Certifications

Don’t want to read a whole page of copy? Here’s the punchline:

You are responsible for your client’s results. A certification won’t magically do that by itself.

Now, the backstory. Not too long after Joe passed his personal trainer certification, he received a phone call. It was a personal training client, and she was in absolute distress. “How could you Joe?!? You said I would lose the weight in time for my daughter’s wedding!”

She imagined her daughter’s beautiful day, and imagined herself as being the most beautiful version of herself in it. She was epically pissed.

Rightfully so. Joe used everything he was shown on the personal training course and compiled it into a workout program. Followed it like a checklist on a clipboard. But a certification alone can’t zip up a beautiful dress.

But a certification alone can’t zip up a beautiful dress.

More backstory.

Football was life. After Joe was released by Leicester City Football Club, there weren’t many options. He was thrown a lifeline at North Warwickshire & Hinckley College: a football academy, but with conditions. He had to study.

What’s an obsessive footballer to do at academy? Study sport, of course. This temporary diversion from his “dream” ended up becoming the truer path: a decorated career as a personal trainer and high-end studio owner.

Goals in a stadium were replaced by goals in a gym.

In the academy, he studied food, anatomy and physiology. Sure, played some sport. But mostly hit the gym. Enhanced overall performance. After awhile, the routine made him forget. He no longer imagined himself running out into the stadium lights. Instead, imagining how to show up each day in the real world, then doing exactly that.

This routine and new mindset created it’s own sort of magic. Joe quickly became the go-to fitness and nutrition expert to friends and fellow gym members. One door closed, another opened. A voice of clarity emerged: mate, enough with the ego. Become what you already are. Become a personal trainer. Then create your own stadium.

That voice kept going …

Forget the certifications. Get your experience from a humble college gym.

How to coach people on exercise and diet prescription? Simple: common sense and bootstrapping. You live this stuff. Just help others live it too in the best way you know for now.

What emerged was a rough and tumble equation to success: mistakes breed experience. Experience breeds quality. The higher the quality, the more success.

And experience taught what a textbook couldn’t: clients don’t just come for help around exercise and nutrition. They need help around motivation. They need to break years and years of bad habits and wicked behaviour.

In that humble gym, Joe had to open and close the gym, cash up, lead member inductions, design programs, and sell memberships. All within the first year, with no actual fitness qualification. Just a sports course.

A basic college sports course was enough to qualify him at the time. It wasn’t until after Joe left the college gym to look for a fitness instructor job at a commercial gym that problems emerged…

Here’s the dirty truth about personal training certifications: They are not all valuable (at least not for the reasons you think). They won’t zip up dresses right away. Most clients know what they need to do, but they just can’t seem to do it. Here’s the facts on what you need to know:

Personal Training is an industry with little to no regulation.

It’s not like becoming a doctor. A doctor faces years and years of training, then is strictly to regulated by a governing body once they start treating real live people.

Yet qualifying to become a personal trainer takes no more than a long weekend and a 6-week course. You’re not treating real live people in the same way as a doctor, but you are certainly treating live people, and what you know and what you do matters.

Doctors keep people alive. But personal trainers help people feel more alive. Which means that the barrier to entry to help people – to really help people – is accessible to anyone with a gym habit, a big heart and some tenacity.

Your clients don’t really care about your qualifications. Nor will they ask.

It’s like this: your client has a long standing problem. Everything else has failed. They want you to provide a solution, not provide a glossy piece of paper saying you can provide them a solution. In this game, it’s about results. Mother wants to wear her dress.

When was the last time you asked your doctor or dentist what qualifications they had? Sir, I need to see your notarised degree. Nah, they just rocked up all confident in a white coat. You took it as so, and let them get on with the business of solving your problem.

With personal trainers, the outfit is different, but the confidence is the same. Personal trainers help clients get the results they want. Period. A personal training certification on its own won’t do that. But like a white coat, it’ll get you in the front door.

Most gyms won’t even hire you nowadays without a personal training certification.

Good news is some of the better gyms help you get qualified.

Ask the right questions. Ask the gym what the criteria are for certification. Ask if the personal training certificate is valid and applicable should you leave and become an independent personal trainer. This is clutch, especially if you harbor ambitions of opening your own gym.

There’s a sweet upside to being employed by a gym and doing an in-house certification. You gain the currency of experience. Plus, the courses are funded for you (provided you commit to that particular gym for an agreed amount of time). If you have to pay for your own course, don’t go into debt to do so.

With a surging influx of new personal trainers into the fitness industry, there means more competition. So what makes you different? What flavour of personal training are you going to offer? What type of clientele do you wish to serve? Learn the fundamentals of running a personal training business that are not taught on the certifications (but are absolutely necessary if you are going to succeed). Learn more about my PT Studio Growth Programme here.