All About Personal Training Certs

I stumbled upon this article written by Amanda Vogel titled “Cert by Selfie” and it inspired me to write a blog post today! Woop!

The article delves into the debate on social medial personalities and are they taking away from trainers that are certified?


I love being able to go on Pinterest and search “at home workouts” and have tons of routines pop up or follow people on instagram that post workout videos.  And heck, I read and write a  fitness blog, so I can definitely say I’m a fan of social media + fitness. But at the same time, is someone an authority on fitness soley by the fact that they have a huge following or a fit physique? Not necessarily.

My take?

The consumer should be informed and/or research who they are taking serious exercise or nutrition advice from. Do they have a degree in Kinesiology, are they certified, what continuing education courses have they taken etc?

When I was in college (OMG 10 years ago), ACSM and NSCA were the big two to pursue. More recently ACE and NASM have gained more recognition. Thinking about becoming certified or are you looking for a trainer? I’d make sure they are certified by one of these organizations. Of course a big part of the job is being relatable to people. You can have a billion certs but if you aren’t easy to communicate with, it isn’t going to do you any good!

I had a certification through ACSM, but more recently pursued my CSCS (certified strength and conditioning specialist). I wanted it is because it is well respected when working with the athletic population as well as the general public.


To take the exam you need a Bachelor’s degree (not necessarily in Kinesiology, but of course that helps).  There are two sections Scientific Foundations and the Applied/Practical portion. The exam covers nutrition, anatomy, exercise physiology, biomechanics, exercise technique, program design, and testing/evaluation. The test was a beast and I studied for about 3 months prior and A LOT. I remember keeping flashcards in my purse and studying any chance I had. Don’t miss that!

I don’t think one certification is better than the other as you learn more through experience and continuing education.

Remember Group Exercise is different than personal training. For example, spinning instructors don’t need a personal training certification- they are certified to teach spin. Same goes for zumba, yoga, pilates etc.

Have you worked with a personal trainer?

Are you certified?

*Check out a recent article I contributed to from Gym Geek!*


7 thoughts on “All About Personal Training Certs

  1. gojenbefit

    Nothing wrong with having a a great outer appearance and huge social media following but I would still prefer for the person who would help me on my journey to be certified and knowledgeable of what I need and what they are suggesting or teaching me. THANKS FOR THIS POST!

  2. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance

    I am a group fitness instructor, not a personal trainer, so I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable leading clients through a routine on their own at the gym. I can easily lead a class and provide modifications but I think the more in-depth knowledge required to help individuals with their personal goals and limitations is necessary for one-on-one training.

  3. Sarah

    I have been thinking about becoming and Strength and Conditioning coach. Do you feel it really helped you beyond the PT cert?

    1. fitgirlprettyworld Post author

      Hi Sarah! Well, I got it since I was working in outpatient physical therapy, so I wanted it for that sport aspect. I’m also a dork and like studying that stuff. And it’s always nice to have more initials behind your name! 🙂

  4. Ashleigh

    Totally agree on a lot of these points. As a fitness competitor, I see SO MANY accounts with massive amounts of followers who show videos of themselves training and it’s so poorly done – but the audience has no idea and just loves it. I think there’s a lot to be said for proper certification if someone places a true value on their health and well-being. You can’t just throw a cookie cutter program together and not expect questions back – how can you appropriately answer them if you don’t have the background knowledge??

    Ok… rant done. Thanks for the soap box. SORRY!


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