Choosing an Instructor with Certified Training
A certified fitness professional should have demonstrated on an examination the skills and knowledge required to provide those services. A certified trainer is also required to take approved continuing education in order to maintain and improve their knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, many people called "trainers" don't have these competencies or requirements.
Some fitness certifications are solid credentials, but many others are not. Some are nothing more than completion certificates for continuing education or specialty training—which are fine in themselves, but not certifications. Others are just brief, in-house staff training in health clubs or other locations. Leaders in the fitness industry are trying to correct this problem by introducing accredited fitness certifications.
Accreditation means a national, independent organization has approved a certification credential based on objective criteria. Presently, the American Council on Exercise is one of a select few accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
ACE has four accredited certifications: personal trainer, group exercise instructor, clinical exercise specialist and lifestyle and weight management consultant. Each of these certifications requires the candidate to pass a rigorous and objective examination approved by the NCCA.
NCCA accreditation is the standard for a large majority of certified allied health professions and other certified professions such as nursing, dietary management, athletic training and financial planning. Effective January 1, 2006, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association recommends club owners only hire personal trainers holding at least one certification accredited by the NCCA or its equivalent.
When you interview a prospective fitness trainer or instructor, ask if they are currently certified, by what organization and whether their certification is accredited by the NCCA or equivalent national organization. A solid certification is certainly not the only factor in choosing a trainer.
Education/training, experience, talent, reputation and compatibility count, too. But an accredited certification removes a lot of guesswork about basic qualifications, making it a good place to start.
Supervised Workouts Improve Results
New research supports the benefits of hiring a qualified personal trainer to help you attain your fitness goals.
Twenty men ages 18 to 35 were placed on a 12-week resistance-training program.
Half the group trained unsupervised and maintained their own workout logs. The other half received one-on-one supervision with a certified personal trainer.
In addition to keeping track of their workouts and charting their progress, the trainers provided spotting and advice to participants and made sure training loads were increased progressively.
Unsupervised participants made changes to their programs using the same principles and were self-motivated.
Both groups achieved significant strength gains; however, the supervised group also made significant improvements in body mass, fat mass and fat-free mass.
Researchers suggest that the trainer encouraged participants to use and tolerate greater training loads, thus eliciting greater gains than those who self-selected their training loads.
Source: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2000; 32, 6, 1175