Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Personal Trainer Certifications-- What's legit?

My jaw dropped when a “certified personal trainer” confessed his complete ignorance about training with free weights. At 36, he was in the gym taking his first stab at weight lifting because he “thought it might be good for his clients.”

“Certification” alone is a pretty cheap claim. If someone wants a quick and easy nutrition or personal trainer certification, he or she can readily find weekend and online courses, requiring only a fee and a flakey exam, to get “certified.” This person could have no real knowledge in the area of weight training or nutrition. So if you are in the market for a personal trainer, how do you know that your pick is truly credentialed in the area of personal training, fitness, or nutrition? Nationally, the National Commission For Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the accreditation organization which is accountable to the Unites States Department of Health and Human Services. In 1987, the NCCA was created to

“help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the accreditation of a variety of certification programs/organizations that assess professional competence. Certification programs that receive NCCA Accreditation demonstrate compliance with the NCCA’s Standards for the Accreditation of Certification Programs, which were the first standards for professional certification programs developed by the industry.

NCCA uses a peer review process to: establish accreditation standards; evaluate compliance with the standards; recognize organizations/programs which demonstrate compliance; and serve as a resource on quality certification…”

Several popular or well-known certifications are not actually accredited, though there are also many options for an individual wishing to become a personal trainer. It is significantly harder to become certified in nutrition. Below, I’ve listed all of the exercise, training, fitness, and nutrition certifications accredited by the NCCA as of August 2008:

Accredited Personal Training and Fitness Certifications:

American College of Sports Medicine
Certified Personal Trainer 4/30/11
Exercise Specialist 4/30/11
Health/Fitness Instructor 4/30/11
Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist 4/30/11
American Council on Exercise
Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist 11/30/08
Group Fitness Instructor 11/30/08
Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant 11/30/08
Personal Trainer 11/30/08
The Cooper Institute
Personal Trainer Certification 11/30/11
International Fitness Professionals Association
Certified Personal Fitness Trainer 10/31/12
National Academy of Sports Medicine
Certified Personal Trainer 11/30/10
National Athletic Trainer's Association Board of Certification
Entry-Level Athletic Trainer Certification 10/31/10
National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association
Certified Personal Fitness Trainer 3/31/13
National Exercise Trainers Association
Certified Personal Trainer 4/30/12
National Federation of Professional Trainers
Certified Personal Fitness Trainer 11/30/10
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certification Commission
Certified Personal Trainer 10/31/08
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist 10/31/08
Accredited Nutrition Certifications

American Clinical Board of Nutrition
Diplomate American Clinical Board of Nutrition 11/30/10 (requires a graduate degree)
Certifying Board for Dietary Managers
Certified Dietary Manager 8/31/09 (specific to food service workers)
Commission on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association
Dietetic Technician, Registered 11/30/11
Registered Dietitian 11/30/11
Board Certified Specialist on Renal Nutrition 11/30/11

Jean offers nutrition coaching for weight loss, muscle gain, or any of your personal goals at her office in the Alico building in downtown Waco, TX. She also offers personal training services at Ironhorse gym on the corner of Franklin and 17th, which is also very convenient to downtown. Contact information can be found on her personal website.

21 comments:

Super-Trainer said...

Yeah - it might be a good idea for a personal trainer to pick up a weight now and then - for the clients, of course...

jamieatlas said...

Great post! Personal trainers can sometimes be led into thinking that a certification is all they need to be able to help others. I worked for www.ptonthenet.com in a position that had me talking with fitness managers from around the world. The biggest problem I found was not the qualification, but the ability of people to comprehend that this job is not for the rich and famous, but for the unfit and intimidated. I wrote a blog post about it if anyone is interested in knowing about becoming a REAL personal trainer (hint: certification - albeit crucial, is just a small part of the equation)

link is below:

http://jamieatlas.wordpress.com/2008/07/26/do-you-want-to-be-a-personal-trainer-what-you-need-to-know-pt-1/

Joe Cannon said...

I certify personal trainers and I agree a cert is only one part of the equation. Having said that I've encountered many certified trainers who were oblivious of such relevant issues as rhabdomyolysis and sarcopenia. A cert is good but must be accompanied by a practical component (which at least one on the list doesn't have) and continued education
Joe Cannon, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
www.Joe-Cannon.com

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Jean Gutierrez, PhD, RD said...

Thanks all for your comments! I completely agree that trainers should lead by example (i.e. actually be fit) and that a good cert is only the first step in being a qualified trainer. Great trainers stay current with the science, develop a niche, and are great motivators and educators as well!

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