It’s a fact: A fitness cert doesn't mean we know everything. Passing a personal training certification test only means that we have passed the minimum requirements needed to be a personal trainer. Because of this, I want to help you. I want you tell you some of the things I've learned over the years – and I want to know about stuff that you learned AFTER you became certified. For example :
- What exercise tricks of the trade did you learn after being certified?
- What marketing skills have you learned?
- How do you get clients?
- What business mistakes have you made?
- Group fitness instructors: what have you learned?
- Boot camp instructors: what have you learned?
- Massage therapists: what have you learned?
Anything you have learned after getting certified good stuff to talk about. I want people to have a place to learn and grow from fitness trainers. This will make your certification more complete and save you time.
I also want to hear from:
- Zumba instructors
- Fitness center front desk staff
- Health club day care center staff
- Kettle ball class instructors
Let me get the ball rolling by sharing some what I learned AFTER I was certified.
1. After I got my degree in chemistry and biology I thought I knew about exercise science. I was very wrong! My degree helped me understand how the body worked. But I didn’t understand how to apply that knowledge the real world until I got into grad school. Grad school for exercise science was very different – very real world. It was there that I finally put 2 and 2 together.
2. Nobody ever told me about exertional rhabdomyolysis, the destruction of muscle from too much exercise. This topic was not covered in the NSCA certifications I obtained – or in college. I bet that 99% of personal trainers have never heard of rhabdomyolysis. Because of this I make it a point to tell everybody about it.
3. You can't sell fitness or health unless you know the its benefits. Many personal trainers are not taught this in their certifications. Most health and fitness certifications focus on just on exercise science. This is good but all the knowledge in the world won't help if you can't convince someone to hire you or buy your product.
Companies use this this all the time. Just watch TV commercials and you'll see. For example:
- Alarm companies sell fear – fear that somebody will break into your house.
- Axe deodorant soap sells sex. They want you think girls will tear your clothes off if you use it.
- Car companies sell status and sex. This is why pretty girls are often used in car commercials.
For the record sex and fear are the biggest things used to motivate people.
For more on this here is my simple way to get more health club members
4. People who have a lower than average RHR, who don't exercise are probably taking medications to control high blood pressure. If you have my book Personal Fitness Training Beyond The Basics you've read my story about how I learned this life lesson the hard way.
5. There is nothing healthy about working in a health club. You work long hours and often neglect yourself. Many trainers eat on the go – sometimes not as well as they should – and others work from 5Am to 10PM. Yes, you often get a free gym membership but if you're a popular trainer you may not get to use it because your days are taken up helping others. I'm not disparaging the gym environment but those who get into the field should take steps to be good to themselves – so they can keep helping others.
When you comment, leave your website so I can link to you.
Now it's your turn. What did you learn AFTER you were certified?
laura gentile says
I think some might think being certified is all you need. Unfortunately, it takes being around the right environment, other trainers so that a good and resourceful skill set can be achieved to help become a “Personal” trainer.
Joe Cannon says
Laura, you make a very good point that a lot of people think is true. The certification is only the first step. Its about being qualified not just certified. Good website you have by the way. One of the things I keep telling personal trainers is to “get a website”. Its one of the best long term investments they can make. let me know when you start doing pod casts 🙂
Joe Cannon says
Shelly, that’s fascinating that the personal trainers at your gym would not pay attention to the people they worked with. They need to know that the “athletes” are few and far in between and unless they are a real professional athlete, they probably cant afford to pay them – most athletes are pretty poor until the endorsements roll in!
Thats for the heads up on this Shelly. Ill be sure to mention this point in the lectures I give to personal trainers.
Shelley Shafer says
One of the most important things I learned about being a trainer after I was certified, I learned by being a gym member and watching the trainers working with their clients. The gym I use has young men who are very educated and know a lot about working out, but they don’t really pay much attention to their client unless it is someone who they really want to work with, like a professional athlete or someone who is in a competitive sport.
When you work with all the “Joe Averages” out there, treat them like they are important too. They notice these things, trust me, and sometimes word of mouth is a great way to get clients.
I’ve learned that a lot of new personal trainers come out of their certification testing afraid to train male and female clients. This is really frowned upon the female trainers. They are afraid to train men. Why is that? If you are a personal trainer you should be able to train any gender. In addition, Joe every time I take one of your certifications I always leave full of additional knowledge. For instance Sarcopenia, I didn’t have a clue how much damage this can cause to a persons body. I’ve seen lots of saggy/baggy butts and skinny legs.
Joe Cannon says
Great points Dave! I also don’t feel a personal trainer has to have a college degree. College degrees can help but they don’t usually prepare people to be personal trainers.
Dave DePew says
My first cert was in 94 and I can’t say I learned anything from it because it was test only and I didn’t even study. I just passed based on what I had taught myself. In fact having looked at the 300 page manual only once i was sure i wouldn’t pass. Then in the Navy I continued to study as a hospital corpsman and in 5 years got over 12 other fitness certifications and 100’s of medical certifications and quals. I studied a great deal on my own, but when I started taking college Anatomy and Physiology everything started coming together.
Every personal training work shop I did helped me learn something I’m sure. In most cases it was something I had not planned to learn or didn’t know I needed. I hated how each cert would contradict the other. They can’t even agree on what an ideal body fat is.
I also can’t stand these certs created by athletic coaches and physical therapists. Their input is of great value, but most of these people never worked in a gym a day in their life. This industry truly needs a board examination.
Then there is the whole issue of the degree. Does a trainer need a degree? Not having a degree myself I have always argued they don’t , but it is very difficult to find good trainers who don’t need training. I do feel at some point they should pass an exam that clearly shows they posses the competency to work with the general public. With that there should be some clear standards of care.
Joe Cannon says
Scott. Thanks for letting me know about the Mike Boyle / CrossFit debate. Like Mike, I often mention CrossFit when I discuss rhabdomyolysis. As I understand it, CrossFit has accidentally caused rhabdo in some of their members (I believe this was addressed in one of CrossFit’s newsletters). Nice to know I’m not the only person talking about this.
Scott Fishkind says
I definitely agree with you Joe, getting certified is just merely the beginning of the education process. There is an endless amount of info out there to learn!
At the same time trainers need to know how to properly implement the new information they do learn and make sure it’s appropriate for their clients and use appropriate progressions in it’s implementation.
One big mistake trainers make is when they learn something new and are so excited that they try it out on the wrong person and put their client at risk. I’ve heard horror stories about trainers having clients do completely inappropriate exercises, often ignoring that they just aren’t advanced enough or that the client may have obvious contraindications that would put them at risk.
Also, along this line of though, trainers really need to understand that what THEY do for their own workouts is probably not going to be right for a large percentage of the folks they train. Just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it’ll work for their clients, or just because they’ve fallen in love with a specific modality of training doesn’t mean it should be used across the board for everyone they work with.
I am also glad that you brought up the subject of rhabdomyolysis. This condition was first brought to my attention due to a huge debate between world class trainer Michael Boyle and the Cross Fit community.
It was a huge wakeup call for folks to realize is that while exercise is absolutely essential to achieve fitness and overall well being, too much of even a good thing can be dangerous. People really have to respect the signals their body is telling them.
As a trainer, I put as much emphasis on restorative practices as everything else I do with my clients. If one can’t recover properly from their workouts they won’t get the best results and can end up actually doing harm to themselves. I definitely believe fitness should be a holistic endeavor.
Thanks for your great site!
Scott Fishkind/Time4You Fitness, Franklin, TN
georgette pann says
okay..I have a lot on this but I’m only going to address 1 or 2..I just want to say that some of the certs I took tests for taught me little to nothing..sorry to say. Now having had a educational background and therapy background helped me tremendously for passing the ACE test…but for actually being a good trainer it was ALL my hands on training experience…and for business and marketing well again this wasn’t even barely addressed.
Now for the next shocker…Bootcamp certifications….although I do have one …it taught me Nothing…sorry again:) But I was already in business for myself ,running camps and have the Sure Victory Bootcamp Kit for trainers…regardless of all that, the test focused on exercises and workouts….nothing about the business side of running bootcamps at all…structuring a camp,forms,waivers,and I could go on about what was NOT included in course. All that said I’m not sure it’s even necessary to have a certification in certain areas….EDUCATION…YES! certification? In some cases a big Yes,such as nutrition,personal training,post rehab. BUT, for these other so called certs courses..NO….as in NOT Needed!
For any further questions or information you can email me personally at nutrifit#georgettepann.com