Update 9/9/20. Every so often I encounter people who call themselves a “master personal trainer” and I always wonder what it took for them to make this boastful claim? Did they go to college or have they been in business for many years? Sadly, calling oneself a master trainer is easier than most think. Does a Master Personal Trainer know everything? What does it take to use this title? If you've been wondering about what a master trainer is and what it takes to become one, I'm about to open your eyes.
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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 has lots of clients and generates a lot of 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 mean they know personal training. Rather, it could mean they are a good salesperson.
This is one of the big scams that go on in gyms.
The simple truth is the label master personal trainer is unregulated. There is no formal definition. That's why I often call it the fitness equivalent of a bag of magic beans!
To put things in perspective, I have a Masters's degree – in exercise science. I have never called myself a master personal trainer.
Passing any fitness certification (ACE, AFAA, NSCA, NASM, ISSA, etc.) only demonstrates you know 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 Master Personal Trainer Test
For the master trainers out there who are angry at how I'm belittling their title, I invite you to take this simple 4 question test:
1. Your client's legs cramp every time he/she walks for more than a few minutes.
What might you suspect?
2. Your client complains 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 questions, but they show up daily
How many master trainers knew these answers?
If you know all the answers, fantastic! There is an excellent chance that you did more than simply pass a certification test or make a lot of money for the gym, to earn that title. That’s what it’s really about –education.
What Your Clients Really Want
How many fitness trainers reading these words worked out this week? How many books about fitness did you read this week?
There lies the problem…
Biceps don't matter. Education matters.
As a fitness trainer, you prescribe a powerful drug called exercise. It takes ongoing education to know how to prescribe it in the right dosage. The dosage is based on the frequency, intensity, time, and type of exercise someone does.
Titles like “master personal trainer” and others that this does not matter. All that matters is being educated as you can be. There are many fitness trainers 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. My college degree did not prepare me to be a personal trainer. It prepared me for medical school!
On the flip side, I have met trainers 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 person who admits when they don’t know something and then goes out and finds the right answer.
Master Trainer Interviews
Here are a couple of video podcast interviews I did with two very educated and passionate fitness professionals:
Both of these men are true master personal trainers. I suggest you watch both videos. They don't hold back.
More Time In The Library
Part of being a master trainer is studying. Working out is not enough. We have to work on our craft. Most fitness trainers spend too much time in the gym and not enough time in the library. I just made a LOT of people mad. But, it's true. For those who call themselves master personal trainers, what have you read:
- This week?
- This month?
- This year?
are relevant to your profession, then I'd have no problem with you.
If on the other hand, you have done nothing except may post your exercise videos on Instagram or YouTube, then I'm sorry but you are not a master personal trainer, no matter what the piece of paper says.
If you want to improve your education, here are some resources:
Also, take a look at my post What's the Best Personal Training Cert for more information.
Nobody Knows Everything
I never call myself a master personal trainer or an “expert” or anything. I have some college degrees and have written a few books but I don’t know everything– and I hope I never do! I try to learn something new every day. Given the excessive cost of some fitness certifications and titles, I felt these words needed to be said, especially for those making minimum wage working in a gym.
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.