How to Find Out if a Personal Trainer Is Certified | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

How to Find Out if a 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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  • Checking directly with a trainer may be the best way to discover information about any certifications.
  • Following up with the certifying agency helps with verifying the legitimacy of a certification.
  • Potential clients should look for things beyond only the basics related to the certification.
The day has arrived when you decide to sign up for personal training sessions. While motivated to start, you might not be completely sure about what particular personal trainer to work with.

Choosing a certified personal trainer probably makes the most sense. Certifications indicate knowledge and credibility.

Finding out whether a trainer holds a certification should be a top priority in order to ensure you get the best possible instruction from a qualified professional.

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What Is a Personal Trainer Certification?

Personal training certificates are diplomas of sorts issued by fitness organizations.

The certification reflects a trainer has passed an examination covering all the material in a particular fitness discipline.

A trainer could possess a number of certificates revealing he/she holds several credentials including personal trainer, aerobics coach, cardio kickboxing instructor, and more.

For most clients, a basic personal trainer certification is enough since they only wish to lose weight and build up muscle through simple, effective, and consistent monitored exercise.

How Do You Find out If a Personal Trainer Has a Certificate?

A personal trainer usually lists his or her certificates on a website or other advertisements. Many, however, do not even have a website or business cards.

So, to find out about certification, simply ask; actually, do more than just ask if the trainer has a particular certificate: ask for him/her to send you a copy. A simple photograph of the certificate would be enough.

The trainer could take a photo with a smartphone and then send an email of the image.

A quick examination of the document tells you what you need to know about the personal trainer’s certification status. Examining the images reveals the certifying organization and the exact type of certification the trainer holds.

For example, the document could state “Jon Doe holds a Level I Strength and Conditioning Certification from XYZ Fitness.”

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Why Should You Worry About a Trainer’s Certification?

Everyone wants quality service. Even those seeking discount or budget training deals want to work with a trainer capable of devising competent sessions.

Personal trainers who hold certifications can point to their program of study and the certification courses taken to prove their competency in their career.

All of this builds confidence when making a consumer decision to hire a trainer. There are other steps you could take to further increase your confidence in a trainer’s background:

Contact the Certifying Agency

It doesn’t hurt to do a little double-checking with the organization that issued the certificate. These organizations maintain accurate and up-to-date records on certification holders.

Certain organizations even maintain continuing education and re-certification requirements.

Failure to meet these requirements leads to the certification expiring. An expired certification, absent any other current certifications, means the trainer is no longer certified.

Learning such information might lead you to ask other pertinent questions in order to establish your comfort level with training with the person.

Ask a Gym Employee

Many personal trainers work as independent contractors at local gyms. Ask the gym’s representative about the certifications their affiliated trainers hold.

Likely, the representative can answer the question or put you in touch with someone who does. At the very least, you can confirm whether the gym mandates current certification requirements for trainers.

Learning about the credentials of the personal trainer should be a top priority. Do not, however, stop when you see the paper document.

Performing a few extra steps would prove very helpful to make sure you are choosing the best personal trainer.

Read up on the Personal Trainer Certificate

A trainer may show you a certificate, but the certificate won’t mean anything beyond its printed words when you have no clue about the issuing organization.

Likely, you would be very impressed to discover the standards of the certifying authority are very high.

On the flip side, bad reviews about a fly-by-night certification program probably wouldn’t leave you with much enthusiasm over the trainer.

The top organizations offering personal trainer certifications include:

Ask About Specific Work Experience

A personal trainer could possess quite a bit of additional experience that makes him or her a good choice. Perhaps the trainer worked at the customer service desk of a fitness facility for three years.

Maybe he/she served as a volunteer martial arts instructor at a community center for a decade. Related fitness experience indicates a personal trainer understands how to work with a variety of customers in a multitude of environments.

Contact References

Check out the references for the personal trainer. Find out if the work performed lives up to the credentials on the certificate. Asking previous clients how the personal trainer helped them out tells a lot.

When five clients mention the great results they attained with a particular trainer and how nice of a person he/she is, the chances are the same quality of training will continue with you.

In some cases, you could contact previous employers if the trainer worked for a gym or other facility. Maybe the payment requirements for a particular training require, say, a six-month commitment and a contract.

Being concerned about signing onto such a deal makes sense considering the time and money involved. Seeking even more substantial reviews makes sense to some in order to make the decision.

Employers who speak highly about the trainer might deliver the biggest confidence boost in a would-be client.

Ask About the Personal Trainer’s Insurance

What happens if you get hurt, seriously hurt, while working out with a personal trainer? A major back injury could lead to being out of work for many months.

Who covers your lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses? If the trainer has a liability insurance policy, then a settlement may be able to cover those losses.

Certified trainers with experience in the industry often know the value of taking out an insurance policy. Not every client realizes those policies not only protect the trainer but also provide a level of protection to them as well.

Why Go Through All of These Steps?

Probably the bulk of personal training clients make a simple inquiry about pricing and then decide “yes or no” on sessions.

Taking this lax approach can lead to being less-than-thrilled with the results or even the client/trainer relationship.

A little extra diligence increases the chances you’ll like your personal trainer and the accompanying sessions. This way, you will stick with the trainer, the sessions, and, hopefully, a new lifestyle dedicated to healthier living.

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