Become a Certified Personal Trainer
A personal trainer helping someone workout.

Personal Trainer Certification

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the United States Government, the demand for personal trainers is increasing rapidly at 13% per year. The average pay is $39,000 annually and you do not need a college degree to earn a certification.

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Right now, society is driven by the health and fitness industry, so there is more focus than ever on eating right and exercising to improve one’s health. As people seek out personal trainers to help them achieve their fitness goals, the need for certified trainers is increasing.

What is a Personal Trainer?

First off, a personal trainer is a certified individual who teaches individuals or groups about exercises appropriate for their fitness level. According to personaltraineredu.org, personal trainers are “part-coach, part-mentor, part-friend and even part-drill instructor as needed.” As a trainer, their singular goal is to manage an individual’s fitness program in a gym or private setting.

Secondly, the role of personal trainers is universal. They are to help people learn about and sustain a healthy lifestyle, educate clients about physical exercise and help then in making healthy changes. They are also there to help clients reach their health and wellness goals

Steps to Becoming a Personal Trainer

When deciding to become a personal trainer, there are many roads to follow. However, there are some basic steps before you begin a formal training program:

  • Ensure your own physical health is optimal
  • Also, be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • You must be dedicated to your profession and your clients

At minimum, personal trainers must learn the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology, exercise science and nutrition
  • Assessment and screening of clients
  • How to design health and wellness programs tailored to a client's specific goal
  • Must be able to lead safe and effective fitness programs
  • A thorough understanding of cardiovascular exercises, flexibility and resistance exercises

These are all parts of the courses and programs offered for those pursuing a certification for personal training.

Course, Program and Certificate Options

In recent years, new degrees at the associates and bachelor’s level have been established at reputable colleges and universities. You may pursue a degree program in exercise science, health and fitness management, exercise physiology and physical education.

Also, a degree program for personal training must include a comprehensive framework in personal training skills and concepts. The coursework often includes the following:

  • Kinesiology
  • Conditioning
  • Motor development
  • Anatomy and physiology

Furthermore, a lot of degree programs also include coursework in business and management, giving you the opportunity to pursue management positions at fitness centers or even run your own training business.

Here are some of the most high profile professional certifications for personal trainers (as provided by personaltraineredu.org) include the following:

These are all excellent options if you are pursuing a certification to become a personal trainer.

Career Options

Once you have completed your training, what do you do next? Well, you could simply find a nearby fitness center that needs personal trainers and start building your resume. Here are some other routes that many new trainers take:

  • Health clubs
  • Gyms
  • Recreational centers
  • Country Clubs
  • Boutique studios
  • Hospitals
  • Spas and resorts
  • Client’s home
  • Universities
  • Yoga and Pilates studios
  • Gyms within corporate campuses

As you can see, these used to be the only options available for personal trainers, but things have definitely changed. There are whole new markets out there for personal trainers that you may not have considered.

You may choose to specialize your personal training business with designated groups:

  • Women (prenatal and post-natal exercise)
  • Seniors
  • Athletes
  • Dancers
  • Kids

Another option is to focus your personal training business on a fitness specialty:

  • Water exercise
  • Rehabilitative training
  • Circuit training
  • High intensity training
  • Boot camp training
  • Cycling
  • Sports conditioning

Regardless of your career path, every personal trainer must complete certain requirements.

First Aid Training

Because personal trainers deal with people of all shapes and sizes, it is essential that they are certified in first aid, CPR and know how to use an AED (a portable defibrillator). Certified personal trainers can receive training in these at local Red Cross centers or through private education.

Why Certification is Important

Do you want to be a trainer but not spend the money to be certified by one of the programs listed above? While someone who has been a gym rat for years may be able to give good, general advice about working out, they may not have the necessary education in nutrition, anatomy and physiology to give clients a specific workout routine.

Trainers who are not certified also may not be educated in the use of first aid, CPR or an AED. If a trainer who is not certified puts themselves in a position where they are working with someone and he or she gets injured or falls ill, they may not know how to help the client. The bottom line is that it is always best to be a certified personal trainer.

In Conclusion

Certified personal trainers can have a great career helping people reach their fitness and lifestyle goals. While the programs to become certified can be expensive, it is better to invest in certification than winging it and possibly hurting someone.

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