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Benefits of Getting a Degree

by Tim Lord
(Columbus Indiana (soon Tampa area))

I have been in the fitness business for 30 years and I will tell you, flat out, that a degree from a university, followed with instructional licensing is by far the best. Whatever certification you throw at me, keep in mind, you take weeks or months to study for and test out.
With a BS, or a MA degree, you take YEARS, of study, preparation, and you have to take college level courses in your area every 6 years to keep it.

With a Masters, such as I have in anatomy and Kiniesiology, and an instructional license , I can train, teach, AND teach the classes you need to get a PT certification. I had to do a dissertation of advanced studyfor this degree. All told, I have 10 YEARS in studying advanced fitness courses.

So, in my opinion, the BEST , trainers are college educated, with advanced degrees in their field of fitness--and that is the ONLYWAY YOU CAN EVER CALL YOURSELF AN "EXPERT".

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Benefits of Getting a Degree
by: Your Personal Gym

I totally agree with the previous post.
A BS or MS plus a nationaly recognized certification i.e. ACSM is by far the best route to take.
I have a MS in Kinesiology and my ACSM cert and 10 yrs of exerience.
The education plus national cert will seperate you from other trainers with just a cert like ACE.

by: Anonymous

I find it apalling that you would minimize or discredit the training and certification of other professionals in your field simply because you paid an exorbitant amount of money to get your education. I have a four year degree in Mechanical Engineering yet I have been a personal trainer for the past 15 years. I can honestly say that I am more knowledgable on personal training than anything else in my life. Your assertation that a degree in kinesiology or exercise science makes you a better personal trainer is biased nothing more than your opinion. I would agree with your statement if we were talking about credited colleges and Universities who specialized in Exercise Science. But to say that your 4 year degree from your community college, taught by teachers with a total of 20 years experience, is better than my 3 certifications, taught by 3 institutions with over 75 years experience, is a joke. Wake up and get off your high horse!!

Degree or Not Degree
by: John J. Farley, MA PsyD, CH

I co-founded the Optimal Performance Institute in part to reverse a questionable trend. That trend, which started nearly two decades ago, is certification instead of a degree in the field.

Today more personal fitness trainers are certified than are degreed. Certifications are excellent supplements to degrees. Just as vitamin-mineral supplements are excellent supporters of a great diet.

Without a proper diet, supplements are still helpful for health, but supplements do not provide all the necessary nutrients for health. Similarly certifications supplement a degree.

Many lawyers who have spent many years in school have earned degrees - doctorates nonetheless - and they get a certification in fitness and switch fields. I do not believe that they need a degree in exercise or nutrition. They have the brains to learn fitness and nutrition at a level to serve their clients well. However, there is one caveat:

If they want to be perceived as an EXPERT as the original post stated, then a person with a bachelor's degree or higher should pursue a master's in the field. This way the person is well credentialed to be perceived as an expert.

The Optimal Performance Institute, and other schools that grant degrees in the field, are useful for those that are looking for the edge in their career. Today, the edge matters.

At the end of the day, a person with a degree, a certification and experience will have their choice of employment opportunities. Add to those a big Roladex of contacts and the sky is the limit. The question to ask is, "do I want to be perceived as an expert?"

are you kidding lol
by: Anonymous

Please tell me you are kidding! Are we forgetting about hands on experience! All the education in the world has to be applied to the client! I cannot tell you how many time owners are so frustrated with educated instructors with no passion, no real life common sense, not enough experience! I agree education is important but it has to be geared toward your job! You see the problem is the classroom cannot teach you everything about training like other jobs! Some things must be learned outside the classroom! I think some of you guys have been in school too long! Lol

Interesting Points
by: Dan

All of the aforementioned present valuable ideas and reasons for his or her personal beliefs on what is best. As a USTA, USCF, and NORBA athlete it is important to understand your market and what your own goals are as a trainer.

College adds value, but only to the extent of your mission as a trainer/coach. What I mean by this is that if you view your work as “business” with no heartfelt regard for seeing your client personally succeed in their fitness goals; then perhaps your degree should be in a different arena.

Keep in mind that your clients (typically) have no idea the difference ACSM, ACE, Kinesiology. The client does care about the results, and possibly the cost. In the end, if you are delivering a successful product to your client, then celebrate the client’s success first and leave the big words for someone else.

future client of a personal trainer
by: Anonymous

I'm not a personal trainer nor do I have a college degree but I know the difference between a bachelors degree and a certification program. As a client seeking advice on fitness and nutrition I'm looking for someone who first and foremost has achieved and seems to be living the level of health and fitness I desire. Second to that I would definitely choose a personal trainer with a degree over one with a mere certification. If all I wanted was for someone to show me the mechanics and proper form of an exercise and put me on a low cal diet I wouldn't care much about their educational background. As a consumer more concerned with health than vanity I'd prefer to take my advice from someone more educated. Not to say a person without a degree is not capable of achieving the same level of expertise through independent study and personal experience, the chances are less likely.

by: Jeff

If you are going to go to college only to come out to make $30,000.00 a yr., thats a HUGE waste of money! The WHOLE point of going to college is to get a realy good paying job!!! If you are physically incapable of performing ANY type of exercise or movement, the individual does NOT Belong in a gym! Period! NO Personal Trainer, or COLLEGE education can fix that! The individual must be under the direction of a Dr.! Physical exercise and Nutrition is a LIFESTYLE and Passion which cannot be taught in a classroom! IF YOU DO NOT! look like you exercise, you will not be successful. Skinny or Thin DOES NOT!, mean you are in shape! Some of the most educated people in the world lack COMMON SENSE.

Live it rather than study it
by: Anonymous

For some that wants to be "serious" about training other people then it would sound right to get a college degree. For those that simply say - "You are NOT an EXPERT unless you have a degree", then you are doing nothing more than justifying your costly education to yourself. Its complete bull$hit.

The single most important thing in PERSONAL TRAINING is to have demonstrate and clearly have lived the life in training yourself. You aren't TALKING about lifting weights and working out and eating right. You are PHYSICALLY showing someone how to do it themselves. If you aren't in shape yourself then how the hell do you presume to tell someone else how to get into shape? It's like a broke person telling someone else how to make money. You have to live the life first.

Sure, if you PRACTICE what you preach AND have the degree then you are in a better spot than someone that just practices but to say that a degree is what defines an expert is just stupid.

You can study, learn and educate yourself about BICYCLE RACING till you are blue in the face, with double PHDs and 120k in debt and someone like Lance Armstrong is going to blow you away about "teaching how to race a bike".

I'm sorry but the steps to successful training don't start in a classroom sitting on your a$$. It begins by actually training... The mechanics of a good push-up are better taught by someone that has done 40,000 of them rather than someone that spent 6yrs "reading about the mechanics of a push-up".

Degrees of Fitness, Degrees of Education
by: Rowan Hill, LMT

Caveat Emptor (Let the buyer beware!) Quality is not always standardized!

I am a licensed massage therapist with the state of Florida and a certified personal trainer as well as an "Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist" with Ace.

The crux of the matter, in my humble opinion, is that education should continue for anyone in any field in order to stay at the top of one's field.

I have an associate's degree and 10 years of experience as a massage therapist as a post-rehab oriented personal trainer. I work in conjunction with a team of physical and occupational therapists. Together, we all bring our knowldege, passion and compassion to bear for each client.

Trainers without advanced degrees (such as myself) are best to not attempt to discredit the education of other trainers who have advanced degrees. That being said, there are trainers without advanced degrees who are competent, caring and capable. My personal opinion is that it would be best to require degrees to establish adherence to a "higher" minimum standard than the industry currently mandates.

In any case, if you are a trainer, you have the opportunity to make a huge impact in the lives of others. Get the knowledge (through any ethical means) to BE YOUR BEST!

If you're passionate, you should be educated...
by: Anonymous

The argument of being a good personal trainer having more to do with passion for healthy living and passing that on to others is very valid and absolutely true. However, if it's a true passion, and you want to share that passion with other for a living, you better have put in the time in the classroom, been humble enough to get a top tier certification, and diligent and passionate enough to live the lifestyle yourself.

As a club owner, I will NOT hire anyone without a degree, NCCA accredited cert, and a clearly visible passion for helping others be healthy.

Expert -vs- Specialist - Big differences
by: Tom S

I agree with Mr. Lord on his post. You see, in the fitness world, I am seeing many folks use the word "EXPERT", so if folks comment on Mr. Lord's post and challenge him on the word Expert, lets take a look at some things.

1. Websters or Wikipedia state 10yrs or 10,000hrs in a particular field to be called an expert.

2. Expert is suppose to be the best at their job, craft, or what they do

3. When we think of going to an expert on learning something or doing something, we have to look at their "credentials" and "creditability"

4. A big difference between "expert" and a "specialist" many pesonal trainers or fitness folks are "specialists", but not eveveryone has the ability to call themselves "experts"

Now with this said, lets look at the other factors needed to be successful or a quality PT or Fitness Expert.

1. Motivator
2. Leader
3. Interpersonal Communication
4. Intelligence Level
5. Common Sense or Ability to think outside box
6. Understanding human physche
7. Management
8. Marketing
9. Business savvy
10. If all else fails, be able to love what you do and love HELPING PEOPLE.

These are just some of the things I personally learned in the military as a Sergeant and as a Army Master Fitness Trainer.

So, in a way, everyone has a point in their comments, but if we have to stick to Mr. Lord's main argument in his post, he is right and one would follow this logical progression to be an expert in fitness:

1. Advance Degree in Exercise Phys. or Science
2. Then top Cert like NASM, ACSM, NSCA, or ACE
3. Experience in the field of health and fitness
4. Ability to work with and help people motivating them to achieve their overall health and fitness goals.

Tom S
Army Master Fitness Trainer/Group Leader

Hope you all enjoy my comments.

Who "knows" best?
by: Anonymous

The way I see it, you can have a self-taught ignoramus who has spent years teaching himself by experience (and self-study) how to get in shape. So this guy can teach a person how to get in shape. But darn it, they never learnt da fancy names of every body part, movement, muscle, and kinetic process. They just get results!

The fresh-out-of-college guy knows a lot of theory, but has no experience. He may (or may not) know how to get that same person in to shape like the person with all the experience, but at least this guy will know all the fancy names for everything and can really impress you with useless college-speak.

The first guy wins. But say they both can get you in shape, then it's about edge. It's like choosing between hiring two people who are complete equals in performance, but choosing the guy with the nicer car for no other reason than his car is nicer.

A career doesn't start and stop with a certification anyway, this isn't "certification versus degree". Of course there is more study in a degree program. I would hope these people never STOP learning, buying books, trying new techniques on themselves and clients, learning from those in the field longer, pursuing more degrees and educating, challenging themselves to get better etc etc.... And if a person does do that, they are easily as competent as any degreed person. And if the degreed person gets through paying 10s of thousands and finally passes the final exams, and afterword sits on that trophy or puts it on like a crown, thinking they've achieved absolute knowledge and wisdom, they'd be lying to themselves, I'd rather have the first guy. Neither can STOP educating themselves, and neither can really think what they know is the absolute truth. The pride level of college grads goes sky-high. Not to mention how they will ALWAYS think they are better than anybody and everybody who are not degreed, or haven't spent as much or more money. The only person smarter than then can be a person who spent more money and time. But certainly not the lowly certified guy with 20 years experience and a library of research in the living room. He didn't pay very much for his education, so it must not be as valid. To that all-to-prevalent college mentality I say SCREW YOU!

I can be online, following the pros, reading the latest science, and learn more and be more on top of the field, than the class-rat mulling over 8 year old dusty textbooks and listening to a prof who is so busy teaching the same 15 year old information because they never have time to research or experiment with new knowledge.

I guess it all balances out in the end, clients want what works, and don't care a plug nickel what school you went to or how much it cost to get the paper on your wall. They just want to know you'll help them succeed.

the reality is different
by: Anonymous

In terms of knowledge, you can say you know more(quantity). You can allege being able to deliver a better result to a client... in practise doesn't work like that. I know many and many of other certified PTs that say the same about clients wanting to stay for from those 'super' nerds from college.
Another reason why Personal Trainers are being trained in courses such ACSM etc... is because these courses offer the essential knowledge to help the crow to have a better health. The courses are out there for a reason.
By the way, there plenty of trainers in the market that are making 6 even 7 figures and have not ever stepped into a university.
Discrediting here is just your poorly self cocky opinion.

by: Anonymous

Someone has a complex....

We All Know What Happens In College
by: Anonymous

I can understand the comments about undereducated "trainers" at chain gyms and agree that they can sometimes tarnish the image of the occupation.
I can also understand why some people desire to assert their superiority in a given field based on their possession of a 'degree'. But, that desire should, under normal circumstances, disappear once they enter the real world. The world where college grads with their "degrees" in hand and cocky swagger are given entry level positions where they are slowly able to learn that their little piece of paper is little more than a receipt. I bootstrapped my own private business school education. I know what I did and didn't learn in college and I know exactly how much of it applies to what myself and my colleagues are doing now in the industry. Minimal. Before you go touting the prestige of a 'college degree', be sure you don't sound like a high school guidance counselor from 1968.

The Bottom Line
by: Anonymous

The Bottom Line is simply this that a personal trainer is hired to make results happen for clients. You don't need an education to help someone achieve results. Bottom line is your more of an operations manager type person as a personal trainer and this is not suppose to be an expert position. If you have a degree you have gained knowledge but once your out of school you must continue to learn and learn, just like the personal trainer that never got a degree but is learning knowledge everyday to help clients become successful at reaching new heights in their health and fitness life.

If you can come up with a good nutritional plan that is fun for people, fits their particular lifestyle, educated them on plenty of rest and water, incorporate meaningful workouts and if you have the ability to push people to get more out of their workouts than they could expect from themselves and are friendly and down to earth, then you will be a instant success. Bottom line is if you look great and feel great, why not chose that person to train you.

by: Athena Lara

Im a pro fitness athlete and want to learn more about this, academically. To land the discussion on prcatical terms.



WHAT IS THE MOST COMPLETE DEGREE? - Kinesiology or : Nutrition, isnt there one that mixes that?

Thanks for the adviise!!!!!!!!!!

ha ha ha haaaa
by: courtellis

Hey the best way is to keep your certs up, if you want to go to school go ahead, if not just continue on the track you are already on. Your skills whether you are collegian or home study will shine through either way. You clients results and what they say about you will be the biggest factor!! That is whether you have you own business or work at the local gym!! After allevery last poster on here has made very good points....but really we all want what is best for our clients, that's how we keep ourselves employed!!

Court Ellis
Bachelor Science Health Science

great information
by: Anonymous

Great opinions and it is nice to know that so many are actually passionate about their career and not just trying to make a paycheck. I am currently a Junior in college studying Kin and in my opinion I think a degree really separates those who want a career from those who want a career in personal training. Yes college involves jumping through a lot of hoops and playing by university rules, but at the end of your education you know that you really did work your ass off and, at least in my case, are extremely ready to test your knowledge in a clinical setting.

Degree vs Cert
by: Anonymous

I'm sorry to say this but to whom ever thinks that a degree isn't better than a certification then you are poorly mistaken. I have spent 4 long years devoted to the study of exercise(along with a 300 hour internship) and it's many areas, and for you to say that you are more knowledgeable in the field than I am. You are flat out wrong... There is a problem in the industry and it is that so many people get their certification and then feel that they know everything or are on the same level as someone with a bachelors degree... That's not so. 4 years of dedication and study vs 3 months of reading a study guide. You do the math and tell me who better understands exercise. You may have more hands on experience vs my degree but do you truly understand the principles you teach. Some trainers fall into this category others don't, but to truly teach someone something you must understand it yourself inside and out. At the end of the day it is like many have said if you can get your client to succeed than that's all that matters, but DONT'T discredited the hard earned hours I spent to get my degree by saying that a person with a certification is on par because that's just not the case...

by: Twisted steel and Sex appeal

You guys are comparing apples to oranges.
If you take two people that know absolutely nothing about working out and have never set foot in a gym and one gets a certification and one gets a degree i dont think there is any question who is more qualified. But the reality is, many people that get there certifications have been in the fitness culture and hitting the gym relentlessly for years.
They love fitness, its there passion and they love to read all the new books and to do research.
Its more than the fact that they "just had to pick a major".
Also they are not as afraid to change when new research comes out as someone with a degree usually is because there so high up on there horse.
Oh Whats that? you spent 4 years in college?
Wow thats impressive!
I havnt missed more than 3 consecutive days in the gym in 13 years! And i can bench press your professor's car.
I dont need to spend $40,000 to prove i know what im doing, my physic says it for me!

Look at them now..
by: Anonymous

I'm not here to take sides; all I'm going to say is that many of the top hardcore trainers that are making upwards 6 figures today don't really credit certifications or degrees. They may have them, yes, but nothing replaces the fact that they have implemented trial and error into their own fitness plan and others. This field is still widely underdeveloped. Read Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe (

its all confusing.

One commenter stated he would not hire someone without a degree and certtification. Why would someone need a certification if they had a Phd or Masters degree in exercise or kinseology, and had been a collegiate or pro athlete, and numerous years of experience in training. Just goes to show you that all we are about, is a paper saying you are something special. There are individuals with advanced degrees in the field of fitness and have never stepped foot on an athletic field, or competed in bodybuilding, or any other sport. What makes them more qualified. you cannot jugde people on how much money they spent for there certifications or degrees. its all about knowledge and experience. I personally know people who would have never gotten their degrees, if someone did not take one or two classes for them. They are very successful in their fields, and are very recognized in the industry of fitness and education. Many so called experts are also very impressed with their knowledge of their fields,and their success rates. So I guess because they cheated in one class, its all over for them.

Get real this is the real world. Money can buy you anything.


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