Every so often I encounter people who calls themselves a “master” personal trainer and I always wonder what it took for them to make this boastful claim? Does a Master Personal Trainer know everything? If you've been wondering about this too, let's talk about this and see what we can discover.
What Is A Master Personal Trainer?
At gyms they sometimes have personal trainers and “master personal trainers.” When I ask people what they did to deserve the master title, they usually reply that they passed a “Master Personal Trainer” certification test.
I have had several of these Master Trainers take the basic AAAI/ISMA personal training certification that I teach –and they often fail the test! How can this be…?
How Gyms Define Master Trainers?
At some gyms, a master personal trainer is just somebody who generates a lot of personal training revenue per pay period. That's it! So a master trainer is somebody who makes the most money. I'm sorry but that doesn't necessarily mean they know personal training. Rather, it could mean they are a good sales person.
The simple truth is the label master personal trainer is unregulated. There is no formal definition. That's why I often say its the the fitness equivalent of a bag of magic beans!
To put things in perspective, I have a Masters degree – in exercise science. I have never called myself a master personal trainer.
Passing any fitness certification (ACE, AFAA, NSCA, NASM, ISSA, ect.) only demonstrates that the person knows the MINIMUM requirements. There may be some advanced topics covered in a master personal trainer certification exam but there is still SO MUCH MORE that is not covered.
Take This Personal Trainer Test
For the master trainers out there who are fuming at how I'm deprecating their title, take this test:
2. Your client complains that their muscles are extremely sore immediately after exercise. What’s might you suspect?
3. Your female client, who runs marathons, confides that she’s missed 3 menstrual cycles in a row -and she’s not pregnant. What might you suspect?
4. Your client tells you that their A1c level is 9.0. What does that mean?
Granted, these are advanced topics, but they show up daily (especially question #1) . How many trainers knew the answers? How many master trainers know the answers? If you did, fantastic! There is a great chance that you did more than simply pass a certification test or make a lot of money for the gym, to earn that title and that’s what it’s really about –education.
Titles like “master personal trainer” and others that like it do not matter. All that matters is staying educated. There are many personal trainers out there who have college degrees –and they don’t know anything about personal training! let me be clear: A college degree does not mean the person knows personal training.
How many personal trainers reading these words worked out this week? That's great. How many books about fitness did you read this week? Biceps don't matter – education matters,
There are also trainers out there with no degree and no “certification” who are very smart. They are the passionate ones. They learn, study, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. That’s the person I want in my corner. The trainer who admits when they don’t know something and then goes out and finds the right answer.
Part of being a master trainer is studying. Working out is not enough. We have to work at our craft. So, for those who call themselves master personal trainers, can I ask you what you read:
- This week?
- This month?
- This year?
If you can honestly say you regularly take online courses, attended conventions, read books /journals that are relevant to what a personal trainer does, then I'd have no problem with you.
If on the other hand, you have not been honing your craft at all – then, I'm sorry but you are not a master personal trainer, no matter what the piece of paper says.
May I suggest a few things to help if you achieve that goal of being a master trainer don't know where to start:
Also take a look at my post What's the Best Personal Training Cert for more information.
Nobody Knows Everything
I sure don’t. I never call myself a master personal trainer or an “expert” or anything like that. I have some college degrees and I’ve even been lucky enough to have written a few books but I don’t know everything– and I hope I never do! I try to learn something new about fitness and nutrition every day. I think this, more than anything else, is at the heart of the matter.
If my venting on this topic offended some people, that was not my intention. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I felt these words needed to be said. So many people get hung up on titles that they lose sight of the big picture – staying educated. If you are a master fitness trainer, great.
Just make sure you reinforce it with new ideas and knowledge on a regular basis. Failure to do so is like buying a new car – and never changing the oil. Also see my review of online personal trainer certs.
What do you think?