When it comes to building a top-notch fitness facility that delivers results to members, a standard philosophy for personal training is often the missing piece of the puzzle.

Today’s trainer has many choices for certification: distance learning, classroom instruction, accredited vs. non-accredited, and fundamental vs. clinical, to name a few. In today’s environment, it’s critical for health club facility operators to understand what’s available to their trainers.

It’s no secret that membership recruitment and retention are common goals for health clubs. Industry insiders know that high retention rates strongly correlate with the quality of member services and club amenities. Because personal trainer services are generally among the highest revenue-generating sources for successful health clubs, it is crucial to evaluate the efficacy of your club’s personal training sessions. And, it all starts with selecting a qualified staff as part of a safe and effective environment.

Certifications

A “certificate” by definition is a “document providing official evidence of something, such as educational achievements, ownership or authenticity.” In any industry, this is exactly what certification accomplishes when it is earned through appropriate sources.

Personal trainer certification undoubtedly establishes a measurable standard for quality assurance when an industry recognized/accredited credential is established as part of the standard. But not all certifications are created equal. With different niche markets and educational scope, it’s important to understand how different certifications can complement each other in a way that suits the needs of a larger member demographic.

Certification itself should never really be challenged, but the manner in which one is certified can—and should—be questioned. The industry as a whole has advanced in recent years, and there’s no doubt that certification and continuing education offerings will continue to evolve with the industry.

Continuing Education

Personal trainers generally do not limit their education to one certified personal trainer (CPT) credential. Most successful trainers will pursue specialty course titles and take continuing education courses (CECs) to increase their knowledge base and scope. There are many sources for continuing education. Though continuing education requirements vary among certifiers, CECs or continuing education units (CEUs) should be viewed as an opportunity for continuous advancement. Trainers should be encouraged to find the educational source that best meets their special interests.

Holding an accredited CPT credential might be the minimum requirement for employment, but it’s the personal drive to improve as a professional that is the key to advancement.

Hiring a Personal Trainer: What Clubs Should Know

For certifying organizations, the overarching goal is to ensure that a safe and effective program design is appropriately taught and assessed.

For health clubs, the general guideline as a prerequisite for employing a personal trainer is at least the recognition of a National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited credential. However, the screening process should not stop there. Researching niche markets and learning the differences in fundamental scopes of practice specific to the certification program is crucial to the determination of how relevant a personal trainer’s services are to a club’s members.

Every industry has its risks, but health clubs take on specific liabilities that are generally the first consideration when opening club doors to the general public. While liability isn’t always tied to the personal training department, why take the chance on an unqualified trainer? Standards for safety should be maintained and enforced to minimize legal risk. The personal training department should not be taken lightly when it comes to providing a platform for safety, prevention and protection of club members (and the club itself).

Don’t allow one of your most lucrative opportunities—the personal training department—to become your weakest link. It’s a mistake that could cost your club dearly.

Learn more at www.nfpt.com or 800-729-NFPT (6378)

The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) has more than 22 years of experience certifying personal trainers. NFPT delivers fundamental and comprehensive approaches to exercise science methodologies, teaching skill sets for success.

NFPT is an advertiser in the April 2010 issue of Club Industry magazine and the May 14, 2010, Certification and Licensing Special Report e-newsletter.