Above and Beyond

Many personal training certifications are crap.  I won’t say most, because that implies the majority are, and I won’t put a percentage on it because that’s just insane.  What I can say is that there are quite a few that suck.

Mine was OK…and just that; no more, no less.  I didn’t learn a whole lot from it.  This isn’t to say others won’t learn much from it though.  I had completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical & Health Education prior to starting the course, plus my general interest in sports, health, and functioning of the human body helped to build my knowledge base.

In my case, completion of the personal training certification was simply for the paper.  In my opinion, the course I completed in England needs a bit of a re-evaluation.  There are many components missing for it to be a legitimate guide in terms of what trainers should be learning and where they should be heading in the future.

A couple things come to mind.  Why are they still teaching situps?  One of my final evaluations involved administering a test where an individual completes the maximum number of full situps in 60 seconds. This goes against everything we should be teaching:

-proper functioning of the core

-proper training through anti movements when dealing with the core (anti flexion, anti rotation, etc.)

-repeated spinal flexion (lumbar, thoracic, or cervical) is bad

-time constraints and spinal movements suck – we need quality training, especially when dealing with the spine – not a 60sec test where the client is compensating all over (i.e. flexing hips flexors like crazy) to see how many situps they can complete.

The importance of mobility work, proper physical assessment or screening process, teaching important movements (i.e. hip hinge), and other important elements were all vastly overlooked.

Of course I cannot speak for all personal training certifications – maybe yours was great, but the point I want to convey is that you shouldn’t be complacent with your baseline qualification.  Never stop learning.  Go above and beyond what is expected, or what trainers around you are settling for. I have learned SO MUCH since completing my certification 7 months ago, and I will continue to grow and develop.

What makes personal training tough, especially to onlookers and clients is this: to the untrained eye, people may not be able to pick out the guy who is just coasting on knowledge from his lacklustre week-long ‘PT course’, from the trainer who has dedicated his life to continuing education and mastering his craft – from analyzing physical dysfunction and movement to corrective exercise, nutrition, the psychology of health behaviour change, and so much more.

To many people, the trainer who simply prescribes 20mins on the treadmill, some lateral raises, and 150 crunches before telling their client to hit the showers doesn’t really look too different than someone who actually knows what they’re doing.  There are many reasons for this.  Maybe the horrible trainer sells himself really well and has clients lined up, although his or her programming sucks.  Maybe they actually do get results, but perhaps it is through nutritional advice, and the physical aspect of training is actually the detrimental part of the client-trainer relationship.  There are loads of reasons why a poor trainer can seem as if they are successful.

So how can you stand out? 

Continue to learn and apply yourself and you will eventually get positive results.  Over the long run, your clients’ bodies will be functioning better, your retention of clients will be high and word of mouth will work in your favour. Clients will be saying, “I feel so much more mobile… oh and my neck hasn’t been hurting lately; I haven’t felt that in years!”, rather than, “Man, my abs hurt so much the next day, I could barely get out of bed!”

Closing Words

Never coast on what you feel is enough to just get by.  We live in a competitive world, and a competitive (fitness) market.  Be the the better trainer and invest in yourself and your future.

Lee Boyce wrote up a fantastic piece about his experiences with the awarding body for his certification and why he is fed up with it. Check it out HERE.

Forever learning,



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