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Barbell Logic

Jul 19, 2022

Are fitness certifications worth it, worthless, or does it depend? Niki & CJ walk you through how to consider the value of a fitness certifications as a barbell coach or personal trainer.

Are Fitness Certifications Worth It?
Personal trainers and barbell coaches have proliferated as the health and fitness industry grows. Fitness certifications also abound, and you can probably find a personal training certification for any niche or skill you would want to learn. Are they worth it?

It depends. Thinking about certifications practically and personally, ask yourself "Do I need this certification?" This shifts the focus to YOU, your needs, and your situation.
This question also tends to relate to two other questions that new coaches tend to think (even in subconsciously). Am I ready to coach, and do I have permission to coach?

If you can provide value to a lifter, you can coach, and we've talked and written about coaching spouses and friends first, what that might look like, and how to not suck as a coach.

Regarding permission, the personal training industry does not require a legal certification. You may coach our of your garage. If you're looking to coach at a gym, you may need a certain certification.

Many fall into the trap of trying to collect certifications but failing to coach. We love and encourage academic study and are not anti-certification, but if you want to coach you must coach.
Furthermore, your appreciate and the value of the certification becomes clear when you begin to coach (do I need to know this? does this help me)? As you learn the academic side, you have more to bring to the platform.

Which Personal Training Certification Should I Get?
We return to "Do I need this certification," with stress on the word need.

Will this certification get you clients? Will this certification improve your coaching? Is an employer or potential employers requiring this certification?

You might not know the answers to this. Consider getting one of the study guides or books meant to help prepare you for one of the more common certifications. Start reading it as you coach people. Does the information provide you useful information? Examine what type of information you're finding valuable - maybe there is a certification that focuses more on those areas.

Are Fitness Certifications Worthless?
The incentive of a credential can help motivate one to study and learn. Furthermore, a certification can provide a standard from which employers - gyms and online coaching companies - can evaluate coaches.

Similar to the personal training industry in general, you have to sort through much chafe to get to the wheat. Fitness certifications signal to employers and potential clients you have a baseline level of knowledge. They may be required to get personal training insurance.

Lastly, some may get you clients (or prevent you from getting clients). This is rare in either case, but if a certain brand is well-known and that certification is considered valuable and hard-to-get, you may get clients looking for a coach with that certification. 

Oppositely, if a brand gets associated with something such as getting clients injured, you may find yourself having to defend that brand or dealing with similar questions about the brand's approach.

Are fitness certifications worth it? It depends, and this episode helps you weigh the costs and value of certifications to decide which fitness certification is right for you.
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