Just like doctors, nurses, teachers, and dietitians, continuing education for personal trainers is extremely important to keep up with the latest developments in the field and maintain the highest standards in helping people enhance their fitness levels and overall quality of life.
Similar to all other professional industries, continuing education for personal trainers is required by different regulatory commissions to ensure that personal trainers are adequately qualified to care for the health and safety of their clients. Staying current and obtaining your continuing education credits meets not only the mandatory personal trainer education requirements, but is also necessary to build upon your knowledge, and to learn valuable new techniques and programs, allowing you to stay ahead of the competition.
Most nationally-recognized personal trainer certifying organizations require that you renew your certification every two to four years. The industry average is 20 continuing education credits every 2 years or 10 to 15 credit hours every year. One credit is roughly the equivalent of one hour of study.
On average, courses that have continuing education credits of 20 units will cost somewhere around $500-$600. Individual specialized courses with 1 continuing education credit are available for $20-$30/credit. Some special certifications can cost anywhere from $200 to upwards of $1,000. With these types of prices, it’s no surprise that fitness professionals can spend between $500-$1,000 on average per year on just the continuing education requirements. In-person workshops typically range between $200-$300, but provide up to 8 hours of continuing education credits.
Some certifying organizations offer programs, such as NASM, allow you to pay a one-time fee to “certify for life” and eliminate the hassle of ongoing renewal fees. Bi-annual and annual recertification fees are usually in the range of $100-$200, so these programs allow you to save quite a bit of money over your career.
There are a variety of ways to get continuing education credits such as self-study, live workshops, and seminars, but by far, online courses are the most affordable and convenient as they allow trainers to study at their own pace and choose courses that cover their specific interests.
Special Areas of Study
Even the most highly-ranked national certifications may not cover all of the latest trends in personal training, so these certifications often need to be supplemented by specialty certifications and workshops to study and build a specific skillset.
Workshops are a good way to physically observe a practical application of the subject matter. Attending conferences and seminars can be expensive, but they tend to be amongst the best resources to learn from industry experts and thought leaders in the fitness landscape.
Continuing education for personal trainers does not have to be expensive, and affordable options include free webinars and following along with industry blogs that offer free wisdom and inspiration from top coaches and experts who share their training tips and advice. Building a social network online by joining forums and groups is also a form of continuing education as it allows you to share information and thoughts on social media and connect with other professionals. Even fitness magazines from magazine stands are inexpensive and will often provide a lot of useful information on current industry trends.
How to Identify and Spot New Trends
The fitness landscape is highly dynamic and new exercises, equipment, and techniques become popular with each passing year. Popularity may depend on a variety of factors including enjoyment and engagement, scientific or technological developments, as well as quick tangible results.
For example, CrossFit has exploded in popularity because of its unique open-gym setting, community-based experience, high-intensity workouts, and phenomenal results.
While group kickboxing and dance aerobics such as Zumba are seemingly as crowd-pleasing as ever, the most innovative workout trends that have experienced steady growth and are important in continuing education for personal trainers include:
- Movement-based training and self-limiting exercises to increase load on muscles and time under tension
- Full-body workouts and multi-joint movement training
- Body weight leverage training with climbing ladders, ropes, and push-up and pull-up devices
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Functional fitness training
- Customized classes based on skill instead of one size fits all
- Online and digital personal training with web-based health and fitness programs or apps
- Yoga for mobility and flexibility
- Worksite health promotion programs
- Injury prevention and rehabilitation programs
- Specialized exercise programs for chronic medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease
While traditional forms of training will always remain a staple, as a whole, the industry is moving towards these online-based personal training sessions and competitive, yet social, formats (such as Zumba, Yoga and CrossFit).
Other Types Of Continuing Education
Other areas of continuing education for personal trainers may include fitness nutrition assessment and coaching. This knowledge provides personal trainers with expertise in providing practical, relevant, and scientific advice on nutrition and establishes them as a valuable source of information to clients on how to improve poor food choices promoted by the multi-billion-dollar fast food industry.
Continuing education in fitness nutrition expands a personal trainer’s knowledge of creating actionable lifestyle changes for clients in order to promote weight loss and overall fitness.
Lifestyle coaching and behavioral change is another area of continuing education for personal trainers, where practical science-based life skills are learned to guide sustainable change in a client’s behavior using psychology to develop positive relationships with tough situations encountered in daily life.
Continuing education in weight management, orthopedic exercise, strength and conditioning for athletes, youth fitness, senior fitness, functional training, and mind-body holistic programs are other fields of study in which personal trainers can gain additional continuing education credits.
These new skills can be used to help clients boost energy levels, achieve sustainable weight loss, prevent muscle, bone, and joint pain, and improve balance, coordination, strength, agility, and speed.
Stay Ahead of the Competition to Build Your Fitness Business
The most talented and successful personal trainers have an ever-evolving skill set. It does not take clients long to figure out whether a personal trainer has taken an hour-long course and printed out a certificate or has spent years honing their craft. Continuing education credits from nationally-recognized certifying agencies are an essential requirement in personal trainer education requirements to keep certifications current, to increase career opportunities, and build greater income by keeping fitness professionals on the cutting edge of the industry.