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Personal Trainer Certification: Why Skills Training Matters

Not all personal trainer certification programs are alike.

Imagine needing emergency surgery to have your appendix removed. The hospital staff assures you that the attending surgeon has a degree from a prestigious Ivy League school, which happens to be the alma mater of the hospital’s surgical director. You feel at ease as the anesthesiologist prepares your IV. But just as you’re getting drowsy, the nurse comments that your procedure will be the doctor’s very first foray into the operating room, since he earned his degree online. 

Of course, this scenario is unlikely — although not totally unheard of — in the medical arena. Surgeons go through years of study, practical skills training and supervised practice before they are allowed to take the lead in a major operation. Sadly, that is often not the case with personal training. 

Personal Trainer Key Skills

Many people think that a personal trainer’s only job duties are to teach exercise, preach about nutrition and keep clients motivated. But a personal trainer’s key skills encompass much, much more. 

Here are just a handful of important personal trainer skills that require hands-on learning:

  • Record keeping and business management: Personal trainers have a lot of information to keep track of: client records, progress charts, workouts, account history and much more! Most certification programs fail to touch on this.
  • Conducting and interpreting each client’s health history: Personal training clients come to us with a plethora of health conditions and a broad range of medications. It is essential that you are able to ask the right questions and know how to interpret and use this information to protect your client and yourself. 
  • Measuring and monitoring vital statistics: It is impossible to accurately measure heart rate and blood pressure without hands-on experience, with a variety of different subjects. Online certification programs cannot help you with this.
  • Conducting standardized fitness assessments: Standardized fitness assessments for strength, endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness give us a baseline against which we can measure our clients’ progress. This is another skill that requires hands-on practice and experience, which you cannot get online. 
  • Personalized goal-specific client programming: The secret to becoming a successful personal trainer is being able to help your clients reach and exceed their goals. Learning the basics of goal-oriented programming is an essential skill that requires hands-on practice.
  • Teaching proper exercise form and execution: There is a lot more to an effective exercise program than picking up weights and putting them down again. As trainers, we need to cue our clients on correct alignment and perfect execution, to prevent injury and attain desired results. 
  • Injury prevention and management:  Any type of physical activity comes with inherent risks. As a trainer, it is your job to teach your clients to exercise safely, and to provide guidance and support throughout each session. These are hands-on skills that cannot be learned from a textbook or video. 
  • Lifestyle counseling: Every client brings their own unique lifestyle history to the table. As trainers, we work with our clients to identify negative lifestyle behaviors and help them make better choices. Role playing gives you essential skills for communicating with your clients, in ways that help them evolve, without making them feel judged. 

How to Get Skills Training 

Sadly, the majority of certification programs do not equip you to apply practical skills as a trainer.  Most are self-study programs that certify you once you pass a written online test. Imagine walking into your new personal trainer job, being assigned a client on your first day, and not having a clue about how to proceed. 

Imagine walking into your new personal trainer job, being assigned a client on your first day, and not having a clue about how to proceed. 

Busy studios and big box gyms provide minimal training for new hires. They most often throw you into the fray, and let you sink or swim. As you can imagine, this leads to high turnover and a lot of discouraged and disillusioned trainers who spent their hard-earned money to get certified. It also leads to dissatisfied clients, and hurts our industry as a whole. 

World Instructor Training Schools is the only certification program that teaches and conducts research-based testing for personal trainer practical skills. 

Skills Training for Personal Trainers

If you are serious about building a successful and sustainable fitness career, don’t cut corners on your certification. Get the support, knowledge and hands-on experience you need to succeed with a fitness certification from W.I.T.S.

Advantages of a W.I.T.S. certification include: 

  • Fully NCCA accredited: The only practical skills competency exam in the industry, along with our written exam!
  • Recognized by employers nation-wide: Graduates who perform!
  • Available in colleges, universities and online
  • Taught by qualified and experienced industry professionals
  • Internship program available to cement your skills
  • Friendly customer service and supportOnline continuing education at your fingertips

Join the W.I.T.S. family of industry leaders today, and build your fitness career on a solid foundation.

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One thought on “Personal Trainer Certification: Why Skills Training Matters

  1. My first experience in the field was during an internship in NYC. I worked alongside Exercise Physiologists. We performed a health history, sub max performance test, took circumference measurements and body fat, received goals, set up exercise programs, took regular heart rates and blood pressures before – during – and after exercise, scheduled regular re-test appointments, received dietary programs, monitored floor activity and provided changes when appropriate. I have always felt that this training has aided me into matter where I worked. Most people have little or not training in this area.

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