By Michelle Matte, MSEd
The Other Health Care
From Jane Fonda to Jillian Michaels, personal fitness trainers have been portrayed in the media as toned and sculpted super-humans who have no tolerance for the lame excuses of mere mortals. But when you step away from the spotlight, you will see that most personal trainers are down-to-earth compassionate facilitators whose primary mission is to support you in attaining your goals.
Personal training, however, is about more than exercise. Most certified trainers are educated in physiology, movement mechanics, nutrition and lifestyle-related disease. At their collective core, trainers are educators who work tirelessly for their clients to enhance health and quality of life. Personal fitness training is at the opposite end of the health spectrum from medical treatment: Trainers intervene to prevent, and in some cases reverse, lifestyle-induced health problems through behavior modification and training.
Future of the Fitness Practitioner
As a career path, personal training promises a bright future. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the profession will grow by eight percent over the next decade, as businesses and insurance companies recognize the benefits of a fit and healthy workforce. Personal trainers are increasingly working with older adults and other special populations to improve overall quality of life.
As things currently stand, most personal trainer certification programs require minimal prerequisites. However, movements are afoot to raise the bar for educational credentials. With increasing numbers of colleges and universities offering advanced degrees in exercise science, opportunities for less credentialed trainers may diminish. Therefore, when selecting a certification program, it is important to find one that is accredited by bodies like the American Council on Education (ACE) and the International Association For Continuing Education And Training (IACET). Accredited programs must satisfy rigid requirements, and are more likely to adequately prepare you for a career in the field.
For Every Body
Even if you are not interested in working as a fitness trainer, taking a certification course can help you chart your own fitness journey. Understanding how your body works and how exercise, nutrition and lifestyles choices can impact your health will equip you to be a better steward of your body. Your knowledge can also be an invaluable tool for keeping your family healthy. Personal training as a career is not for everybody, but fitness training is for every body.