There are several paths you can take to become a Personal Fitness Trainer. The first is to seek a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology or a related field and, depending on your goals, then pursue a Master’s Degree.
Personal Trainer Certificate Programs
But the quickest, and least expensive, path to becoming a trainer is to earn a Florida personal training certification from one or many of the organizations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
The NCCA was the first organization to offer accreditation in the fitness industry as a way to ensure the public’s health, safety and welfare. It also assures you, as a trainer, that your certification will be nationally recognized by most gyms and fitness centers.
The 7 NCCA Accredited Personal Trainer Certification Programs:
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
American Council on Exercise (ACE)
National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF)
National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)
National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)
Where to Start?
Before enrolling in any Personal Training Certificate Program, you will be required to have a current CPR Certification. Although a basic Adult, Child and Infant CPR class is okay, the majority of gyms and fitness centers are now requiring trainers to get certified in the American Heart Association’s Healthcare Provider CPR.
Aside from learning more advanced lifesaving techniques, the major benefit of earning the Healthcare Provider Certification is that you only have to renew once every two years as opposed to every year for basic Adult, Child and Infant CPR. For more information on CPR Certification, contact the American Heart Association.
Which Certification Should I Earn?
Choosing the Personal Trainer Certification Program that’s right for you may seem a bit overwhelming, but that task is now much easier thanks to the website: Starting a Personal Training Business–8 Simple Steps to Success. The site profiles each of the NCCA Programs and compares prices, difficulty levels, industry recognition and more.
However, not all NCCA Accredited programs are created equal. According to Robert Lathan, the Fitness Manager for 24 Hour Fitness, Lakeshore Towers in Irvine, California,
“We look at a few certifications. NCSM is one, ACSM and NSCA are others.” But when asked about ACE, Lathan replied, “We don’t look at ACE that highly anymore because it doesn’t focus much on program design.”
When in doubt, call the gyms in your area and talk to the Fitness Directors or Fitness Managers about which Certifications they prefer.
How Many Certifications Are Really Needed?
Most gyms require a minimum of one national certification, but often prefer two. Some, like the YMCA, even have their own Personal Fitness Trainer Certification program.
Got the Cert, Now What?
Before you set out on your own, it’s crucial to gain experience and confidence working or interning in a gym, fitness center or physical therapy office where more experienced trainers can act as mentors. If it’s hard to get a job in one of the bigger gyms, try looking for work at community recreation centers or the local YMCA, both of which offer supportive environments in which to learn while building your resume.
Also, specialize in one or two areas such as weight loss, sports-specific training or working with seniors. Then pursue continuing education classes, additional certifications, attend fitness conferences and strive to become an expert in your specialty.
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