Fitness, Personal Training, & Exercise Science

The 10 Most Common Personal Trainer Education Mistakes

Gaining in-depth knowledge about personal training is crucial if you want to help clients achieve their goals — and meet some professional goals of your own. But when it comes to getting the education you need, some wrong detours can come up along the way. Avoid these 10 and you’ll be headed in the right direction:

1. Not getting a certification

Do a Google search on “fitness” and you’ll get 1.4 billion results. But even with all that online information, you have to be sure that what you’re learning is accurate and safe for clients. For that, a certification program is the best choice.

2. Focusing only on your interests

Maybe you’re a powerlifter and you want to be the go-to trainer for others who lift. That’s a great specialization, but personal training education needs to be broader than that so you can understand how lifting may fit into a fitness plan. For example, you should be able to articulate how resistance training, flexibility, and cardiovascular training can mix into a client’s workout time.

3. Learning about exercise, but nothing else

You’ll definitely need to know exercise science, but personal training education should encompass so much more, including business fundamentals, communication, human anatomy, and biomechanics. You’ll have to know proper usage of various commercial fitness machines and how to do exercise testing, among other skills.

4. Skipping the connection between exercise and chronic conditions

At least some of your clients will face issues like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Your education should give you the confidence in designing exercise programs that are appropriate for these clients, rather than employing a one-size-fits-all approach.

5. Not keeping your education fresh

Health, exercise, and nutrition information is as fast-moving as any other industry’s changes. There are some timeless basics that will carry you through for decades — the bicep curl and deadlift aren’t likely to be phased out — but in order to stay informed, you need to consider your education as an ongoing effort.


6. Leaving nutrition out

As a trainer, you know that nutrition and exercise are closely linked for optimal health. But not every client will need the same nutritional plan, and that’s why your education should have some nutritional elements that allow you to evaluate various weight control diets, know about macronutrients, and know the effects of food choices. You may even decide to get a nutritionist certification to expand your professional opportunities.

7. Not broadening your knowledge

As you get more invested in your career, it’s likely that you’ll want to keep deepening your knowledge about all types of training topics. Taking on new certifications or becoming a master personal trainer may be worth considering.

8. Thinking education is too expensive

While it’s true that education like certification programs have an upfront cost, you’ll often see a rapid return on investment depending on how you use that certification. Being hired at a gym, taking personal clients, teaching classes and doing other professional work will build up your reputation — and your bank account.

9. Breezing past assessment knowledge

Although the majority of personal training sessions will involve exercise options, you’ll need to know how to design those plans based on client goals — and those come as a result of in-depth assessments. Spend time during your education to understand how to assess where clients are at, and the signs that they’re making progress.

10. Not considering specialization

As gyms and fitness centers expand their offerings, more education could give you additional opportunities. For example, you might help personal training clients during the day, and teach kickboxing or lead Pilates classes in the evening.

The biggest mistake a personal trainer can make is seeing education as an endpoint instead of an ongoing effort that should be exciting. You’ll be learning more about your field, and that knowledge will naturally help others.


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