Perhaps you are considering becoming a personal trainer, or maybe you are trying to understand what a personal trainer is and how they can help you. The phrase personal trainer can be used synonymous with fitness trainer. It is an individual who works with people in a one-on-one setting to achieve the client’s fitness goals. A personal trainer sometimes also holds and instructs a variety of fitness classes or do group trainings. However, it is important to remember that not all group instructors are personal trainers. Group instructors may be a personal trainer but they may just be an individual trained to instruct a particular class.
A personal trainer should be certified. You may hear the phrase “Certified Personal Trainer”, “Certified Fitness Trainer”. These individuals have studied and passed a certification exam. It is important to be aware that not all states require personal trainers to be certified. For example Pennsylvania is one of those states that has no certification requirements.
You may be asking yourself why is it important for a trainer to be certified? Here's the reason... It is nearly impossible that a trainer without a certification is insured, and in the event you get hurt (which with a non-certified trainer is more likely) you can only go after the trainer personally which will likely not result in enough money to pay your medical bills. Other reasons to work with a certified trainer is the sheer fact that you do not want to get hurt, and you want to feel confident they are designing the most effective and safe program based on your needs and abilities. There is more to training than just picking weights up and putting them down.
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Are all certifications equal? The simple answer is no. There are hundreds of different organizations that offer fitness/personal trainer certifications. However, there are roughly 75 or less that have credibility. So the question is how do you know if the trainer has a reputable certification? The answer is the that a certification should be recognized by a CREDIBLE organization such as the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), by the International Health Raquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), or the American Council on Education (ACE).
The NCCA is an organization that sought accreditation through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI is not affiliated with the government and are a private company. However, what they do is they take American products/services and set a standard, as to help industries or products to have some uniformity, which is of particular interest when coordinating U.S. standards with other international standards. These standards are so accepted throughout the industry that some universities award college credit for passing exams accredited by the NCCA. Some of the most prevalent NCCA accredited certifications are offered from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American College of Exercise (ACE), and National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
The other organizations that are used for credentialing fitness certifications are recognized by the US Department of Education. The International Sports and Sciences Association is one such organization that chose DEAC, and CHEA instead of the NCCA. The reasons for choosing one accrediting body or another is solely at the discretion of the fitness organization. However, both are accepted throughout the industry and all the organizations mentioned here are solid leaders in the industry, offering arguably the best certifications available.
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