T Nation

Want to Begin Personal Training


I'm a freshman in college and our Uni gym is teeming with PT opportunities. I have more common sense, understanding of kinesiology and experience than most people already working there. The only difference is that they have a license.

I want to get a PT license, but I don't know which one to go for. I want to take a course that will actually teach me something instead of attempt to indoctrinate me into the BS that PTs peddle to their clients routinely.

Qualifications: previous personal training experience, experience in developing comprehensive, customized exercise programs, knowledge of anatomy and physiology, knowledge of strength & aerobic training, flexibility, exercise selection & training intensity and duration, good communication, national fitness certification (ACE, ACSM, AFAA or equivalent), first aid & adult CPR/AED. Starting rate: $12.00/hr.

The obvious issue is that I also need to have previous PT experience somewhere else. Which certificate/license program is most versatile and advantageous in this situation?

I was thinking of following up my initial license with certification from West Side Barbell. http://www.westside-barbell.com/westside-certification/

What do you guys think?

Thanks in advance,


For the most part any cert will do. They're all pretty basic. What separates good trainers from run of the mill trainers is the additional research they do and actual time under the bar.

There was a good article here on T-Nation about the different certs and where they focus their coarse.
How to Become a Personal Trainer by Tim Henriques

I will tell you that it's about making money (it's a career right?) and the busiest trainers look the part. Remember, people go to trainers because they don't know shit. They also don't know what makes a great trainer so they go based on looks.


Have you considered becoming a certified crossfit trainer?


He probably wouldn't pass the entrance exam. Entrance exam being a door 5' tall and 1 1/2' wide.


That article was pretty helpful in answering some questions. I had no idea some of those certifications required a college degree, that's pretty cool seeing as how I'm going to school right now trying to attain my degree in Physical Exercise Science.

Like the OP I'm interested to know as well which PT courses people here haven taken themselves that were legit, no BS that actually increased their knowledge in the field.


Just as a heads up, and something to keep in mind when speaking with potential employers, technically-speaking, PT is generally understood to be short for physical therapy.

With that said, Tim Henriques' article gave a pretty good look at some of the more notable organizations, but I was kinda bummed he didn't discuss the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association).

I was first certified through them many moons ago and I'm pretty sure they're still a fairly solid organization. It was co-founded by powerlifting legend Fred "Dr. Squat" Hatfield, and Charles Staley was, at one point, involved in curriculum design.

You should also definitely check out Cosgrove's two-part article about being a fitness professional:

I'd also none-too-humbly suggest that you take some time to read through this multi-year/multi-page thread where a bunch of the trainer/members here talked about the day to day issues of the trainer's life:


This thread has turned into something much nicer than I expected. Thank you guys!

Time to get down to reading




I suggest you go to the place of employment you want to work at, and ask them the possible certificates that they will accept. Once you figure out which certificates they will accept, figure out which one suits you the best and study for the test.

After you receive your certificate, I suggest you forget everything that you learned because most of it as Rippetoe calls it is conventional wisdom; you will be missing common sense. That is what you need to succeed.


P.S. Be brave enough to only take people willing to work, I am sure you would rather have someone that is going to work and make you look good.


Haha yeah it did, I've been meaning to make a post about this for some time now, you beat me to it. I have a feeling it wont be a easy road but as long as I'm enjoying it and seeing results with people I'll be more than happy to head to work everyday. Not to mention every trainer I know now get's to workout for free at the gym they work in lol, a definite plus.