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If you were thinking about becoming a personal trainer, or some other similar type of fitness professional, what certification(s) do you think would be best?

By best, I mean highly regarded and offering the best chance of employment.

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Here we go....

I started out in what I guess you'd call formal fitness education in Oct. 2003 with my SPINNING cert. Purely for my own information. Over the time I'd been taking classes, I had experience with a number of instructors who all came out with different stuff (some of which I knew to be hogwash just from basic physiology and my own training) so I decided to see what was what. Wasn't contemplating ever teaching but at the end of the training workshop, the group fitness director at the gym where it was held came up to me and asked if I could sub 4weeks of classes. I meant to decline but got confused;-)

A few weeks after I got that cert, all manner of promotional stuff started arriving..... including an ad for an AFAA cert at greatly reduced cost. Looked like fun and it also included a weekend training workshop so I did it.... just to see what was what.

A few months (and a few subbing gigs) later, I was invited to audition for a SPINNING instructor spot with NYSC. I went not expecting much (see my vast resume of teaching experience!) but got a gig....for real. That wouldn't have happened without the AFAA cert. At the time, NYSC had a strong commitment to trainer education.... mentorship, free training workshops and heavy subsidy for their preferred certification NASM. So I did that...... just to see what was what.

These two certs....AFAA and NASM have since merged and, although I picked up a few things not available elsewhere, I wouldn't necessarily recommend these if you're aiming for just one.

When it came time to renew my NASM cert, I found that most of the continuing ed I'd done wasn't recognised...... they tended to want their own courses. So I took a look at ACE (daughter's PT cert) liked what I saw from both quality of content and layout so did ACE group ex. This I've kept current.

Because I started to branch out into more weight training instruction, I also did the NSCA cert and ultimately the NSCA-CSCS.....
the latter, just to see what was what.

Along the way, I've done more specialty certs in addition to SPINNING..... kettlebell, group strength and more recently stuff pertaining to the older population.....fall prevention etc.

Of that little lot, I think NSCA will give you what you need with ACE a very close second. Everyone who's anyone knows these two.

Unless you're hankering for the affiliate franchise type of places that're springing up like a dose of The Pix... CrossFit, Starting Strength etc. These require their own certification no matter what you already have. It's part of the initial affiliate agreement and a grand money making scheme for Mark Rippetoe etc.

It'll be a fun journey. Good luck!
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Forgot to mention.... it's possible to get used training materials for most of the certs cheap on Amazon. Won't get you a certification but will supplement what you decide on.....or, if you're not sure, help with decision making.
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That's a dose of the Pox, BTW
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Thanks for all the info - wow, you are a cert champ! (addict?) :)

So NSCA and a close second ACE is my takeaway from what you have said. And apparently there are a million specific certs for specific areas.

I'm mostly asking on behalf of my girlfriend, who may work on certification in the background of her normal work (lab/scientist work). She may also get certified in yoga; she has been an instructor before in another country so she is well-versed in it.

Even though this board is mostly dead I figured I would ask and maybe get some useful info. :)

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Well, such knowledge building isn't as odd as it sounds...... unless you're a Latin scholar or something and your line of work involves stuff that's stayed the same for centuries.

One of the things I found interesting when I got into formal fitness is that exercise science is a rapidly evolving field and if you're interested in it and want to stay current, continued education is pretty much mandatory..... and if you're not interested with no desire to stay current, it's hardly worth the effort because, for sure, it's not the path to wealth and fortune.

Over the past decade or so there's been quite a seed change in the fitness field...... spurred by the challenge that the affiliate/franchise set ups have provided to Big Box gyms. CrossFit being the best known, I guess plus Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength places and all those high street set ups....Orange Theory, Yogapod, Soul Cycle etc. The better places now want educated trainers and group ex. instructors because the paying customer is getting more savvy and demanding. One reason I was as in demand was that I could offer clients and class members a little more than a "one more rep"/"grapevine to the left" type of experience and a bit more than a Men's/Women's Health depth of physiology understanding....... which is a perfectly fine place to start, I might add.

It's an exciting and evolving field to be part of. I'm in Emeritus mode right now. Lost a bit of fitness with the move to Colorado and high altitude, developed AFib (not totally unrelated to altitude, apparently) and got a brand new gig as a granny. Moving back up the fitness ladder now so my formal fitness days may not be behind me.
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Yeah...... it's a sad old place to hang out these days. Boy, I remember back when I was dipping my toe in the formal fitness World (early aughts) and lurked for ages before asking/commenting on a question. Baldguy, Bufftrainer (he'd have a good take on your question) Steross, Andrea (she actually did the NASM cert and sort of wished she'd gone the NSCA route when she saw my stuff on a weekend visit)..... Where are they now.

Actually, Andrea contacted me via Facebook just before Christmas so, at least, she's still above ground. Wonder if she's still doing the hoop dancing?? That is one exercise format where I well and truly suck!!
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Interesting discussion.

Starting Strength has bifurcated into that plus BLOC (Barbell Logic Online), and Barbell Medicine.

They all do barbells and believe in linear progression for novices.

I thought they were expensive, until I checked out significantly less trained trainers sponsored by the local gym. They charge more for training that is much more complex and if you buy Rippetoe, accomplishes less in terms of strength.

So VeeEnn, are there any competitors out there in the weightlifting area that one should be looking at?

I’m doing remote coaching in an SSC and CrossFit certified gym: two in person and 4 videos per month.

And congrats, Grandma.

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I'm not sure what you're asking, Paul..... a certification for yourself or what to look for in a trainer.

..... until I checked out significantly less well trained trainers sponsored by the local gym

How did you decide this? From your own assessment or because Mark Rippetoe says so? A trainer's level of training and experience depends upon their individual track record not whether they train from a trad setting, a SS or CrossFit box or their computer chair. Mark Rippetoe tends to be dismissive of anything that's not Big Lifts (alone) linear progression and "complexity" (anything other than Big Lifts alone) Well.......he would say that, wouldn't he. That's all he's got.

The thing to understand is that CrossFit, SS, Curves, Orange Theory etc are affiliate/franchise set ups. All you need to operate and train from one is to have done their particular certification course (which, unless things have changed dramatically since I last looked, have no pre requisites or formal testing) and ponied up the $$$$bucks necessary to buy your way into the set up. I'm sure the fee for online stuff is substantially cheaper which will reflect itself in fees charged the client. Doesn't mean that the folk who do this haven't done a more established training such as I outlined above in addition but certainly, if they are going just the SS cert route (and Ripp would claim this is all you need) then I'll stick my neck out and call BS on "better trained"

Just the basic coursework alone for ACE, AFAA, NASM, NSCA and ACSM (the major accredited bodies (that Ripp likes to dump on) addresses basic anatomy/kinesiology, physiology/exercise science in both the healthy AND medically compromised populations. That's the "complexity"or, as I would put it.... the reality of training a member of the general public.

It's entirely possible that trainers you met in a commercial gym were poorly trained. Possible....... but not likely. If they were unfamiliar with or not enthusiastic about the "Starting Strength" model it's because it's a niche market and not really appropriate for the average person walking into a gym first week in January looking to buy a training package (after years/decades of a sedentary lifestyle)

If you're happy with the training you're doing right now, why change. The gains you get are 80% down to what you do anyway.
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