Everybody knows one. A so-called health and fitness professional that is so convincing in their advice that you wouldn’t question whether they had any credentials or not.
Unfortunately, just because someone calls themselves a personal trainer does not necessarily mean they have any formal education. In a previous post titled “Is your trainer really certified?” we highlighted the fact that many gyms will even hire people “off the street” and only require that they get certified in 90 days.
This puts consumers (i.e. you) in an awkward position. You trust that your medical doctor has gone to medical school and it is unlikely that you have ever asked any of them to show proof. With personal trainers it is very much the same way but the times are shifting and consumers are getting smarter about asking about credentials and vetting personal trainers before they trust them with their bodies.
Education, certification and experience a major concern amongst consumers
Every year the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conducts a survey that evaluates what is popular within the fitness industry. This survey, called the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, presents 39 potential fitness items to nearly 3,500 health fitness professionals to see where they score specific areas of the industry.
The important thing to notice is that this was not a survey that was conducted to see what consumers desired most in the fitness industry, these were reflections by fitness professionals that showcased the feedback they were getting from their clients.
Making the cut at number three and maintaining its presence in the top three for the past seven years is the fitness trend identified as educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals. The research communicates that interest in third-party accreditation organizations continues to be on the rise as are educational personal trainer programs at community colleges and universities.
Insights into personal trainer stats draw a correlation between the growing personal training market and the competitiveness of the profession. Not only do personal trainers need to set themselves apart from the pack with additional certifications and education but consumers too are becoming more discerning as to who they give their business to and how their trainers’ experience will translate into results.
Advice to consumers seeking a new personal trainer
Trends aside, the importance of choosing a personal trainer based on certification, experience and education can often mean the difference between mediocre or great results. For example, a trainer with NASMs Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) certification has been educated as to the origins of pain and how to correct it.
A trainer with this focus will likely implement mobility exercises to ensure you build up your flexibility and muscle balance to prevent injuries. At the same time a personal trainer with a CES cert will be able to listen to you about existing injuries and create custom workouts around them while simultaneously taking measures to correct them (where possible).
Beyond the general personal trainer certification, you can seek out trainers with specialized certification from nationally accredited organizations in, for example, areas such as nutrition, performance, weight loss, senior fitness and more.
Bottom line, determine what your goals are and do some research as to the types of trainers that may specialize in the area you are looking to get help with. There are simply too many good trainers out there to waste your time with someone who has no formal education and lacks experience with the specific areas you’d like to work on.
Eddie Lester is the founder of personal trainer education site Fitness Mentors, a former professional surfer and a personal trainer in Manhattan Beach, CA. Certifications: NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS, WLS, MMAS, GFS, YES, SFS