As someone who has been a personal trainer in the fitness industry for more than 15 years, I value all of my education and experience. However, I still never feel like I know everything.
I am still constantly researching new techniques, attending seminars and learning from others to stay on top of my game. The fitness industry is ever-changing, always advancing with new theories, trends, and diets (some controversial and some not). It’s so important as a fitness professional to always “keep your ear to the streets” (as I like to say!).
I personally completed my Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a major in Athletic Therapy. After graduation, I completed the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification through the NSCA. This was my selection as I felt this was one of the top certifications related to the field I initially wanted to get into (working with athletes). As I went further into my career, I began to realize my weaknesses and strengths as a coach and picked certifications education based on what would make me a better coach.
Here is a list of some of the certifications I received in the first few years of my career:
- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA)
- Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM)
- Certified Level 1 Nutrition Coach (Precision Nutrition)
- Club Coach Olympic Weightlifting Technical Level 1 (NCCP)
- Kettlebell Workshop Level 1 (Mahler’s Aggressive Strength)
- Training for Warriors Certification Level 1 (Martin Rooney – Training for Warriors)
One thing to remember as a coach: it’s not having the most certifications that makes you the best coach, it’s how you put this knowledge to work. Over the last 15 years in my career I have also continued to attend weekend seminars and fitness conferences to stay on top of the latest research and theories, but also to network with others in the industry.
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Which certification is the best?
Do your own research and choose certifications that serve you and your goals. I understand that not everyone has the ability to go to university and get a four-year degree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be successful and educated in the industry.
I suggest you take a look at all the top personal training certifications (NASM, ACE, CANFit Pro, NSCA, BCRPA) and see what each of these certifications will cover and how that education will help you in your career. I personally don’t know enough about each certification to make a recommendation on which is the best, as again, it will be important to think about the specific niche or clientele you plan on working with. With that being said the internet and books should be your best friend when you are new in the game. There are so many amazing books and legit websites (always check sources!) that can provide you with so much information. Whether it is building your business or becoming a better coach there is so much information out there for you. Invest in yourself and master your craft by spending a few hours each week learning more!
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One thing to keep an eye our for is fitness trends. It’s possible you’ll hear about trending fads or new diets and my a best advice is don’t just hop on trends because they are trends. Be analytical! Use your education and experience working with clients to determine if you think a new trendy workout, piece of equipment, or diet would work for your clients before either recommending it to your clients or hating on it. Research research research! As you grow in your career, you will begin to build your own little toolbox of techniques and theories and although I am open to new ideas, I very rarely stray from my ways. Main example, don’t make your clients do it just because it’s cool on social media!
I hope this helps you get started as a young personal trainer (or soon to be) in the game. My personal opinion is don’t think of it as a job, think of it as a career and just remember the more education and experience you can get, the better you will be in your career long term.