Personal Trainer Certification

Personal trainer certification has never been a better career option. Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to stay healthy. We endure long work days book-ended by lengthy car commutes. By the time we get home, we must tend to a laundry list of responsibilities ranging from parenthood to home ownership. Once typical Americans factor in the time it takes to eat and (when possible) relax, there is not much left in the day to devote to exercise. As a result, many Americans struggle with weight problems. Americans who wish to be proactive, on the other hand, must seek an efficient and effective means to stay healthy despite a busy life and an extremely compressed time schedule. Many Americans, therefore, turn to someone with a Personal Trainer Certification.

  • In recent years, gyms and health clubs have expanded their offerings to cater to busy, health-conscious professionals. No longer just a room full of weight machines and punching bags, the modern fitness center offers a dizzying array of implements and activities to fight the battle of the bulge. Today's health-club patrons can take advantage of high-tech, computerized cardio machines; they can work with gym employees who have Personal Trainer Certification; they can enjoy yoga, kickboxing, and spinning courses; they can rock climb; they can swim; and of course they can unwind in a luxurious sauna.
  • In addition to gyms' increasing sophistication, the fields of exercise science and nutrition are advancing by leaps and bounds. Thanks to a wealth of new knowledge, people with Personal Trainer Certifications are continually changing how we approach exercise and diet. As a result, the optimum method to structure a workout (and deliver nutrition before, during, and after a workout) is vastly different than it was even five years ago.
  • Because of all these advances in exercise science and nutrition, there is a need for skilled professionals to guide people through their workouts and coach people on their overall fitness. The objective is to maximize the health benefit of each workout and minimize the chance of injury, all the while helping to achieve the individual fitness goals of each gym patron. As a result, opportunities in the field of Personal Training are on the rise. Personal Training jobs require specialized skills and coursework. Therefore, if you aspire to become a Personal Trainer, you must seek Personal Trainer Certification before you enter the job market.
  • Because there are many fitness organizations that offer Personal Trainer Certification, the requirements to become a certified Personal Trainer vary. Generally speaking, someone with Personal Trainer Certification will understand anatomy and kinesiology, will be able to conduct a basic fitness assessment, will understand nutrition fundamentals and weight management, and will have skills in exercise programming and wellness programming. People with Personal Trainer Certification are often certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) as well.
Personal Trainer Certification

All things considered, if you are an athletic, health-conscious individual with an engaging personality, good communication skills, and a passion for fitness, becoming a Personal Trainer may be the right move for you. But before you embark on your new career path, it makes sense to research the requirements of the job, including Personal Trainer Certification.

What You Need to Be Successful as a Personal Trainer

It takes a special blend of skills and personal qualities to be an effective and successful personal trainer. In addition to obtaining Personal Trainer Certification, you must have strong ethical standards and a strong awareness. You must be team player. You must possess a detailed knowledge of the human body and good communication skills. You must demonstrate an ability to handle a stressful work environment and difficult clients. Add in a healthy passion for fitness and a genuine enthusiasm for helping people and you'll have the ingredients for a successful career.

Ethics play an important role in practically every facet of a Personal Trainer's work day. This is because the health and well being of your clients is of paramount importance. Caring for your client above all else may make for some difficult decisions in certain situations, especially when it comes to your income. Just bear this in mind: Even if making the right choice will cost you a few dollars in the short term, building a reputation as an honest, ethical Personal Trainer will pay dividends during the course of your career.

The ethical dilemmas a Personal Trainer may encounter are countless, but many pertain to the use of performance-enhancing drugs and/or alcohol. As a Personal Trainer, you should never recommend performance-enhancing drugs or other banned substances. You should never allow a patron to use equipment while under the influence of alcohol--even if that means canceling a training session. Other ethical issues could arise when you are training a child or teenage athlete. In this situation, an overzealous parent dreaming of professional sports stardom could pressure you to design intense, adult-oriented workouts that could damage a child's growing body. In these situations you should always recommend and implement an age-appropriate workout. Lastly, you may encounter a client with special fitness needs outside the scope of your training, Personal Trainer Certification, and/or experience. In these instances, it is best to refer that client to another fitness professional. It is ethically imperative to stay current on your CPR training and continuing education in exercise science.

Effective Personal Trainers must be team players. In situations when you are working with competitive athletes or individuals undergoing physical rehabilitation, your "team" may consist of your client's coaches and/or your client's doctors, not to mention your client himself. You are all working together to achieve a common goal: the improved fitness of your client. Although TV has catapulted a select few Personal Trainers into "rock star" levels of fame and fortune, Personal Training should never be about you. It should always be about the success of your clients. Therefore, your job is to encourage them, to make them feel good about themselves, and to give them all the credit when they reach their fitness goals.

To be a successful Personal Trainer, you must also possess a strong sense of awareness. What does this mean? It means that you must be attuned to the subtle signals your client is giving you as he progresses through a workout routine. You must look for signs of fatigue. You must learn to differentiate someone "feeling the burn" from someone in actual pain. Being aware is especially important with a client who is out of shape, elderly, recovering from an accident, or perhaps has a heart-related medical condition. In all of these situations, you need to be extremely mindful at all times; otherwise, you risk serious injury, or worse, to your client.

A strong knowledge of the human body is essential to becoming a successful Personal Trainer. Knowing how the body responds to an exercise and how it recovers after an exercise is essential to assessing your client's current fitness level and developing an exercise program that is effective and that helps your client reach his or her fitness goals. Understanding anatomy and kinesiology is also crucial to helping your client avoid injury.

Good communication skills are also necessary for a successful Personal Trainer. Why? Exercise science is incredibly sophisticated and will become more so during the course of your career. You will therefore need to communicate increasingly complex principles to your clients in terms they can understand and apply to their workout routine and lifestyle in a meaningful way. In other words, you will not only have to explain in detail how to conduct each exercise in their exercise program properly, you will also need to help them understand why each exercise is important in the context of their overall fitness goals. This knowledge will help them get the most out of their workouts and avoid injury.

Pete, a Chicago-based Personal Trainer who once played professional sports and now owns a gym, agrees. "Generally speaking, a good personal trainer will be able to relate to all his clients," Pete said. "An effective trainer is a good communicator and a better listener. You also have to be personable, otherwise there can be a disconnect."

An added benefit to your personal-training sessions is that they can relieve your clients' stress. But that doesn't mean the job won't at times be stressful for you. As with many careers in our modern world, the ability to handle stress will help make you a more effective Personal Trainer.

As a Personal Trainer, stress can come from a variety of sources. For example, you are responsible for the health and well being of your clients when they are working out. Especially in the case of a client who is out of shape, elderly, recovering from an accident, or perhaps has a heart-related medical condition, it can be stressful monitoring his physical state as he progresses through a workout. On the other end of the spectrum, you might be training a competitive athlete or another type of client who has set very high expectations in terms of muscle and/or performance gain. Maintaining steady progress and avoiding injury while encouraging realistic expectations can be stressful. Lastly, you might encounter a difficult client who is resistant to the exercise program you created and does not take instruction very well. Keeping a cool head will not only reduce your level of stress, but will help you gain the client's trust and cooperation with your instructions.

There are many qualities necessary for an effective Personal Trainer. Before making the choice to pursue a Personal Trainer Certification, give yourself an honest assessment. Do you possess the qualities mentioned above? If so, then you could be on your way to a fulfilling career.

How To Ensure a Successful Long-Term Career as a Personal Trainer

If you possess the qualities and skills necessary to be successful as a personal trainer, congratulations! Once you obtain your Personal Trainer Certification, you will be able to land a fulfilling and exciting job.

How To Ensure a Successful Long-Term Career as a Personal Trainer Staying successful, however, will require constant work, study, financial investment, and a healthy passion for what you do.

Personal Training is constantly evolving. To stay competitive in your field, you must be constantly looking for opportunities to increase your knowledge, improve your skills, and make yourself more attractive to employers.

Robert, a Milwaukee-based trainer who holds a college degree in Physical Education and Health Education, says he is constantly looking for ways to raise his value to his clients. Continually increasing his knowledge of CrossFit and nutrition, for example, helps him stay competitive.

"I believe a good personal trainer is one that constantly is improving his background," Robert said. "I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. There are plenty of different CrossFit certifications that I strive to get. I am going to become more knowledgeable and get certified through CrossFit's Mobility Certification, Endurance Certification, and Kettle Bell Training Certification in the near future, as well as my Level 2 CrossFit Certification."

Pete, a Chicago-based trainer, gym owner, and former professional athlete, agreed. "Additional certifications will always help trainers become better because they are continuing their education," Pete said.

Finding specialties, Robert said, can also help your marketability. "Whatever certifications you may get will make you more knowledgeable in training and helping out specific populations, such as special, the elderly, disabled, etc.," Robert said.

Thinking beyond the workout, Robert added, is also important. "Training is not the only thing that makes a good trainer. Nutrition is the biggest part of getting fit and feeling well," he said. "You have to put the right foods into your body. Constantly reading about proper nutrition and different diets is important to me. You can always help your clients with healthy snacks and recipes, and that is another thing I try to do."

Pete and Robert agreed that the final ingredient to a successful career as a Personal Trainer is passion. "I would stress becoming specialized in something that you are passionate about, not just to become certified," Pete said.

"I will continue to get different CrossFit Certifications because I have found a new love in CrossFit and think it is the best way to get in the best overall shape," Robert said.

Interesting Facts About the Personal Trainer Profession

Although the profession of personal training is relatively new, the concept of physical fitness has been around for ages. For example, it's been suggested (based on pictures drawn on ancient tombs) that crude forms of weightlifting were practiced in 2500 B.C. Historians believe that weight training grew more sophisticated in ancient China and Greece. Some literature even alludes to Hercules having a weightlifting coach named Chiron (perhaps the world's first personal trainer?). The Romans are said to have developed the first formal weight-training program to strengthen their armies. In European countries such as France and Germany, historians suggest that weight-training classes started popping up in university curriculum as early as the 1500s.

The fitness industry as we know it, however, didn't really develop until the 20th century. Jack LaLanne, who lived to be 96 years old and was physically active for his entire life, is largely credited for kick-starting the modern fitness industry.

Inspired as a teenager by a nutritional speaker, LaLanne went on in 1936 to open a gym, juice bar, and health-food store (considered the prototype for the modern health club). LaLanne eventually developed a chain of health clubs and sold his health club business to Bally Entertainment Corporation. This evolved into what is now known as Bally Total Fitness. By some estimates, there are now 29,000 health clubs in the United States.

LaLanne eventually turned his fitness efforts to television. The Jack LaLanne Show debuted in 1951, was broadcast nationally in 1959, aired into the 1980s, and educated generations of viewers to the benefits of physical fitness. During his lifetime, LaLanne is credited with developing the pulley-based weight machines seen in practically every gym coast to coast.

Also during the early and mid-20th century, the German-born Joseph Pilates developed the exercise method bearing his name. Today, sources estimate that there are 11 million Americans practicing Pilates, and more than 14,000 professional Pilates instructors.

Other notable figures in 20th-century fitness are Jim Fixx, who in 1977 authored The Complete Book of Running, which is credited with popularizing jogging as an exercise. Joe Weider was a pivotal figure in the popularity of bodybuilding. Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, and Billy Blanks, meanwhile, are among the numerous personalities to help popularize fitness through television or instructional videos.

Today, a new generation of fitness experts is using reality television to inspire Americans to be healthy. At the forefront of this movement are trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, stars of the NBC show, The Biggest Loser.

What new directions will the fitness industry take in the future? Armed with your Personal Trainer Certification, the future may be in your hands.

Last Updated: 05/13/2014

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