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Information on Personal Trainers
by Justin Leonard
Written on February 19, 2001

Question: The Today television program this morning had a person on who said there are a few hundred different organizations (most of which aren't reputable) from which a personal trainer can get a certification. She recommended the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

1. What are your thoughts on ACE?

2. When looking for a personal trainer, from which organization(s) should the trainer have a certification?

ACE is definitely one of the top personal training certification organizations. It is internationally recognized. Two other organizations of note are the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). I personally am certified by the ISSA.

To be honest, it really doesn't matter which organization someone should have a certification. Many of the larger gym chains have their own certification. For example, Gold's Gym has their own, the new 24-Hour Fitness chains have their own, and Joe Weider has his own. This doesn't necessarily make them any less credible.

What makes organizations like ACE and ACSM the best is that they require so many hours of prior experience, CPR certification, annual recertification, etc. Some even require you to have so many hours/years of school in a fitness/medical career field before you can test for a certification.

Once certified, the top organizations require you to continue your education by so many hours. They make sure that their trainers are current!

How easy is it to become certified?

It's actually pretty easy to become a certified personal trainer. All you need is about 150 - $300 and a CPR certification, although some organization don't require one. Anyone can do it. Almost all certifications are courses that you can study within 1 week, followed by a test.

In fact, you can even get certified from no-names such as Joe's Cheese Pizza Online. All you do is call a number, request a home study course, request the test when you're ready. They send the test. You take the test. You send it back with $150 and you're officially certified as a personal trainer.

Who cares where you acquired the certification? The bottom line is that you get the CPT (certified personal trainer) at the end of your name.

Scary isn't it? It's just that easy...

In addition to a major organizational name, try to look for the following credentials in a personal trainer:

1. Go with a name, not necessarily a certification.

Find out who knows their stuff and has experience. Maybe even get a referral from a friend or someone who has had proven success with a particular trainer.

2. Go with experience.

Someone with 8 years of hands on experience with weights will more than likely be a better trainer than someone certified by a top organization for only 2 years.

For example, most pro bodybuilders are not certified personal trainers. But wouldn't it be nice if you could have someone with proven-effective workout techniques help you train?

Lastly, it's important to note that those with degrees don't necessarily make the best personal personal trainers. Often times, their field of education and training may lack in certain areas. For example, a person with a degree in kinesiology (study of human movement) may not be fully qualified to offer nutrition advice. In fact, in many states, only registered dieticians can offer nutrition advice. Whereas a registered dietician may not necessarily be a good personal trainer.

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