Fitness and Nutrition Online Certificate Courses | Penn Foster Career School

Fitness and Nutrition Certificate

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Online Program Overview

Penn Foster Career School’s Fitness and Nutrition certificate program covers the fundamentals of the fitness and nutrition field—from creating targeted fitness routines and mastering flexibility training to planning healthy menus and developing effective weight-loss strategies. In this online program, you can take the first steps toward your new career as a fitness trainer as you learn how to help your clients build muscle, lose weight and maximize flexibility. And our online nutrition courses will help you prepare to maximize clients’ health in the kitchen, with curriculum that focuses on developing healthy eating habits and understanding how macronutrients affect the body.

Once you’ve completed your Fitness and Nutrition online certificate program, you can take the first step toward a better or new career in the fitness training and nutrition industry. If you’re the entrepreneurial type, you can even start your own business as a fitness-nutrition specialist and work for yourself.

In Penn Foster College's Fitness and Nutrition certificate program, you can study at home or on the go to earn an education that fits your life. And with supportive instructors and helpful staff members, you can complete this program in as little as two months.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

This certificate is designed to teach students the fundamentals of the fitness and nutrition field—from healthy menu planning and weight-loss strategies to targeted fitness routines and flexibility training.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Understand how fitness affects physical and mental well-being, assess current fitness, plan goals, and recognize opportunities in the fitness field
  • Understand how medical terms build meaning by combining word parts, with a focus on exercise science terminology
  • Identify major organs and their functions within each system
  • Understand how nutrients fit into a healthy eating plan, and distinguish the ingredients needed to prepare healthy and specialized menus
  • Identify muscle structures and their roles in movement, and understand the physiology of muscle contraction and the importance of attaining good posture
  • Recognize the structures of the pulmonary circuit and understand the design of cardiorespiratory exercise programs
  • Understand the benefits and safety concerns of resistance training, and identify exercise routines for functional training
  • Identify the structures of the upper and lower body, and identify programs and exercises to enhance upper- and lower-body fitness
  • Recognize the benefits of increased flexibility, ascertain the components of safe training, and know how to minimize stress
  • Understand how to determine short- and long-term fitness goals, design programs, track progress, and promote lifetime fitness
  • Identify common risks and signs of disease, know how to obtain and use screening data, and understand how to supply exercise information for people with health conditions
  • Recognize how to keep clients motivated and avoid liability issues

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Managing Personal Health

Feel good, both physically and mentally, by managing your personal health.


  • Describe the basic components of a fitness plan.
  • Identify and handle stress.
  • Shop for and choose healthy foods.
  • Set fitness goals and choose exercise plans that fit your lifestyle.
  • Identify careers in the fitness and nutrition industry.

Unit 2

Medical Terminology

You need strong medical vocabulary skills to succeed in your career.


  • Break medical terms down to understand their meaning.
  • Describe the rules of medical terminology.
Exercise Science Terminology

To conduct exercise classes, plan fitness programs, and become an effective personal trainer, you need to be comfortable using the language of the fitness industry.


  • Use exercise science terminology fluently.
  • Understand how fitness training and exercise routines affect the body and specific muscles.
Fitness Anatomy and Physiology 1

This lesson is the first part of Fitness Anatomy and Physiology.


  • Describe the overall function of and major structures within the digestive, urinary, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems.
Fitness Anatomy and Physiology 2

This lesson is the second part of Fitness Anatomy and Physiology.


  • Describe the overall function of the endocrine, circulatory, and respiratory systems.
Additional Unit Materials

Online Resources:

  • Calculate fitness level based on a one-mile-walk test
  • Determine one’s target heart rate
  • Detection, Management, and Treatment of high blood pressure

Unit 3

Nutrition Basics

Some nutritional needs are the same over a lifespan, others vary over time.


  • Describe nutritional needs for all ages.
  • Identify nutrition for infants to ensure adequate physical and mental growth and development.
  • Identify nutrition for seniors to maintain strong bones and physical and mental acuity.
Developing Healthy Eating Habits

Fitness professionals are expected to know enough about nutrition to recommend healthy recipes and menus.


  • Compose a list of healthy ingredients and recipes.
  • Offer healthy-eating demos.
Muscles in Motion

Physiology—how systems function and act—and kinesiology—how mechanics and anatomy relate to movement—will be presented, providing you with fuller insight into motion and movement.


  • Describe how muscles, bones, joints, and other body structures unite to get you moving.
Posture, Balance, and Proper Alignment

Proper posture and balance are important to physical health.


  • Understand the importance of posture and balance and current theories on achieving correct posture and balance.
  • Assess posture and identify exercises that will assist in attaining the best posture and balance possible.
  • Describe how poor posture can lead to bodily pain, injury, and reduced quality of life.
Additional Unit Materials

Online Resources:

  • USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP)
  • Berkeley Wellness Letter
  • Aetna InteliHealth
  • National Cancer Institute
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Dietetic Association
  • American Heart Association
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) Healthfinder
  • International Food Information Council
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Quackwatch
  • Food and Health Communications
  • BMI calculators and charts
  • Healthy Menu Planning

Unit 4

Understanding the Heart and Lungs

Cardiorespiratory fitness can be measured by assessing the heart’s ability to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body to the working muscles during exercise, as well as by the efficiency with which the muscles use oxygen to produce energy.


  • Describe cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
  • Understand the cardiovascular benefits of exercise.

Additional Lesson Material:

  • Online resources: links to The American Heart Association; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the American Red Cross; the American Academy of Family Physicians; the American Dietetic Association; and the American Lung Association.
Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability to maintain high-endurance aerobic exercises, such as cycling, swimming, and running, for a prolonged period of time, without the early onset of performance-inhibiting fatigue.


  • List general principles of cardiorespiratory exercise.
  • Describe the physical and psychological benefits of cardiorespiratory fitness.
Principles of Muscular Strength and Endurance

Strength training, also called weight training and resistance training, is an important tool for achieving a complete healthy body. Strength training isn’t just for athletes; anyone who wants to build or tone muscle can use strength training to achieve a fitter body.


  • Describe the advantages of incorporating strength training into a fitness program.
  • Be familiar with traditional strength-training workouts.
  • Identify safety factors that need to be addressed with strength training.
Strengthening the Core

Strengthening the core can generate tremendous benefits and is the one area of the body that will always give you a great return on your fitness investment.


  • Describe the function and importance of the core.
  • Get the core in great shape.
Strengthening the Core

Online Resources:

  • The American Heart Association
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • American Red Cross
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Dietetic Association
  • American Lung Association

Unit 5

Strengthening the Upper Body

Often, the upper body is the first part of the body to show wear and tear from the stresses and strains of daily life. As posture deteriorates, the heart and lungs become physically strained.


  • Understand the importance of upper-body exercises for maintaining proper posture, aligning the spine, and maintaining joint positioning.
  • Strengthen the neck, shoulders, arms, and torso.
  • Describe how upper-body fitness contributes to the performance of daily activities and exercise programs.
  • Achieve and maintain a fit upper body.
Strengthening the Lower Body

A powerful lower body is essential to a strong and balanced physical foundation.


  • Strengthen the thighs, lower back, lower abdominals, buttocks, and calves.
Flexibility Training

Everyone needs some flexibility to function in everyday life.


  • Understand the importance of flexibility.
  • Describe how to stretch without injury.
Preventing Injury

Participation in any fitness activity presents some risk of injury. Fitness professionals should do everything possible to ensure that their clients are exercising safely.


  • Identify and prevent common fitness injuries.
Stress Management Techniques

This lesson teaches you how to apply stress-reducing techniques to tense situation.


  • Describe how stress affects people physically and mentally.
  • Use techniques to handle stress.

Unit 6

Personal Fitness Programs

Exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction must be practiced over a lifetime to maintain fitness.


  • Demonstrate strong personal commitment to fitness.
  • Establish fitness goals for yourself and your clients.
  • Design, monitor, and maintain fitness programs appropriate to clients’ needs.
Fitness Programs for the General Population

Combine your knowledge of fitness, exercise, stress reduction, and good nutrition.


  • Describe fitness programs for the general population.
Health Screening, Testing, and Evaluation

Fitness professionals know how to design exercise routines so their clients not only look and feel better but actually achieve better overall health through improved mental and physical function.


  • Assess one’s current health and fitness status.
  • Identify the team members who may be involved in the assessment process.
Preparing for Special Situations

Everyone who can exercise should exercise.


  • Determine what exercises clients should do to maintain a maximum level of fitness throughout their lives.

Unit 7

Leadership Skills

You now know the nuts and bolts of designing fitness programs and interacting with your clients and students. This course is designed to help you become a fitness leader.


  • Motivate and inspire clients to exercise.
Legal and Ethical Issues

A number of legal and ethical issues apply to sports and the fitness industry.


  • Identify some of the issues, challenges, and legal and ethical responsibilities involved in being a fitness professional.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a sample lesson from our Fitness and Nutrition courses, click here.

Fitness and Nutrition Program Details

Penn Foster Career School can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to get started on your career path as a fitness trainer. Our Fitness and Nutrition courses cover topics like:

Start working toward your career in the fitness industry today. Contact Penn Foster College to learn more about our Fitness and Nutrition certificate program.

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

fitness nutrition certification program online

You can improve your fitness and nutrition knowledge to help advance your career or for better personal and family health, with a focus on healthy menu planning, weight-loss strategies, fitness routines, and flexibility training. Here are a few qualities that effective fitness and nutrition practitioners have in common:

  • Organized: Keep nutrition and exercise plans on schedule.
  • Healthy: You are conscious of healthy eating and living habits for yourself and your loved ones.
  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.

This program has helped me to better my own fitness level and be able to work with others. I love to work with children and the elderly, and this program helped me to design fitness programs for all levels of fitness. Thanks Penn Foster! I loved the ability to work at my own pace and the cost and payment plan was very affordable. Coursework was easy to follow, and instructors were helpful and informative.

- Kathy W., Fitness and Nutrition Student

My overall experience with Penn Foster was great. You are allowed to go at your own speed, and the school gives encouragement to keep you going. I would recommend Penn Foster.

- James R., Penn Foster Graduate

Penn Foster is a great school with amazing people who always help and work with you through ANY situation. I experienced a fire in my home, and Penn Foster was there for me to cope through the situation. Thank you, and I will be doing another program soon.

- Claudia D., Penn Foster Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Learning aids
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Fitness and Nutrition Certificate academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Does the Fitness and Nutrition Certificate Program provide any industry certification upon completion?

There is no certification with the Fitness and Nutrition Certificate. Penn Foster Career School’s certificate programs are generally geared toward people who already work in that field and do not always offer certification. If certification is offered with a program, it will be listed on the Program Overview page on our website. Certification is generally given out by the state governing body for a career field.

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