The best personal trainers in the world never stop learning. The worst personal trainers get their first certification and think that is all that needs to be done. If you are a new trainer, and wondering how you can be at the top of your game, I’d like to provide some tips on how you can continue to improve your skills.
I did internships at UCLA and Pepperdine as a strength coach, as well as at a wide variety of physical therapy clinics. I got my bachelors degree in Kinesiology. I can say hands down, I learned more in those internships than my entire four year degree. Don’t get me wrong, the degree is huge. It gave me the foundation to understand the science behind it all. The internships however, gave me ALL the practical applications. At the end of the day, application is everything.
I’ve seen some of the smartest trainers get nowhere because they spent all their time reading, but not enough time learning how to put it into practice. The best trainers in the world have both book smarts and street smarts. For example, it’s one thing to know how to program for an athlete. It’s a totally different ball game to now have a team of division I athletes (half of which are expecting to go pro), and be able to coach them through an entire session by gaining their trust and respect. It’s an entirely different skill set of itself.
As a blogger and long time listener of Mind Pump myself, I may be a little biased here, but it comes with good reason. To put it simply, I hate wasting my time. I’m the type of person who wants the MAXIMUM efficiency. Don’t give me a 500 page book filled with fluff when you can provide me with a one hour podcast that will tell you everything you need to know about how to work with a client. That is why I love podcasts.
If you find the right podcasts, you are basically getting a secondary education from the best of the best who have already made all the mistakes and streamlined their own best practices. It’s like a crash course internship. As long as you are following respected leaders in the field (Mind Pump, Mike Matthews, Max Lugavere, Layne Norton, Mike Israetel), you are getting the BEST education I’ve seen out there. No certification compares. Not only that, you get it for FREE!
While I knocked on books a little bit, I do still believe they carry great value. I think for those starting out, they are a great launch point, because they are a physical resource you can have on hand whenever you need to refer back. Especially now with the ability to download books, you can highlight and take notes that are easily searchable later should you need them.
If a podcast episode is the crash course, the book is the full semester. Use it to dive deeper into denser topics you want to learn more about and specialize in.
Sal’s book, The Resistance Training Revolution is the perfect example of a first book that allows you to dive deep into personal training, although any of the guys mentioned above have great books to choose from as well.
Certifications are great if you have specific topics you want to master. Do you plan to work with athletes? Maybe you should get your NSCA-CSCS certification. There are certifications from everything to injury rehab, working with older populations, to specifically just kettlebell work. Some gyms actually seek out people who have mastered certain areas this way so it’s definitely worth checking out.