Choosing certifications and organizations

As a fitness professional, there are so many different routes to consider when it comes to the type of training style used and desired certifications. Many times, the styles we choose and the organizations we choose to affiliate with are influenced by education level, area of interest, previous experiences, and certification requirements for potential careers/jobs. In my opinion, when it comes to certifications quality is always better than quantity. If you are a fitness professional, use your time and money wisely and get a certification that will be beneficial long-term for both you and your clients. If you’re interested in getting back in shape or stepping up your fitness program with the help of a trainer, make sure you’re hiring a qualified professional with sufficient knowledge and skill.

The certifications I have chosen so far have been a direct result of my education, interests, and future goals. I have an undergraduate degree in Health and Exercise Science and am currently working toward a Master’s of Science in Health and Exercise Science (expected graduation 2015 YAY!!) I grew up playing all kinds of sports and have a passion for sports performance. I even worked for a national championship team as a team manager for a year during my undergrad! Human athletic performance is exciting and it’s easy to see why so many people have goals of becoming a strength and conditioning coach. However, my passion is not adding another centimeter to an athlete’s vertical. Rather, my passion is to help the average Joe (think about Gary in accounting) live a healthful life free of disease and injury.

Physical health is necessary to live a healthy life but we must not forget about our mental and spiritual health as well! I haven’t always respected the importance of spiritual and mental health, but as I’ve matured and experienced more stress, its importance is clear. When I entered college I immediately was so overwhelmed. I wanted to transfer to a smaller division school, but my mom encouraged me to continue where I was (Thanks mom!). In order to help with my stress I enrolled in a yoga class and I fell in love! Yoga is a way for me to center my mind and my body. It allows me to quiet my mind so that I am able to focus on the issues that REALLY matter. I was instantly hooked and have practiced yoga ever since!

That being said, my certifications are pretty self-explanatory. I am an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and a Registered Yoga Teacher 200 (RYT200) registered with Yoga Alliance. My background in anatomy, physiology, and exercise science prepared me for my NSCA certification test really well! However, I must warn you: if you plan to take the NSCA CPT or CSCS test, they are pretty intensive. So, make sure you take sufficient time to study.

My yoga certification was a 10- month program and consisted of 200 hours of course work. I absolutely LOVED and thoroughly enjoyed every second of my yoga certification process. I was able to meet so many interesting people and I learned from each of their teaching styles as well as developed my own. Of course, my teaching style continues to evolve as my body and physical needs continually change. I have been teaching yoga for three years now, but I am still very much a student of yoga. 

When choosing certifications and organizations:

1) Go for quality rather than quantity

2) Consider future career/job interests

3) Choose an organization that is representative of your training beliefs

4) Choose an organization that has a strong scientific base

5) Make sure that you are able to keep up with CEUs of the organization/certification

I hope you find this post helpful!

If you have any questions or have additional advice for fitness professionals, please comment below!  

Thanks for stopping by!


3 thoughts on “Choosing certifications and organizations

  1. Hey Cait!

    So I’ve been randomly following your blog (which I love and makes me miss you quite a bit) but this post is particularly interesting to me ….. so I have a few questions.

    My career path is to study and research exercise as a way to reduce anxiety, depression, and PTSD. However, due to this interest, I will have to continue on in a different program for my Ph. D in Clinical Psychology. I am finally going to take a year off from my endeavors and constantly hectic schedule before pursuing an additional five years of graduate school (after two… seven years of graduate school just seems so daunting to me as of right now). Now, this leads to my question! I feel like having a certification in personal training will not only give me a second income but also benefit my specialization in psychology. So can you give me advice on what to look for, if you think this is wise since you are actively in that profession, and what is the cost of such program?



    • Oh Shling, I miss you too!
      You’re such a go getter! I too am very interested in exercise psychology. I’ve considered pursuing a PhD in sports psychology.. but that that’s a long road for me. haha

      Personal training can definitely serve as a second income and usually a pretty good one! Although, a busy academic calendar may leave little time to train clients on a consistent schedule. I suggest finding X amount of hours/days a week you are willing to train and sticking to them. It’s always tempting to stretch your schedule when money is involved, so be thoughtful of that.
      When choosing a organization to become certified with, I would suggest choosing one that is highly respected such as ACSM or NSCA. They are the “standard” in their field and you are able to get a job at nearly any gym with these certs.
      As for as cost, there is a monthly charge to be a member of any organization (usually around $100-$200) and the exam prep material can run you quite a bit of money too ($$$-$$$$). I suggest asking around to see if people at your school have already purchased the study materials. As for as exam cost, they cost around $200-$300.
      Over all, if you think you can make enough money to cover start up costs, then it may be a good option for you.


      Miss you Shling!

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