Your personal trainer certification must be both valuable and worthwhile to you as well as recognized by your potential employer. Most clients cannot and will not be able to disseminate all the information available for determining the quality of an education program for a trainer. The primary importance for your personal trainer certification is to prepare you to be successful as a personal trainer, not just pass your personal trainer certification exam.
Your personal training certification/education program should teach you how to find, communicate with, and obtain personal training clients. Most people don’t think they need a personal trainer and you will need to be able to know enough to help them AND know how to talk to them to show them that you do. Too many programs focus on the business side of getting personal training clients far too generally as if it were as simple as “working hard” or just “talking to a lot of people.” You must have specific points of recognition for how to approach and associate with people who do not think they need a trainer, not just convince those who want a personal trainer that you are the right one for them. It isn’t about overcoming objections or getting past “no”, it’s about connecting with, empathizing with, and providing value to your clients and potential clients.
After teaching the important business side of training your personal training education program should attend to reasonable assessments (of physical capabilities and limitations) and significant time should be spent on the biomechanics of movement before programming exercise. No single exercise (or group of exercises) works all the time nor will it be the right one for everyone. A solid program will teach you how to determine appropriate possible exercise selections and the proper biomechanical and physiological rationales for choosing them. A worthy personal training education and preparation program should teach you how to analyze and synthesize information. It doesn’t matter how much you know if you don’t know how to apply it properly.
Education for personal training (or any skilled field) should include both live and home study. You can’t just show up and listen and you can’t just read information. It’s best to learn live whenever possible and use home study as a supplement and additional aid to your preparations. Home study is very convenient and live study is where you will be given the opportunity to discuss topics of importance and gain better clarity by watching and hearing different scenarios and applications for the exercise sciences from an experienced personal trainer who is also a great teacher.
In the long run you should obtain several certifications as each program will provide different perspectives and focus points on the information. You should not have one teacher all your life or there will be a lot in life you will miss. This is true of all things. There is little worse from an “experienced” professional than to not spend time improving, studying, and learning on an ongoing basis. There is no experience if there is no significant learning and changing over time. A personal trainer (or any certified or licensed professional) should be far better in a year’s time than they are now, regardless of current education or experience. The trainer who says, “I know what works” can virtually be guaranteed to be a non-student and reluctant to change or grow. You want to be a trainer who is expected to learn and grow just as your clients are expected to learn, grow, and improve.
Learn live. Follow-up with home study. Learn more live. Follow-up more with more home study. Never stop. Find a course that covers business and biomechanics as primary focus points of personal trainer success, but never turn down additional opportunities that follow for you to learn more and to grow in your profession and to truly be considered an “expert.”