36 Pittsfield Road
Lenox MA 01240
(413) 637-1414
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Quote: “In order to be wealthy, you must be healthy”


What qualifications does an individual need to call themselves a personal trainer today?  Absolutely nothing!  What qualifications does a person need to call themselves a certified personal trainer?  Very little!  The industry of personal training has taken on a growth spurt over the past decade because of the increased need for the general public to take care of their health.  Unfortunately, since 1 out of every 3 people is overweight it has caused a saturation of a non regulated industry.  Just as the supplement industry can advertise weight loss products that have no approval or regulation by the FDA such as allowing products to be on the market that have resulted in serious bodily harm and even death so has the personal training industry. 

There are close to 100 different organizations that “certify” personal trainers.  Often times with little to no knowledge can somebody take a home study course and send in their answers and receive a certificate as a “certified” personal trainer.  This raises the other bar of standard to regulating the testing standards in the industry through independent agencies.  If a person does not have to take an exam in person it is hard to test their competency of knowledge applicable to persons and scenarios how can one be assured they are competent to give advice?  Only a small number of organizations are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).  This means that an unbiased third party reviews the testing protocol and determines they are valid and reliable to demonstrate the necessary requirements for personal trainers or strength and conditioning specialists.

The 3 organizations that set the gold standard amongst employers and industry professionals are the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  The NSCA is the only one to be accredited since 1993 and offers two distinct certifications, 1.The general certified personal trainer (CPT) and 2. The certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), prerequisite bachelor’s degree.

The CSCS credential is revered amongst industry professionals as being the most vigorous exam to pass. Click here CSCS. The exam focuses on real world responsibilities of professionals.  The diverse groups of industry professionals who hold this certification are strength coaches of universities and professional sports teams, athletic trainers, personal trainers, physical therapist, physicians, chiropractors, researchers and educators.  Professional athletic organizations set forth this exam as the only one revered to be qualified to work on the level of knowledge needed for professional athletes.  Many times with in the industry people often over look the part of just because I saw surgery performed on TV or read a book does not mean one is qualified to perform surgery on others.  Often personal trainers do not even have liability insurance, so if a person is injured training with them through no fault of their own that person may need thousand/hundreds of thousand of dollars in medical bills and lost wages from work that they will never receive if a trainer is uninsured.  Ask to see liability insurance and personal training certifications if they claim to have them.  A qualified personal trainer has a tool box with many different tools to work with depending on the job/person a qualified trainer will use the proper tool to facilitate the right approach.  Bring out a chain saw for a red wood tree and a hand weed cuter for a small weed. 

A qualified trainer will be able to go from 0-100mph depending on client and back to 30mph depending on the person’s capabilities in a blink of a moment.

So what is the bottom line, does a trainer need a nationally accredited certification from the NSCA, NASM or ACSM to be a good trainer, absolutely not?

Does it mean that a trainer with all the nationally accredited certifications, college degrees will be an effective or compatible trainer for everybody, absolutely not?

Do they need a college degree in exercise science to be a good trainer, absolutely not?

Do they have to have solid background in nutrition, absolutely not?

If they only have personal experience and may not be able to know how to tailor a program for different body types, situations, sports, skills and muscular imbalances and deficiencies will they not be able to guide you, absolutely not?

If you feel a trainer is giving you decent guidance, not hurting you, you are comfortable with them and they do have liability insurance, (make sure you see this documentation) then keep on improving your health!  At minimum accredited certifications and degrees set a minimum level of competency in the field.  Just as there are good and bad doctors and lawyers, there are good and bad trainers.


By: J. D. Reber M.S. & B.S. Exercise Science, CSCS &  NASM- CFT


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Personal training in Lenox, MA