Choosing The Fitness Certification That’s Right For You


With so many options available these days, I hear from a lot of instructors about the overwhelming decision of which training(s) to take. The prevalent question among those that are new to the industry is usually more focused on whether to invest in any teacher training at all.

In order to navigate this conversation it’s important to have a baseline understanding of the two main categories of certifications: General Exercise Certifications and Specialty Certifications.

General Exercise/Fitness Certifications

If you’ve ever heard of organizations like the American Council on Exercise (ACE), Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) or National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) you know that they are well known and reputed for Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certifications (called “certs” in the biz), among other things (more on those later). These organizations offer an excellent grounding in the mechanics of the body that apply across all mediums of fitness, as well as commonly used fitness terminology. Having a General Exercise Cert does not equip a trainer to teach a choreographed program, but assists trainers in making sure whatever method taught is taught safely, effectively, and with intention, in keeping with kinesiology basics. The safety of participants should always be a trainer’s #1 priority and a general certification through ACE, AFAA, or NASM is the first step unless you have a degree in exercise science or a related field.

Specialty Certifications/Training

Here is where it gets murky… Specialty Training includes programs such as Zumba, Barre, FXP Fitness Hula Hoop, Les Mills, Yoga, Pilates, Beach Body, and on and on and on endlessly. Each of these programs takes information about how the body works (kinesiology) and creates a unique workout experience that is safe and effective, while catering to the preferences of its participants. Many of the organizations that provide General Certs also offer Specialty Training — though the options in the specialty category alone are seemingly endless.

We believe a General Cert is a necessity. Beyond that, how do you sift through all of the Specialty Training options? Not every program will be right for you. If someone tells you their program is better than any out there — just smile, nod, and do your own research. Avoid companies with a reputation for looking down at other specialty programs. But what should you look for? Knowing what questions to ask can be nearly as overwhelming as choosing a program. I want to make this easy for you — below are some questions I ask when investigating a training program:

· What is my philosophy about fitness?

· How many trainers in my area already offer this type of class?

· Is the training recognized by reputable organizations (like ACE, AFAA, etc.)?

· How long is the certificate good for?

· How do I renew my certificate?

· What kind of trainer support will I get from the company?

· When I correspond with the company, how responsive are they? Are they eager to help?

· How much does the training cost?

· Is a membership/licensing fee required beyond my original certification? If so, what are they?

· What are the benefits of membership?

· Is there still a value without membership?

· What, if any, costs are associated with canceling my membership?

· What investment, if any, do I need to make in equipment?

Every program is not right for you; but there is at least one out there that is perfect for you! If you take just one nugget from reading this, it’s that you should never feel pressured into taking a specific training because of someone else. Choose the program/company that resonates with you, the one you are excited about and the one that fits your needs! When you find “your” program, you will love teaching, your clients will love coming to you and you’ll have a thriving business!

Written By Kristin Benton. 1/8/15

Kristin Benton is Senior Vice President of Operations for FXP® Fitness (www.fxpfitness.com). Learn More and Connect on Facebook or LinkedIn.