Personal Training Certifications - Not All are Created Equal
Personal trainers play an important role in the lives of many who are struggling and aspiring health and condition-conscious people. But how do you 'validate' your skills as a personal trainer? Personal training certifications are essential if you are a dedicated personal trainer (PT), interested in giving the best to your clients, and to get a good income of course.
Just perform a Google search on "Online Personal Training Certification", and you'll actually come across a whole long list of certifications - there was one which seemed like a joke as it costs only USD49.99! But the fact is .. that there are tonnes of personal training certifications out there - which one is the best and can offer you the experience, knowledge, training, satisfaction and a chance at a great personal trainer salary?
In my opinion, the personal training scene here in Malaysia is not as competitive and as lucrative as it is in most other countries. If you would read up the profile of the personal trainer at your gyms, you would notice that only a handful have taken the initiative to get certified by an independent and recognised certification body (ACE, FISAF, etc), while the rest of them (which is almost MOST of them actually) only possess an in house certification.
In my opinion, unless the PT has a real genuine passion for his job, he'd make a lousy trainer if his knowledge and expertise depended SOLELY on what he learns at the in house certification course. Most of the time, the in house courses are only recognised by that one fitness chain itself, and not the others. I've also had the opportunity to glance through some of their training materials, which interestingly, even addresses the area of convincing members at the gym to sign up for personal training packages. It even includes sample questions and answers, what you should say if given a particular excuse not to sign up, etc. Yes, thats sick! Now you know why some of the rotten ones can sometimes be so persistent and annoying.. its cos they studied how to!
To those of you who have not heard of the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) the ISSA is recognised worldwide and are very highly respected in this field. Anyway, personally, I've always been very keen on certifications from the ISSA myself, mainly because:
1. I know people who have sat for ISSA certifications - and they are top notch personal trainers.
2. I've seen some of their examination questions before, and they make the most sense when compared to a few others.
3. The convenience and the freedom/flexibility to study at your own pace, and sit for an online exam.
For me, being here in Malaysia, having to juggle a busy work schedule and my time at the gym doesn't leave me much time to enroll myself in a class to study for a certification. I wish I could just sit for the exam and skip the course materials! And the ISSA gives you just that - the freedom to study at a relaxed pace and to sit for the online exam when you're ready. That alone, is enough to swing my decision to them, but the fact that they actually are a credible voice in this industry.. is a very welcome bonus.
There are many who aren't all out for online certifications, and I don't blame them. For example, a complete newbie would need to familiarize himself with exercises, technique, and have a good understanding of our health and bodies. For someone like me, or anyone who's been around the scene for a good few years - an online certification could be just what they need to take their career to the next level since we already have the basics nailed down. Although there's nothing like having a real live person in front of you to interact with, I'm actually pretty comfortable with their in depth study materials and support offered.
The ISSA offers a completely online personal training course. You can sign up, read materials, take practice tests, and sit for the real certification exam all online. No need to talk to a real person. This does have its up and downs.. but I do believe that the quality of their syllabus, and if you really are a dedicated person and are passionate about it - getting certified will easily place you 10 notches above the average PT in your gym who only carries an in house certification.
The ISSA offers certifications in various categories, but I've personally had my eyes set on the Specialist in Performance Nutrition (SPN) certification for quite some time now. Its not really a course that gets you involved in training an individual, but pretty much a specialised course to understand the role nutrition plays in our bodies and how we can best maximise that for maximum performance by our bodies.