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Session #008 - Do You Need to be Certified to Work as a Personal Trainer?

Show notes:

So should you be certified to work as a personal trainer? Well, the quick answer actually, is no. No, you don't.

Let me explain.

Depending on what country you live in, there might be some different rules. So you need to check with these rules and what they are for the specific place where you want to work. But for most of the places that I'm aware of, it's not actually a legal requirement for you to have any certification to work as a personal trainer.

Now a different question is, do I recommend you get yourself certified? And yes, I do. I think that every trainer should have some form of certification, no matter what country you live in and no matter what rules that they have.

So if we look at countries like the US or the UK, then legally, you don't need to be certified to be a trainer.

But it is a very good idea for you to be certified. And there's a couple of reasons for this. In those countries they have a very litigious culture where if anything goes wrong, your ex-client will generally blame you as the trainer and sue you for all kinds of different damages, and, injury, loss of earnings and anything else they think they can get away with.

So, if you are a trainer with no certification, you are potentially screwed. One thing that can help you protect against the person taking everything you have and by everything I mean, your house if you have one, your savings, your kid's future, everything. The one thing that can save you and protect you from that is insurance.

So, what do you think you need to be able to purchase insurance? That's right. A certification, and a valid one at that. So in these countries it's really important to have a certification. And it's also really important to keep those certs up to date because without it, your insurance will become void.

It doesn't matter if you're freelance or employed in a gym. In fact, to reduce their liability most gyms will only employ trainers with a certification or freelancers if they have a certification and insurance. Employees will be covered by the gyms own insurance, but gyms almost always demand that you have your own if you are a freelance trainer.

Insurance actually, is also not a legal requirement, but you'd be pretty stupid to operate without one.

There's a really big risk that you're taking if you don't have that certification and therefore the insurance.

But rules are different everywhere and things do differ. Where I'm in Bangalore, you don't need to be a certified trainer to work as a personal trainer, just the same as these other countries. But also here, there's not this kind of culture of suing people.

It is just a different kind of mindset when it comes to that kind of thing and it's something that trainers here don't really have to worry about to the same extent.

But I still recommend that you get yourself certified and have insurance just to be safe.

Let's get on with some other reasons apart from insurance which is a really, really big and important one.

To give you an example, if you wanted to work at Invictus, like a lot of gyms, we always want to have certified trainers and for a couple of different reasons. One, it looks good to our members and we don't want to lie to our members. So by saying that all our trainers are certified and actually having them certified is really important. A lot of gyms will say it, but not many gyms stick to it.

Now the reason we want people to be certified is not actually because it shows that you're a better trainer. This is where there's a grey area. When people ask the question of, 'do you need a certification?' Because people want to know if it's going to actually make them better or not.

A Certification definitely does not automatically make you a better trainer. It might give you better knowledge, but there's far more that goes into being a trainer than just knowledge.

So it's not going to make you better than somebody that's not certified. It does not make you better at your job. It Is possible for a self-taught trainer to know a lot, even more, in fact, than a certified trainer. But the thing is as an employer in Invictus is that we like to see people certified because it shows that a trainer takes their profession seriously.

You could learn all this on your own, but there's no way of showing and proving that you have done that. So by taking a certification, it shows that you take learning seriously, and that you're willing to invest money in yourself, in your personal development and your career. So it goes a long way to show us about what kind of person you are and how you value yourself and your place within the fitness industry.

We put a lot of value on trainers that have a learning mindset and a certification is a great way that you can show this.

So you don't need a certification legally, but it is a very good idea to have one and it would be a very beneficial thing to have one.

Having a certification does also give you another reason to be able to charge more for your services. You have shown to a potential client that you have taken the time to learn. That you have invested money in yourself, and that is going to make you seem more valuable in their eyes.

Now, all the theory and learning for a certification is great. But it doesn't always help you on a practical level for what you need to apply in real life with an actual client.

As you start your career in the fitness world, once you step into a gym or start your own business, you're going to quickly find out that there's a lot of knowledge you need that's not included on your CPT course.

And, that's one of the main reasons why I started the podcast and run the courses and the Epic Pro membership. It's to help fill those knowledge gaps from the courses, but in a way to compliment those courses that you've completed.

There are things that they don't teach. Things like effective consultations and building rapport and being able to work with a client day-to-day and that process of being a personal trainer. All that is missing.

It's not to focus on anatomy and assessments and everything else taught on these courses, which they do really well, by the way. But to try and compliment the courses that you've already completed and build on top of it, so that you've got all the tools you need to run a successful personal training business.

To provide something that's going to get you ready for the real day-to-day reality of what personal trainers do.

And it's stuff that works. We've been doing it at Invictus for years now. Some of this I was even doing in the UK before I moved to India.

I didn't come up with all of it either. I relied a lot on some of my first mentors. Tom and then Dan, but also from all the trainers that I've worked alongside throughout the years.

I've taken what I was taught, used it repeatedly, refine some, improved some and then introduced some of my own as I got better at things.

Now you get to know how to get more clients, how to manage your clients, how to help them be consistent and you know how to retain your clients. You can get a serious shortcut!

But there are a couple of issues I have with some of the courses which are quite common.

First is that there's no practical modules or assessments on many courses.

All that theory is great, but when there's no practical, I mean it's, it's a job that's 90% practical.

The other have the problem I see more recently are courses these days all trying to sell their course based on how fast they can get you certified.

Now, if you're going to learn something and learn it properly so that you can go out into the world and deliver personal training. And you're doing a course that says you can do it in one week and you'll be ready, to be a proper personal trainer. Well, that's not really going to be serving you or your clients that well.

If just a certification is all that you want, then that's a path you can go down. But if you actually want to learn, so you can really serve your clients, then you're going to need something that's a bit more in depth. You really can't learn all this stuff in a week or two is, it's just impossible.

When I first started out as a trainer there was an intensive course that was being held at the gym where I was working. These students would come in 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every single day and it took around six to eight weeks to complete. It was in a gym that used to be called FitSpace in Bournemouth, in the UK.

The trainers that came off this course wouldn't always be that great. Yes, they've passed their assessment, but they'd never dealt with an actual client before.

They didn't know what to do when they got into the gym, like so many other after completing a course. Myself included!

They don't have a process in place, that customer journey, to give a great experience and to be able to consistently deliver on results. all of that stuff is missing. It's not taught on courses.

There is a lot of training that they need to go through to be able to do the job right. And you can find that out when you start in a gym.

Back at that time, there was the largest agency for personal trainers in the UK, which was called Fitness Agents. At the time they would make all new personal trainers throughout the UK attended a three day course to help them fill that same knowledge gap.

And we had to pay for it. It would cost more than a £300 if I remember right. Which is roughly INR 30,000.

Oh, and we have to go all the way to London to take part.

Now, let's say you decided you do want to go down the certification route. People often ask which course should I take? And there are so many out there now. I don't know even a small fraction of them any more.

There's new ones popping up all the time. Every time we do an interview, there's another applicant with a certificate from some new academy.

I would always suggest you go with something that's a recognised. Some of the big players like Active IQ, ACE, YMCA, NASM, ISSA, ACSM or something similar. Those are recognised the world over.

But if you're asking me which one specifically, well...they do have a slightly different slants to them. They do have slightly different approaches, but the basics are kind of the same.

We have interviewed trainers at the gym and all of these trainers are certified by the time they sit down and do a face-to-face interview. We've had really terrible applicants that are graduates from all these courses. And we've also had really good applicants that are graduates from all of these courses.

So the course in and of itself is obviously not the deciding factor. It's down to the trainers, the trainers personality. It's their attitude. It's their approach as a person and what kind of person they are. The fact that they care about their clients, and maybe the gym culture that they've developed in, the environment that they've developed in when first starting out.

Part of that story is also down to the mentors that a trainer has had and the people that have taught the specific courses that they've enrolled in.

We've hired some great trainers who are great people.

In Bangalore, we have hired specifically from Geetha's R8 fitness academy.

She focuses on ACE prep course. We've also hired some that are graduates from Proton Fitness Academy run by Gautam Sangappa, who also does ACSM.

So if you're not in Bangalore or not even in India, listening to this podcast, take a look at what's around and check who created the course. Who's teaching the course. If you're doing it in-person.,you want to make sure you've got a good mentor, a good tutor that's gonna help make sure that you can get the most out of the course.

So anyway, that's my 2 cents. That's my opinion based on years in the industry in two different countries. I don't even know how many interviews and CV's and stuff that we've, that we've looked at.

We currently have a listing up on and we've had more than 200 applicants for that position over the last month to six weeks. And we've done a lot of interviews as well.

All of these guys are certified because like I said, by the time they come for an interview we've already checked that they are. But when it comes down to it, you can get two guys from the same batch from the same course. Both certified, both passed. One can be terrible, one can be really good.


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