It's always a touchy subject to start talking about this, but I thought I'd take a whirl.
In the fitness world, there's so much opinion-based work out there, that it's really difficult to quantify one's merit based on what school of thought they follow -- it has to be based on their hands-on abilities as a trainer. Now, it doesn't take too much to be able to get basic, standard certification as a trainer and learn to keep a grown adult with zero gym knowledge safe in an exercise environment. It's no secret that there are weekend certifications out there that do just that.
The grey area exists, however, when trainers begin to get labelled of their worth directly based on their qualifications, and nothing more. This is seen often in both the workplace, and in the eyes of the general public.
This mentality can give a lot of good guys the shaft when it comes to getting employment or moving up in a world of employment. Many up and coming trainers who know their stuff can be corralled to the sidelines of the job (or not even get hired at all) based on the sole fact that they haven't attained certain qualifications that many deem as "staples" to grant them merit. To many workplaces (especially more high-end ones), a college degree or diploma is a prerequisite before even landing an interview to be considered as a personal trainer.
My question: Why? I'm not one to knock the benefits of university. During my time spent in university, I attended classes in anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics that tremendously helped my initial knowledge base when it came to the world of personal training. On that note, I also attended classes in Self, Culture and Society, Geography, Music, and Humanities that had absolutely no carryover to what I wanted to do with my life. Because schools are businesses too, they're not going to hesitate to require students to take all such courses to be "well rounded" in pursuing their academic degree.
Now, I understand that the elite clubs need something to differentiate themselves from other box gym clubs that hire just about anyone off the street. So typical thinking would lead an employer to set a standard for minimum credentials attained. I get it. But, why not consider letting your differentiating factor be the actual levels of hands-on competency and result-based proficiency that said trainers have as part of your company? Training is just...well...one of those industries.
Every personal trainer's first sessions with clients will always be terrible. There's just too much practical experience, anecdote, and time spent in the game yet to be attained before skills can be developed. That's something your in-class schooling can mildly affect, but not dictate. Unfortunately, in this industry, lack of degrees or certain certifications sometimes can bar very competent individuals from receiving promotions or raises, regardless of how many years of experience and industry-specific accomplishments they may have achieved. Sad story.
The Public Eye
The fact of the matter is this: The everlasting dominant crowd of people who will NEED personal training as more than just a luxury are the middle-aged and older crowd of this generation. Chronic pain, muscle imbalances, the growing reliance on general strength, functional mobility, and flexibility are but a few reasons why. On top of this, this group of people doubles as a population who can generally afford to make something like personal training a part of their lives. They're more established in their careers, make good money, and have earned a comfortable living over time. They're not prepared to pick up and move to a different city, go career hunting, or make another major life change. Since personal training generally caters to this crowd of people, it's important for companies to hear what they think about what makes a good personal trainer.
See, if this were an excel program, there would be a lot of "if" statements to embed in the coding. If the public are successful themselves, then chances are they're in a career where a degree in their field may have had much more relevance or been a direct prerequisite to what they needed to learn next. (i.e. Law school, getting your M.B.A, etc). They may then place a further importance in doing so in the training world to be a legitimate trainer, and blindly follow even the greenest of trainers if they have that credential on paper. If the clientele are in an older category, say my parents' age -- late 50s and early 60s respectively, then regardless of their upbringing or background, they very likely may have adopted the mentality that a degree or continued education is the be-all and end-all to "making it" in society from a secular perspective. It's an old-school mentality that most old-schoolers can't shake, despite looking at numerous accounts that may not prove otherwise, but definitely allude to the fact that it's not quite as black and white as it seems.
The truth, in my opinion, is that the opinion of the workplace is based on the opinion of the public eye. Let's put it all together. People in fitness often want to build companies that generally cater to an elite, private clientele. Such a company (and most others) will want to put their clients' needs and demands first. That means that company's elite, private trainers for this clientele will need to be up to the clientele's standards.
Elite clientele in MY city will tend to fit the description I listed above. A bit older, lucrative, and well off. Their idea of a trainer, in general, will have nothing to do with the components of their actual training ability. Much rather, it'll have to do with how "qualified" he is, and where he "went to school for this."
The funny thing is, most employers to whom this conversation topic is raised will agree with my line of thinking, namely, it's not about the certs or degrees, but about the experience and practical application of foundations of personal training as they're found specific to each client on a case by case basis. The great majority of that is something school just can't teach. Unfortunately, they have to jump ship and join the machine that simply perpetuates the same erroneous thinking that exists in this industry today.
My take home points are these: Firstly, to the clients -- think critically when it comes to hiring a personal trainer. Credentials are good for some things, but not all things, and insightful knowledge into the demands of this industry will be huge keys for warranting whether a prospective trainer's skills actually deem him fit to work with you.
To the trainers -- if the road to academia is what you feel is the right avenue for you, by all means, put the pedal to the metal. But don't feel too badly if you lack school-based education. Sure, in some cases it means not spending quite as much intensive time into deep rooted studies of very industry-specific foundations. But in other cases, it means you haven't put thousands of dollars into learning the opinions and perspectives of others. This industry is truly unique because your success in it solely depends on what YOU put into it -- and that includes attaining practical knowledge that can help you and your clients.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Rather than nursing a drink sitting down, belly up to the bar, or grab dinner at a high table with bar stools. <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20534367_4,00.html" target="_hplink">Leaning against a high stool</a> is a step up from sitting, but can be more comfy than standing all night, <em>Health</em> magazine reported.
This old-timey favorite is fun for kids and adults alike, and can burn 100 calories in just 30 minutes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/machineisorganic/6740536715/" target="_hplink">Machine is Organic</a></em>
You don't have to be Michael Phelps to get a water workout. Even some leisurely splashing around can shave off 200 calories, and it's a great way to stay cool in the heat, too! <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/311692139/" target="_hplink">Joe Shlabotnik</a></em>
Instead of just lounging on the sand working on your tan, get up and move around if you're at the beach this weekend. Bonus: Digging in the sand can be a surprisingly <a href="http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/great-summer-workouts?page=3" target="_hplink">good workout for abs and obliques</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/donhomer/7200149722/" target="_hplink">Michael Bentley</a></em>
Let the music move you when you're out on Saturday night. A little boogying can burn 150 calories in just 30 minutes.
You're not chained to that park bench! If you're already enjoying the outdoors, why not throw around a Frisbee or a football, pass a volleyball or kick a soccer ball? It doesn't have to be strenuous -- you don't even have to be any good! -- but it will get you up and moving. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/458811240/" target="_hplink">Elvert Barnes</a></em>
If you've got a date night planned this weekend, skip dinner and a movie in favor of something that gets you off your rears. It doesn't have to be a trip to the gym or a jog -- it can be anything active you like doing together. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/7283892652/" target="_hplink">Tobyotter</a></em>
Many local parks, rivers and lakes have row boats, canoes or kayaks available for rent. No matter your vessel of choice, it's a fun, seasonal way to burn some serious calories. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/inner-eye-photo/6849944748/" target="_hplink">Josh Hawley</a></em>
During the busy week, you sometimes might just let your pet out in the backyard to dig up his own trouble. This weekend, spend a little extra time moving with him. Play fetch, give him that much-needed belly rub or take him on an extra-long walk. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/footloosiety/4255290603/" target="_hplink">footloosiety</a></em>
If you've made plans to meet a friend for coffee, take your catch up session to-go instead and gab on a walk. Even strolling at a snail's pace will burn 85 calories in 30 minutes!
Put down the drink for some foosball or pool if you're at a bar this weekend that offers it. Thirty minutes of pool can shave off 85 calories, not to mention you may save yourself a few if your hands aren't wrapped tightly around that pint glass. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/15216811@N06/5842783313/" target="_hplink">Nicola since 1972</a></em>
Head for the hills! Depending on where you live, a hike can be a weekend expedition or a quick afternoon adventure. It's a change of scenery and a great way to spend some time outdoors. If you're feeling sporty enough to tackle some hills, you can burn almost 250 calories in just 30 minutes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/4104101152/" target="_hplink">mikebaird</a></em>
If you typically find yourself hailing a taxi on the weekends, try hoofing it instead. If your destination is too far to make it on foot, try public transportation -- and leave the seat for someone else. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tmab2003/3180940701/" target="_hplink">TMAB2003</a></em>
If you have plans to barbecue this weekend, break out the lawn games to get you out of your seat. Try <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/lawn-games-calorie-counts-memorial-day-_n_1546462.html" target="_hplink">croquet</a> or badminton, which can burn more than 150 calories in 30 minutes. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessabc/5835828281/" target="_hplink">Jessa B.C.</a></em>
Those people who do their exercise walking around the mall are onto something. Whether or not you plan to buy anything, browsing around your favorite shopping center gets you moving -- especially if you decide to wiggle in and out of a few things in the dressing room. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmyharris/2774384836/" target="_hplink">jimmyharris</a></em>
Spend some time strolling through the halls and galleries of your favorite museum. You'll give your brain a workout while you're at it!
Pick your favorite nearby joint and walk to pick up your meal.
Sure, it might take a little longer than sitting through the drive-thru, but you get the pleasure of working those muscles a little bit.
Instead of sitting at a restaurant waiting to be served, why not whip something up at home? You'll be on your feet slicing, chopping, mixing and more, not to mention cleaning up after yourself. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/janicecullivan/4262146921/" target="_hplink">mamaloco</a></em>
A number of <a href="http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/lawn_garden/home_gardening/vegetables/Variety+Of+Vegetables+Can+Be+Planted+In+Late+Summer.htm" target="_hplink">fall veggies</a> are ready for planting now. Spending an hour digging, crouching, weeding and planting in your garden <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/memorial-day-chores-calories_n_1543691.html#slide=1018494" target="_hplink">can burn more than 300 calories</a>. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/7682623@N02/7343305940/" target="_hplink">auntjojo</a></em>
You don't have be imitate the Tour de France! Even the most casual rides can burn 200 calories an hour. Don't own a bike? Many cities now have <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2011-05-08-bike-sharing-programs_n.htm" target="_hplink">bike share programs</a> that allow you to take a short spin for a small fee, and some parks have bikes available for rent, too. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chinny_chin_chin00/6137088467/" target="_hplink">machernucha</a></em>
Go old-school, and grab a group of friends to head to the nearest <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/make-fitness-fun_n_1465840.html#slide=921050" target="_hplink">laser tag</a> arena. You'll run, jump, squat, crawl -- all in the name of fun and (healthy) competition. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/shawnzlea/324447996/" target="_hplink">shawnzrossi</a></em>
With the increase in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/sports/the-sport-of-bouldering-climbs-in-popularity.html?pagewanted=all" target="_hplink">popularity of bouldering</a>, you no longer need a load of gear (and experience!) to reap the fitness benefits of rock climbing. Try it out at a local gym -- you'll burn calories and seriously work those arm muscles. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/toolmantim/6728078909/" target="_hplink">toolmantim</a></em>
It's not just for dads in bowling shirts! Grab a pair of nerdy-chic shoes and aim straight. You may even wiggle a little arm workout out of it! <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/junklab/68904368/" target="_hplink">junklab</a></em>
Dreaming of a couch-potato weekend? Turn that screen time into something more productive by challenging a roommate, spouse or kid to a Wii Fit boxing or tennis match. <em>Flickr photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sashawolff/3190273060/" target="_hplink">SashaW</a></em>
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