of change

Learn how to develop strong plans through brainstorming, effective accountability techniques and how to respectfully and appropriately respond to reluctance

Explore how to use adult learning techniques to fill knowledge gaps and how to evaluate plans

Prepare to successfully apply the fundamental coaching principles to any number of diverse work settings

Receive live feedback from an ACE Master Coach on their individual coaching skills in a virtual setting


LLP Category:

Course - Online / Distance

Suitable For:

Personal Trainer (EQF L4)

Learning Type:

LLP Category 1

Learning Hours:




Each chapter of the course is followed by a quiz to assess learning. Successful completion of each chapter is indicated by a passing grade of 70% or better on each quiz. Quiz attempts may be repeated until passed. Once all quizzes are successfully completed, a live skills test with an ACE Master Coach is required. In this live virtual coaching experience, all aspiring Behavior Change Specialists will have the opportunity to demonstrate individual coaching skills and receive live feedback from an ACE Master Coach based on the International Coach Federation core competencies.
During the Practical Skills Experience you will be assessed on the four groups of core competencies. In order to be successful with the practical you must show good skills within each of the competency groups. Refer to the ACE Behavior Change Practical Competency Grid for a detailed breakdown. The ACE Master Coach will provide feedback for each competency group. If the ACE Master Coach determines that you need to participate in a second practical session to further advance your skills, please schedule yourself into another Practical Skills Experience (free of charge).


Web based 'online' learning