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All Certs are the Same

(Los Angeles CA)

It amazes me how everyone thinks this certification is better than that one and the rest!

What people fail to realize when getting into the PT business, is no certification or any degree will make you a great PT. All they are is a piece of paper with you're name on it. It's not going to mean you will be making a lot of money, nor does it mean every potential client will flock to you, because you have this certain certification.

It's a constant battle i see all the time, it's actually pretty funny, but hey, it's great marketing for the PT certs ain't it? I know plenty of trainers who have the so called best cert, NASM, and they also have a degree to go along with it. Sounds great don't it?
NOT...i see these trainers bounce from gym to gym, complaining about pay

What people need to do is ask themselves "why do i want to be a CPT". Way way way too many people get into the PT business for the wrong reasons, and they fail because of it. They bounce from gym to gym, complaining about pay, and not having clients etc....But wait a minute. They should be making lots of money and having lots of clients, because they have the best certification!

Sorry folks, there is no best certification. If you are getting into the business and looking to work for a gym, call the gym and speak to the Fitness Manager and ask what certifications they accept. Each gym will usually have a 25+ list of certs they accept. Pick one and go with it. You'll get the same pay if you got a $300 cert vs someone with a $600 cert

Besides, when you apply for a PT position at any commercial gym, you are actually applying for a Salesman position, because that's what you truly are, but it's fronted as a PT, because it sounds better to potential clients and members

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So then.....what certification do you have?
by: Joe Bartovic

It is true that most big gyms will take whatever certification or lack of you have, if you look the part and can sell. That's why such a large percentage of people in the gyms have distrust for trainers, they look at them like car salesmen, they see them come and go. Unless you can back you self up with education no one will ever take you seriously. A better certification CAN make you more money if YOU can apply the knowledge. Remember people are paying you for your expertice. If you can't deliver all the letters after your name don't mean a thing.
One thing is for sure a $49.99 online certification will never have the same level of respect as a NCCA certification among other trainers in gym, and if your not at the same level as your competition your not going to get many clients.
Joe Bartovic A.S.
WITS Faculty Instuctor
apex Fit-pro
GNC School of Strength
..and the list will keep on getting longer.
Application + Action of Knowledge is Power.

So true
by: Katie - Admin

I couldn't have said it any better Joe. Thanks for being a great contributor on these forums.


by: CAPT

People are not paying you for your certification(s).
People are paying you to change their lives, and no certification will ever do that. A potential client will not be concerned about what certifications you have. They are concerned about "will you provide me the results which is what i'm paying for"

The PT industry is a continuous learning experience. You can't just have a certification and convince yourself that you know everything. Just because you have such and such cert does not make you better than the next trainer with a non recognized cert.

I know plenty of trainers who have these high end certs that have big marketing along with a degree, that bounce from gym to gym complaining about not making money.These trainers are in the industry for the wrong reasons. I then know trainers who don't have these huge recognized certs that are doing very well for themselves. One of my friends is IFA certified (cheap online cert), who has his own PT studio and makes 80K a year with just his PT alone. That goes to show you, a piece of paper with your name on it doesn't make you a good and above of a PT.

Just because you have a certain cert does not mean you will have more clients. There is no competiton there. You will blow all the other trainers away if you provide results regardless of what cert you have. Results = Referrals = More income. Certifications don't do this. There are so many people who workout in gyms who know more than the trainers who work there. Pretty sad.

I know that my portfolio is extremely more important than my cert(s). Showing them a cert means nothing, but showing them my portfolio is HUGE. It's usually a done deal when i show them my portfolio

I am certified with NESTA and ISSA.

All Certs ARE NOT the Same
by: Anonymous

Hello. I have been in the fitness industry since 1994--starting out with Group Exercise certs and in 2005, earned a nationally-recognized Personal Trainer cert.

**All certs ARE NOT the same** Take it from someone who has been certified by numerous bodies: AFAA, (I've even been an AFAA examiner and was a charter candidate when they launched their AFP practioner's program), NDIETA (now called NETA), FiTOUR, mulitiple YMCA certifications, etc.--and I had/have these certs SIMULTANEOUSLY.

They are not all the same. I am from the Washington, DC area and a fitness director for a major club and I were recently in a conversation about the industry in general. She has hosted several AFAA certifications and said HERSELF that AFAA's PT cert is NOT detailed enough (and she has the cert herself!!). She said unless you have some anatomy, industry background and previous experience, a novice will not pass their exam. According to this director--who again not only has their cert herself, but hosted them and witnessed this again FIRSTHAND--tend to rush throught that material (as there's is an in person three-day deal).

ACE--has no practical--which is not good in my opinion--neither does ACSM, yet these (along with AFAA) have been the dominating (in Personal Training as well as Group Exercise) certs for many years and every club (I lived and taught in another state as well) regognizes them.

Practical skill demonstration is a MUST. A PT must be able to demonstrate that they know the major muscle groups AND that they can effectively communicate this to a client.

Unfortunately, every personal trainer CANNOT do this. Also (and unfortunately), every PT does not have true, SINCERE people skills. I know that this may sound ironic because one must, but ACE, ACSM do not test on these things.

AFAA, NETA and a few others DO.

Anybody who has been in the business and visits these websites doing a CAREFUL, not quick "read" will can easily spot this.

Thanks for taking these comments.

by: Versa

Certifications may not be everything I agree with you there. It is important, no matter what certificate or degree which you may hold, to update your knoweldege on a consistent basis. However, When your accredited by a top cert., the sales job is made easier, and any intelligent person will do their research on the personal trainer prior to signing up with them.


High end health club owner
by: Anonymous

Although you all say that certs aren't as important as experience, I have to disagree to a point. Experience counts for a lot, but answer this for me: Why do the ISSA and ACE trainers that come to my sports performance facility looking for work fail my interview questions, while a coach that holds the CSCS passes everytime? I base my training and my trainers on sports and human performance, not body building or show offs. Last time I checked, there wasn't a single ACE or ISSA coach in any level of college athletics.

Certs - Coaches and trainers
by: B. Murphey

As a former inside lb i can say honestly that a great sports coach and a great trainer are not similar in any fashion.Strategy and execution does not in any way transfer to performance and physical development. So perhaps in the above case the wrong questions are being asked. This why you also don't see any top collegiate coaches as top personal trainers. Real world clients are not (or looking to become) athletes. That said , a knowledge coaches is far less relevant than that of a qualified trainer.

In any case, when someone trust you to guide them in their their fitness journey they expect you to know what your talking about.When they research your credentials it's important that a respected cert body is behind your name. With the internet in almost every home your clients will eventually check you out.

I routinely get chosen over many others because I'm able to back up my assumed knowledge with solid certs. Also I encourage my clients to research my credentials and those of competing trainers.Sometimes I'm trumped. More often than not, Cert factories are weeded out and i get the client.

Currently I have PT certs under ACSM and NASM. As a final word on coaches and trainers. I have several close friends and colleges in sports medicine centers and they will tell first hand that is the coaches who are the primary source of patients - largely due to their standard practice of pushing and overtaxing the human body....only to routinely move on to the player/victim in the lineup.

just get it done
by: Anonymous

I have trained with a number of trainers, some who are certified, others not! Did it matter to me as a client where they got their certification or if they were certified. NO!! I have been training since I was in high school and really the best trainer I ever had didn't even have a certification and has been practicing for over 15 years. The best way to see who is a good trainer is by looking at thier clientelle. Are they happy? Do they look good? Are their bodies changing? And how busy is that trainer? All this junk about certification is just that... junk! People who love fitness and love what they do will always be on top of their game. Don't waste your time focusing on what certification you should go with, just get it done and train!

by: Anonymous

Quality certifications do matter.. education matters.. its not just about being fit and having experience.. If you believe this, then you are a tool... If the so called experienced "trainer" has no education be it a Bachelors or top certification, then I would question thier true passion for exercise and health. Nobody knows everything, not even PHd's let alone joe blow the gym rat posing as a trainer.. it gives us real trainers a bad name. And the sad part is people fall for it because they are slick talkers and crafty salesman. you first need the education THEN you can apply the knowledge to real world experience, then you do continuing education, then you apply some more. Responsible Certifying bodies require Continuing education classes to maintain the certification. Will joe the gym rat ever do this? or will he surf the web and magazines for his so called knowledge. This same guy will give my grandma with heart surgery, hypertenstion and herniated disks a bodybuilding split routine... does joe the gym rat know the exercises that will help her in functional life and not HURT her, or will he just be a counting machine trainer who says uhh lets do this today putting no real thought into program design. A trainer with no cert and only reads muscle and fiction magazines has no working knowledge of functional anatomy, kinesiology, nutrition etc.. I am a trainer and I would never hire any trainer for myself who didnt have a recognized cert, like NASM, ACSM, or NSCA, plus years of experience and a client list to back it up. These tests are not easy, and the passing rates are ridiculously low. dont believe me? I dare some of you so called trainers to try and self study for these certs.. Researched backed certifications like the ones i mentioned are the standard. I dont care how fit they this is not representative of what a trainer should be. I actually know some really successful trainers, one in particular, that admitted he was not certified.. I lost all respect for him as a trainer, and I truely believe he is just a con man, with a nice physique, posing as a health professional. Im sure everyone has heard stories of People posing as DRs who finally get arrested and all the patients were soo shocked and had no idea. Just because someone has a long list of clients dosent necessarily make them a good trainer either.. and just because someone has education dosent mean they will have enough personal skills to motivate an individual. Find a trainer who is educated, a nice list of clients, proven results, personal skills and in decent shape.. ONCE AGAIN eduation matters..and if you dont agree then you are indeed someone justifying not pursuing more education and you probably think your the best trainer on the block. news flash.. you suck, and you are a strain on our industry.

what ??
by: Anonymous

P.S. if your getting into training just for the money, then you really should consider another job.. I got into this for the passion and typically money follows.. I love learning knew concepts and reading the latest peer reviewed research, (not muscle and fiction) to me its worth being educated so that i may truely help people.. con men and gym rats, please stay at home, unless your willing to put in some real work to grow as a professional. And by the way, issa and nesta are a joke, ncca accrediation means nothing... you can power study and pass these tests no problem.. take nasm, nsca or acsm.. then and only then can you pass judgement saying all certs are the same..

A different reason why a PT cert matters
by: JC

Hello. I added my first comment here about year ago (spring 2008). As I have followed the updates, I want to add an additional comment.
Since these posts have no date, today's date is June 18, 2009.

Some say certs matter, some say they don't--just look at the trainer's results and their clientle following.

One aspect that either I did not see addressed in this forum or I may have overlooked is the liability issue as it relates to personal trainers.

Example: I am an experienced trainer with a solid following. I am not certified. I train someone and under my supervision, they become injured. Who is liable for that injury?

Me as the trainer? The gym or club that employed me?

The answer is possiblity BOTH.

With my 15 years in Group Exercise and 4 as a Certified Personal trainer, I would not take the risk of hiring a trainer that DOES NOT have their personal training certification. They should also have their AED/CPR.

Even before I was involved in the fitness industry, I hired CERTIFIED trainers for that purpose.

So the challenge is: As an uncertified trainer, do you want to take that risk?

As a Fitness Director, Personal Training Director, do you want to take the risk of hiring an uncertified "professional?"

Last, but not least and most important, if any clients, customers, or potential clients are monitoring these posts, would you really want someone who is uncertified--no matter how much experience they have--setting a fitness plan up for you?

What would you do IF you get injured while you are training?

It's no joke, people. Think about it and consider it. Thanks for listening.

I love the ISSA!
by: Barton Waldon, CFT, SFN

They are the only federally accredited personal training certification, and allow you to study at home with a large selection of certifications! In my opinion the ISSA has set the highest standards with their new Elite and Master certification programs, each requiring you to get 3 certifications fr Elite along with a Elite exam, or 6 certifications for the Masters with 2 Elite exams covering all 6. I've received both of my certifications from ISSA and although they are untimed and open book, they are so long and hard they basically force you to re-read the book all over again. My CFT exam was about 260 multiple choice, along with 6 essays( 12 pages of typed essays) and 2 case studies ( 6 pages of typed case studies). BUT that does not mean I'm a better trainer than someone with an ACE, or ACSM certification. It ALL depends on the person and how much they APPLY what they have learned to their practices. I think all of the Nationally Accredited certifications are all great and should not be "debated" so much. Pick the certification that BEST fits your personality and goals. I'm so glad I picked the ISSA because their support for you is incredible and the flexibility of studying is great! My advice for EVERYONE is to get as MANY certifications as POSSIBLE! On my second certification I've learned SO much I did not know before and I'm really grateful for taking another one. Do the extra work! And set yourself apart from EVERY other trainer!

Certifications...not really
by: Anonymous

I would say it's the person and what they know, no certification is really needed. I've seen some who weren't worth a damn who held top notch certifications. I've worked with some who had hands-on training and been in the fitness industry most of their lives, no certs. mainly military trained. I would hire someone who has miliary training vs someone who has just sat in a classroom did a few practicals and then received a piece of paper.

I see a lot of these trainers get their certs. go to work at a gym and spend more time admiring themselves and worry about what they look like in the mirror and not pay any attention to the client. People skills are a must and most of these young adults, thanks to computers and texting, have no people skills and wonder why no one hires them even though they have this cert. they spend 8 months studying for and are out $700.

Talk is cheap, action will always speak louder than words, I don't care what your cert. is or even if you have one, I'm for results, I start seeing them and your attitude is great, you're hired!

Amen Brother!
by: Mark Jackson

Let me start out by saying I am the owner and instructor for a Personal Training School in Austin, Texas. You are very correct! Certs are a piece of paper..that's it! It kills me to hear people tell me how much experience one must have because they read a book and took a test. You will find out how good you are when you start working in the gym. It is about passion. Yes, understanding nutrition, biomechanics, nutrition, special pops..etc is great and you do need education but to jump on one cert as better than the other is like you said...funny! All of these certs are still ONLINE CERTS! No form of hands on required to call yourself a trainer. I know guys with ISSA(which most gyms do NOT accept anymore in Texas) who are incredible trainers and making 60k plus. I know NSCA trainers who are now working the front desk of gyms. Point is if you can understand the material and put it to use and have the right personality then I believe an online cert can work. But if you need more, then a school like mine or npti or a college course should really prepare you more than anything you are going to get online. I am not here trying to promote my school so I won't even mention the name but I will ask this..Would you go to a doctor with an online cert? A dentist? A massage therapist? Heck, I wouldn't even get my hair cut by someone who got their cert online. BTW I do have NSCA and NASM as well but only because it looks good on

Hands on Experience is the Most Important.
by: JSteven

While certain certifications look great on paper, that's all they are.. paper. Paper won't help you build muscle, get in shape or live a healthier life, but hands on experience and classroom learning will. I always advise a collegiate program or specialized training school like National Personal Training Institute.

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