T Nation

YMCA Personal Trainer Award?


I've got a fair bit of free time this year whilst I'm doing an MA before I go to law school next year, so I thought I'd get qualified as a PT just for fun and personal development. Obviously PT isn't going to be my main source of income, but it combines two things I enjoy - fitness and helping others - so I know it's going to be worthwhile.

The YMCA PT Award was the best one I could find in the UK.

Couple of questions:

1.) They gave me a reading list, but it looks like crap. I made my own instead based on recommendations on here and elitefts. Read about half so far. Any comments? Books I've missed?

science practice of strength training - zatsiorsky
starting strength - rippetoe/kilgore
facts & fallacies of fitness - siff
ultimate back fitness and perf. - gill
natural hormonal enhacement - faigin
siff - supertraining
kinesiology of exercise - yessiss
sandbag training - jones
principles for personal trainers - o'brien
under the bar - tate
stronger minds, stronger bodies - strossen
beyond brawn - mcrobert
dinosaur training - kubik

2). I got the course/module details in the post today. There's a fair bit on machines, bosu balls, circuit training, "core" work, fitness walking, etc., etc. Loads of you are PTs and I bet you had to listen to this to get your certificate...do you think I should just keep quiet in class about all the stuff I disagree with?


read mike boyle's website stuff before you laugh too hard in class about stability and core :wink:


I would keep quiet, read the bullshit they expect you to, then when you get certified you can do what you know is right.


Hmmm...so, you're saying that you want to become a trainer "just for fun and personal development"?

Honestly, I'm not sure that I like that idea. Now, the book list that you posted is a great list, and if you are applying the principles in those books (and this site) to your training and plan on applying it to your clients, then you'll be way ahead of a lot of trainers currently out there.

But, you don't seem to have the experience (only 1.5 years of training) or passion to make a really good trainer. What I mean is that knowledge is great, but without the ability to apply it, it's not worth much IMO.

And as far as the passion, think of it this way, would you want a doctor working on you who was just being a doctor for "fun and personal development"? Neither would I.

As a trainer you have a responsibility to your clients. They are paying you because they want to get results. Getting results out of them requires dedication both on their part and yours. You need to be willing to put a lot of time into designing and implimenting training programs specifically targeted at their individual goals and needs.

This means that you'll need to be able to adapt, troubleshoot, and expend a lot of energy in general. Training is not an easy profession, although if you are passionate about it, it is rewarding and fun.

I fear that the experience could end up leaving a bad taste in your mouth and a bad impression of trainers in the minds of your trainees.

One final thing to consider is that if you're really serious about seeing this through don't get the YMCA's certification. It's really only reconized by the Y, and like you stated above, they don't exactly promote solid time tested weight training advice.

You'd be better off getting certified through NSCA, ACSM, ACE, or AFAA. Those certifications will give you many more options in terms of where you can work, and tend to be at least better than the Y's.

In closing, this is just my personal opinion on the subject, and you can take it or leave it. Either way I wish you good luck.

Good training,



Great post, sentoguy.

I'd better be a bit clearer: by saying that I want to get certified for 'fun and personal development', I mean that this is something I'm very dedicated to and believe I would be good at...

1) Like most people on here, almost my entire free time is spent training or reading about training.

2) Over the past 6 months I've helped out 4 people for free, which has been very rewarding - especially getting a 55 year old diabetic lady off insulin injections and helping an obese guy lose about 45lbs.

3) I can outlift just about all the PTs I've met in commerical gyms in London, so even if I'm not that great, at least I'll be better than a lot of the clowns out there.

The way I feel about becoming a PT is summed up by the strong words for today...every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.

I think I'll take your advice about NSCA, though I'll lose my £265 deposit on the YMCA course. As I'm in the UK, am I right in thinking the NSCA course won't involve any classes? Won't it be just me booking an exam date then studying by myself to pass it?

Thanks for the help.

EDIT: I forgot to add the site for the YMCA cert...


Are they including all the organisations you mentioned when they talk about being the 'gold standard' and the 'original and best', or just making it up?

Also, the YMCA PT Award would have cost £2950, but the NSCA Cert, unless I'm mistaken, costs only the price of registering for the exam + whatever study materials you buy, so it could be just £195 if I just rely on the books I've already got. That's a HUGE price difference. Why is the YMCA so much more expensive? I suppose I'm just paying for their class tuition.