Is it important for a trainer to be certified? This seems to be a hot topic these days with the growth of the fitness industry and all the different training methodologies and varying standards to meet those methodologies. I will be the first to say that the certification doesn’t make the trainer and the trainer is not representative of the certification. I have seen great trainers with certifications that I have never heard of, and I have seen bad trainers with the best certifications out there. However, I feel that it is of the upmost importance that a person who trains another to be certified!
A certification will teach the basics of human anatomy, function, physiology, program design and methodology. It won’t make a trainer all knowing, but it will lay a sound foundation that will give them guidance on providing their clients with safe and effective programs. Without this foundation, where would they get this information? Well any combination of their own personal workout history, workout videos, fitness magazine, youtube videos etc is where. Quite frankly, I don’t trust any of these as sound foundational sources. So, basically, these “trainers” are using broscience or what I call “the sexy”. “The sexy” pertains to all of those exercises that look really cool and exciting to do, and have their place with a particular person in a particular situation, but most people have no business doing. Most of the time this is a conditioning based program where the only goal seems to be how hard you can push your client until they throw up. Well, I can make anybody throw up in 5 minutes if I wanted to. The only thing that gets accomplished with this mentality is that a person threw up. Congrats! Nothing was accomplished. No goals were met and in fact that persons goals have been pushed farther away.
So from just having basic knowledge of how to properly train a client is more than enough reason to require a certification for someone to train another person. Equally important it shows that the person is serious about their profession. Personal trainers are professionals. Would you go to a guy that took one accounting class in college to do your taxes? Probably not. Then why go to a guy that lifted in college to train you. Yes there is some knowledge there, but not enough to do something very specific for a specific goal. Taking that step to get certified shows that a person is committing themselves to a profession, committing themselves to better serve their clients.
This commitment is what will determine if the trainer will be a good one or not. But this commitment, this initial skin in the game, is just the beginning of a good trainer. It is how they perpetuate their commitment is what will make them great. All certifications require a certain level of continuing education to maintain the certification. This continuing education will help the trainer learn the latest in research and training techniques. It keeps them on top of their game. The certification requires this.
Those who go beyond this base level of continuing education are usually the better trainers as you would expect of anyone going beyond the minimum. Those who hone their skills by gaining other certifications/specializations, going to industry conferences, entering into mentorship programs, and studying reputable and researched based literature are the trainers that will make an impact on this world. So to say it is important to have a certification to train someone is quite the understatement!