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What Is a Personal Training Certification?

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in health and fitness, a personal training certification will open doors to working in a fitness facility, coaching clients, and helping people live active and healthy lives. What is a personal training certification? This professional credential will set you apart as an expert who understands health, fitness, nutrition, and training strategies designed to help people achieve their goals.

Getting certified is a way to demonstrate the essential skills and knowledge that set you apart as a personal trainer. Your personal training work will typically include these processes:

  • Communication with clients and prospects
  • Performance of fitness assessments
  • Demonstration of proper exercise techniques
  • Creation of customized training programs
  • Motivation and encouragement for people to exercise and make healthy lifestyle choices

If you want to land a job at a gym as a personal trainer , most require a personal training certification. Certification is recommended if you plan to work at a smaller boutique gym, or open your own personal training business. This will give you more credibility when you’re selling to potential clients. 

Timeline for Certification

Earning a personal training certification will require you to make time for reading, studying, and preparing to the pass the exam. But unlike a college degree, earning this certification won’t take you years to achieve.

It can take up to six months to study and pass the AFPA Personal Trainer Certification exam. It may take longer if you pursue the Master Level Personal Trainer Certification.

Invest in You

If you’re wondering whether it’s worthwhile to invest your time and money into earning a personal training certification, consider this advice from personal development expert Brian Tracy:

“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”

Do you want to be the kind of personal trainer who changes lives through health and fitness? Start by investing in you.


How Much Does a Personal Training Certification Cost?

A survey of the market of personal training certification programs shows the average cost is $400 to $600 for coursework materials, study resources, and the exam.

It’s a significant investment. The AFPA Personal Trainer Certification program costs $499. However, that is far more economical than the cost of college or university tuition to study health and fitness. Many organizations that offer certifications also have payment plan options that can make a certification incredibly affordable.

For example, completing a personal training certification program through the University of Denver and the National Personal Training Institute costs an estimated $10,000. And it takes between seven to 10 months to complete the program.

Find the right certification program

Learning the essential skills to be a personal trainer is a critical step for every fitness professional.

But it’s just the starting point, says personal trainer and fitness business coach Dave Smith. Developing a niche within health and fitness can help you make a bigger impact versus taking a general approach within the industry.

Once you’ve earned your personal trainer certification, you may want to pursue other programs to get certified as a specialist:

  • Health and Wellness Coach – Help clients achieve their health and fitness goals using the principles of lifestyle medicine and behavioral change.
  • Trainer of Special Populations – Develop lifestyle and fitness programs for people who are living with a chronic disease, a handicap, or those who struggle with other mental or physical limitations.
  • Post-Rehab Exercise Specialist – Want to be the trainer who gets referrals from sports medicine doctors, surgeons, and physical therapists? This niche personal training certification program will give you the skills to help rehabilitation injuries as well as improving the health of your clients so they can manage or prevent disease.
  • Senior Fitness Specialist – Did you know there are 76.4 million Baby Boomers in the United States? That’s how many people were born between 1946 and 1964, which means all of them have reached the ages of 50 to 70 years. And they’re not as active as they used to be, which means they could use your help.
  • See AFPA’s Youth Strength Conditioning and other specialty certification programs that can help set you apart.

Wondering if it’s worthwhile to gain a personal training certification, plus specialization in a specific niche? In the words of Dave Smith:

“The most successful trainers are those who become an expert in a niche market.”

Your Path to Helping People as a Personal Trainer

Becoming a personal trainer is a highly rewarding career. Literally, you are changing lives one workout at a time, one healthy meal at a time, and one client at a time.

When you know how to assess the health of a new client, show people how to exercise with proper form, customize workouts, and motivate people to keep going, you will be the kind of personal trainer who changes lives and gets results.

Still thinking about earning your personal training certification? Now is always the best time to get started.


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