Are you sure you know what you’re paying for?

PURPOSE: To help you decipher between coaches who care about their athletes and coaches who care about a paycheck.


Letters after a name mean very little so get to know your coach and observe their passions

The education of your coach can mean all the difference.  Does their degree coincide with training? Or is this just a side gig until something better comes along?

Do your research and find out what certifications pertain to what types of coaches.

by Nick Serio CSCS, USAW-LV2, CPT, PES, CES

Don’t be fooled by letters after a name!  My son is 5 months old and while he is strong he certainly is not qualified to be a personal trainer.

The strength and conditioning industry (well really the fitness industry as a whole) is going through an identity crisis. 

There are so many fabulously intelligent coaches out there trying to exponentially increase the respect, clout, and professionalism of this industry, but are continuously undermined by the apathetic restrictions afforded by not having a governing body to enforce any.

Unlike many other similar professions (i.e. physical therapy, massage therapy, athletic training, etc.) the health and fitness industry does not require an individual to possess a licensure or higher level education in order to be qualified to work in this field.  Instead, as an industry we are held accountable by organizations that certify our professionals and then require continuing educational practices in order to maintain these certifications.  In theory, this should be a stringent enough practice. Unfortunately, the accreditation process for many of these certifications has become incredibly weak. This has led to many under qualified individuals having the potential to become Certified Personal Trainers (CPT) without having any real pre-requisites, knowledge, or value in their profession.  

The lack of restrictions and education requirements has been readily abused by mainstream membership gyms for years, capitalizing on the simplicity of contracting under qualified coaches in order to handle high volumes of personal training clients. This tactic is driving the price of their training down so low that people feel they can not pass up the opportunity, only to find out the person they are working with has nothing more than a high school diploma and is in between career choices.  This model elicits terrible training for the client, (i.e. training with an under-qualified coach) horrendous pay for the coach (i.e. due to lack of qualifications, the coach is held to low pay), and most importantly lack of value in the product (neither the coach nor client values the product because the client is under paying and the coach is being under paid as well).  Since this model is highly effective for creating large volumes of people training, many of these conglomerate companies are the direct lobbyist against an overarching governing body for the fitness industry. Having a governing body would undoubtedly fracture this model and cause exponentially stricter regulations on not only the company but each individual coach.  

Please note that this by no means encompasses all training facilities and coaches. The certification that my five month old son, Luke is pictured with is just showing an example of how easy it is to be fooled as an individual interested in personal training. If you saw this certificate hanging up in a gym, you would be convinced the trainer is credible, right? However, all it took to get this certification printed was to fill out a name, email address, and take a simple test over the computer. Never once did I have to show identification or prove my age, education, background, etc. 

So how do we know what is what?  What certification should I look for and how do I know if my coach is actually qualified or even values what they do?

I preface the following with the preceding statement! 

A certification does not guarantee that an individual actually has the ability to teach or coach! There are plenty of highly intelligent individuals who are not positive or productive coaches.

A great way to make sure an individual values what they are doing is to find out if they have any higher education in the field they are working in (i.e. an undergraduate, masters or even doctorate).  More than just representing knowledge learned, it forecasts the idea that this individual valued their profession enough to take more years out of their life and dedicate them to this practice. Therefore an individual with multiple degrees in a field indicates that what they are currently doing is their TRUE PASSION.  

As for certifications here is a list of some with their pre-requisites and standards next to them.  

The bolded certifications listed are the ones we require as a staff at Athletes Warehouse.

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