Did you know that currently ZERO states require personal trainers or fitness instructors to have a license? Did you know that you need a license to cut hair or do nails (non-living tissue) yet anyone can simply call his or herself a 'fitness expert' and begin dispensing advice that could potentially be deadly? On this Quick Fit Tip of All About Fitness I explain the fitness certification process and why you should only work with instructors that have earned an accredited certification or have a college degree. As someone who currently does freelance work for two of the largest fitness certification organizations and teaches personal training courses in college (ok, junior college, but still) I offer unique insight and background into the process and why you should only be working with certified fitness professionals.
For 15 years I've been educating personal trainers and fitness instructors around the world to help them earn and maintain their professional certifications.
Back in the early 2000s the fitness industry agreed to an accreditation standard for fitness certifications (the National Commission for Certifying Agencies - NCCA run by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence - ICE). Since then health clubs have been advised to hire personal trainers and instructors with a certification accredited by the NCCA but this is only a suggestion and NOT a legal requirement.
Some health clubs have rigorous standards for hiring personal trainers and fitness instructors and offer extensive continuing education to ensure they are delivering the highest level of service possible. However at other health clubs trainers and instructors are often hired based purely on their appearance and are allowed to teach or train without having any existing credentials.
Why does this matter? Exercise is physical stress applied to the body, when done correctly it can impose the desired adaptations such as weight loss, muscle growth or improved definition. However, if an exercise program is too intense or too technically challenging at best it could cause an injury and at worst it could be fatal. On this episode I explain the education and certification process and tell you what you should be looking for when seeking the services of a trainer or fitness instructor. As one of my favorite quotes says: 'Now you know and knowing is half the battle.'*
Here are the largest (and most popular) certification organizations - in alphabetical order. Each one provides information on the certification process and has search engines to help you to find certified professionals in your area:
American College of Sports Medicine
American Council on Exercise
National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Strength and Conditioning Association
REPS - Registry of Exercise Professionals - You can check here to see if your trainer or instructor has an accredited certification.
*Tweet me the source of this quote and you could win a free All About Fitness T-shirt!