Certifications You Should Have as a Fitness Professional
This article is not about what kind of extra physical fitness certs you should add on to the ones you have (although, we do encourage you to always broaden your horizons and shoot for the moon if you’re looking to expand your personal trainer offerings).
By additional certifications, we mean other vital certs, licenses, and specialties you should have to ensure that you’re always prepared to deal with whatever comes your way.
Having extra certifications and specialties can do two things for your personal training career.
For starters, it can ensure that you’re always prepared for the unthinkable. No matter what kind of personal training you want to offer, there are always going to be risks involved. Having special training and certification (outside of just your personal trainer safety requirements) is going to help you mitigate those risks and create a safer environment for every client that works with you.
Secondly, it gives you an edge above your competition. Maybe there’s a competing personal trainer who can offer very similar training, advice, etc. — you’re automatically going to have the edge if you’re better certified, better trained, and more adequately prepared to deal with safety concerns.
Check out a few of the certifications, specialties, and skills we think that every certified personal trainer should consider adding to their resume.
CPR & AED Certification
Newsflash, friends, to be certified as a personal trainer, you need this certification. If you (somehow) don’t have that, we suggest getting on that as soon as humanly possible, because it’s definitely required to be a certified personal trainer.
What It Is: Being certified to do CPR and correctly use an AED (an automated external defibrillator) is an important part of working with people. This certification will guarantee that, in the event of cardiac arrest, a situation where someone stops breathing, or when someone is incapacitated, you are best prepared to handle that situation.
Where to Get Certified: You can take courses via the American Red Cross, the National CPR Foundation, Heartsaver, and many more.
Why It Matters: Being certified to correctly use an AED and to provide CPR to another person is enormously important for everyone, but also exceptionally important for people who work in the fitness industry. Though we always do our best to mitigate risk, the fact of the matter is, when it comes to physical fitness and taxing the heart, some bodily reactions will be unexpected and sudden. It’s vital that you, as the personal trainer, knows exactly what to do if something happens to your client.
Renewal Information: Some CPR certs only require you to renew your certification every two years, but we recommend brushing up on this certification every single year because, like most things, the best tactics are always improving and evolving. Besides, it helps keep you up-to-date and ready-to-go if you ever have to use CPR.
First Aid Certification
What It Is: First aid certification guarantees that you’re ready to be the first form of aid when a client, or person, is dealing with a specific condition, such as choking, bleeding, anaphylactic shock, a diabetic emergency, a stroke, a seizure, a neck or head injury, and much more.
Where to Get Certified: You can be certified via the American Red Cross, Heartsaver, the National CPR Foundation, and more.
Renewal Information: It’s helpful to renew your first aid certification every 12 months to guarantee you’re up-to-date on the best ways to handle a wide array of conditions.
Why it Matters: No matter what industry you’re in, there’s always the chance someone is going to deal with a medical emergency. As a personal trainer, though, it is your obligation to know how to deal with that medical emergency and handle it to the best of your ability. In physical fitness and personal training, sometimes people’s bodies have different reactions based on the shape they’re in, the conditions that might already exist, and honestly, pure happenstance. Knowing how to handle your clients’ medical emergencies makes you a safer, better choice as a personal trainer.
It's also important to note, you can have all of the personal trainer certifications in the world- but you need to protect those certifications and your career, too. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are approximately 460,000 reported fitness injuries a year. No matter how great of a personal trainer you are or how many certifications you hold, you still need personal training liability insurance.
Water Safety Certification
What It Is: Water safety certification will help guarantee that you know how to keep your clients safe in the water, protect them from any danger, instruct them correctly on how to handle an emergency situation in the water, and even teach you how to rescue a client in the water.
Where to Get Certified: You can get certified at a local YMCA, from the American Red Cross, and other online water safety courses. Your local swimming establishment will certainly know where you can become water safety certified.
Renewal Information: As always, it’s best to keep this knowledge fresh, so try to renew your water safety cert every 12 months.
Why it Matters: This is going to be vital if you ever plan to include water activities in your clients’ exercise plans. You can’t, in good confidence, recommend going out to swim (whether it’s in a pool, in the ocean, whatever it might be) without knowing exactly how to protect your client and keep them safe in the water.
Bilingual + ASL certifications
What It Is: This one obviously isn’t a certification, but we do think it comes in handy as a personal trainer. Whether you want to learn a language that’s predominant in your area, one that’s rapidly growing, or simply one that a select few clients would benefit from (like ASL), taking a few classes, learning online, and spending a little time every day can help you learn another language.
Where to Learn: Your local trade school or community college will certainly have a plethora of language classes you can choose from. There are also plenty of online resources as well as software you can download to help keep you on track when learning another language.
Renewal Information: There’s no real certification for this, but we recommend staying as fresh as possible by consistently practicing and reviewing this language.
Why it Matters: Learning another language (or two or three), allows you to be a more accessible personal trainer to a wider array of clients. It’s possible that a Spanish-speaking client or an ASL client wants to work with you but can’t because you two can’t communicate properly. Investing time and effort into learning a few languages can help you become accessible and open the door to helping so many more people.