How do I know if my personal trainer is certified? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

How do I know if my personal trainer is certified?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • You can verify a personal trainer’s certification by checking their licensing organization’s website.
  • The gym you’re working with should know if a trainer has a certification.
  • Each certification program is unique.

When you’re looking for the right personal trainer, you’re wise to verify their qualifications. One important part of the research process is verifying the trainer’s professional certification. Even if they claim that they have a certification, it’s fair to want to see it for yourself. There are a few different ways that you can make sure your personal trainer holds the right certification for the job.

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Check the Licensing Organization’s Website

Most organizations that license personal trainers have their own websites. These websites offer information for individuals interested in earning a certification as a personal trainer. They also provide resources for licensed individuals to keep their skills current and explore opportunities for advanced certifications.

Among the other things that most certifying organizations provide is a directory of their licensed trainers.

They offer several different ways to search for a trainer. You can search by name, location, or certificate number depending on the organization that you’re researching.

Organizations that license personal trainers want the public to have confidence in the individuals that they license. In addition, they want to help you find qualified trainers in your area. Providing a search for licensed trainers is a great way to help both consumers and trainers connect. If you can’t find the information online, licensing organizations don’t mind if you place a phone call to check information.

Ask Your Trainer

It’s fair to ask your trainer whether they’re certified. If they say yes, you can ask them what agency they hold their certification through. That way, you know what website to go to and verify their certification. Your trainer might also have their certification on display at their gym. They might be proud to show it off if you ask.

Ask at the Gym

The gym where you want to work with your trainer should also have information about your trainer’s certification. If you’re interested in using a trainer at a certain gym, team members at the gym should be willing to answer all of your questions about a trainer’s qualifications.

In most cases, the gym will do its due diligence and verify this information before they hire a trainer. It’s fair to ask them if they’ve done the leg work to verify a trainer’s qualifications before they allow the trainer to begin work.

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Check the Gym’s Policy

Most gyms have hiring policies for the trainers they work with. Whether a trainer is an employee of the gym or a contractor, the gym likely requires them to have some kind of certification. If you know the gym’s hiring policy, you can reason that someone who works for the gym has one of those certifications.

For example, Gold’s Gym requires all of their trainers to have a certification from one of a handful of recognized programs. If you want to work with a trainer at Gold’s Gym, it’s probably safe to assume that they have one of these certifications. It’s likely that the gym has done their research to make sure that every new hire has the certification that they require of personal trainers.

Check Their Website or Information Page

Many personal trainers have their own websites. If a trainer works through a gym, they might have biographical information on the gym’s website, which is a great place to look to learn more about your personal trainer. In addition to learning about whether they’re certified, you can also learn a little bit about what motivates them to work with clients and learn about their experience in the industry.

Not All Certifications Are Created Alike

It’s important to keep in mind that not all certifications have the same, or even similar, content. Some certification programs have a list of prerequisites that include minimum age requirements, a high school diploma, and a lack of serious criminal history. Many reputable programs require individuals to have CPR and first aid training. More elite programs require a college degree in fields like exercise physiology or kinesiology.

When you research the right trainer for you, it’s important to look into what their certification involves. Some training programs focus on strength training for bodybuilders and professional athletes. Other programs are geared more for individuals who want to work at a local gym with a diverse set of clients that have a wide variety of goals and health concerns. Even within the same certifying organization, there may be multiple certification programs available.

These programs often have different components, and the subject matter can be very different from one course to another. For example, a certification for youth with special needs isn’t very applicable if you’re a senior looking for the right trainer.

You don’t want a trainer with only a certification in group exercise if you’re looking for one-on-one help with fitness for individuals with diabetes.

When you’re verifying your trainer’s certification, it’s worth your while to spend some time reading about what their training includes. Programs can vary considerably by organization and by program. Your research can help you conclude if a trainer is a good fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What certification do most personal trainers have?

Most personal trainers are certified through ACE or NASM.

Can a personal trainer have a certification and be a bad trainer?

Yes; just as a doctor can have a medical degree and still be a “bad” doctor, having a personal training certification does not mean that the trainer is an effective one.

How long does becoming a certified personal trainer take?

It depends on the certification. Some only require a few days or weeks of studying; others require months of study and other pre-requisites like a college degree.

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