One of the biggest questions I get is: “What type of personal training certification should I get?

I addressed this question in my Truth about Personal Trainer Certifications post. But, in that post, I neglected to address the following two realities that both new and seasoned fitness professionals need to realize when it comes to investing in fitness education:

Embrace that your clients don’t (really) care about your certification.

As much as the various fitness certifying bodies would like you to believe that the type of personal training certification you have will impact your success as a trainer, the reality of the fitness field clearly demonstrates otherwise.

Certain fitness clubs may insist their staff hold a certain certification that they bias. However, the average client, the people that hire your services, typically have no clue about any of the certifications offered in the fitness field. Any fitness professional with some experience knows full well that rarely, if ever, does the type of certification affect whether a client hires them.

Your education (i.e. certification and/or degree) only awards you the ability to call yourself a “personal trainer.” It’s your personality and ability to successfully apply your education in a practical manner your clients can understand and relate to that determines how many clients you get and how successful you are is a trainer.

As I said in my Truth about Personal Trainer Certifications post, “If you are shy, don’t communicate well or you’re simply an arrogant asshole who people don’t seem to like; all the certifications in the world won’t make you successful. In this business, you need personality. And, you don’t get that from any personal training certification course.”

Note: The fact that personality greatly impacts the effectiveness of education is a reality that exists in all areas of education and communication, not just is the fitness education arena. This is something I’ve described in detail in my Why Smart Trainer Believe Stupid Things: The Dr. Fox Effect article.

It’s great to pursue a variety of certifications and continued education to help you build a more well-rounded education, and provide you more tools in your toolbox. It’s just that you don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that your type of certification will have much of an impact on the success of your personal training business. Now, if we go beyond the general personal training realm; for those fitness professionals who are interested in attracting a specific population, such as Golfers for example; a good argument can be made that having a specialty golf performance certification should be a part of your credentials.

As I also said in my Truth about Personal Trainer Certifications post, “I’m well aware that many people will disagree with what I’ve said above due to their personal biases toward certain personal trainer certifications, professional affiliation, personal opinion or elitism. And, that’s cool with me as my only bias is to the evidence I have. And, with the very large number of individuals of whom I’ve helped break into, and advance in the fitness field, not one of them has ever come back to me saying that “I owe all my success to the certification I got from __________ organization. Their success has come from having a passion for helping others build a love for movement and become better students of nutrition, an infectious energy, great communication and teaching ability, along with a mastery of basic exercise techniques, progressions and regressions, and the principles of program design.”

Understand that a higher education does not equal more clients.

Statistics have shown that college graduates generally do make more money in the job world than non-college graduates. However, in the fitness field, having a college degree does not all guarantee that you’ll attract more personal training clients.

The reality of the personal training world, as I established above: much of what brings you new clients (and keeps your current clients with you) is your personality and your ability to communicate, motivate and inspire them to exercise not only for themselves but also do it for you the trainer. As the saying goes, “Hire for personality, train for skill.”

In conclusion, you can never go wrong with a higher education. Just don’t make the mistake of going to college thinking that after you graduate you’re guaranteed to attract more clients because of a degree. Also, don’t assume that since you’re degreed or “certified” that you’re actually “qualified.” (I stole that little saying from Dave Parise). Passing tests is just memorizing and regurgitating someone else’s system. This is why one can easily be over-educated and under-qualified.

Put simply, fitness certifications and degrees do NOT (necessarily) help you make more $ as a fitness professional – Getting results and creating an experience people like helps you make more $!