Higher Education

Take a moment to think about how much the fitness industry has changed throughout your career. Whether you started five years ago or 20, there are always new fitness trends, programs and science that changes the way you engage with members. The fitness industry is constantly evolving and as a result, it is essential for trainers and instructors to seek out continuing education.

“The fitness industry is ever-changing along with the needs of customers,” said Jon Baraglia, the senior director of fitness at Fitness Formula Clubs (FFC) in Chicago. “Growing education to meet these customer demands is critical to gaining and retaining customers.”

As Baraglia explained, it is important for trainers and instructors to seek out continuing education, but it is also essential for clubs to provide these opportunities to their employees. At FFC, employees have a wide variety of educational options. “We have FFC University, which offers everything from customer service training and management courses for career growth, to personal training certifications and fitness workshops. We have in-house education gurus, and we also bring in top outside talent to teach continuing education courses.”

For a well-rounded member experience, it is important for all employees — not just trainers and instructors — to continually expand their knowledge base. Therefore, at FFC, continuing education opportunities are available to all employees. “The education focus is not specific to fitness, although our fitness education has become extremely robust,” added Baraglia. “Our free education opportunities and our reimbursement program extends to all staff members. We have career focused offerings for all. Since there is significant opportunity for growth in 14 different locations, we are always encouraging our team members to build their qualifications and experience for when the time is right.”

Jesse Grund, the owner of Perfect Movement Fitness in Orlando, Florida, is a first-hand testament to how continuing education can impact a business in a positive manner. The club offers personal training, small group training and seminars — all with a focus on each member’s natural movement patterns.

“We focus on movement,” said Grund. “We use that term to describe not just form and the exercise, but also picking the perfect movement to match your life. We prescribe the exercises that are perfect for the results each client needs. We coach movement, not muscle. It is about helping clients move better, because we have found that if you move better, you perform better, look better and feel better.”

Due to this approach, Grund became certified in TRX, because it fully embodied his focus on movement. As he explained, TRX is so much more than a modality. “People think they are going to a TRX course to learn how to use the straps,” said Grund. “And you are going to, but you are also going to learn the science of how to use the straps and how to incorporate it into a training program.”

Grund has completed every continuing education course offered by TRX. These trainings, along with his own knowledge, have informed the way he trains his clients and helps them to achieve optimal results.

As Michael Piercy, owner of The LAB and a TRX Master Course Instructor explained, continuing education is essential for the development of any trainer or instructor. “How would you feel if your doctor told you he never went to medical school?” inquired Piercy. “The only thing that distinguishes one professional from another is the level and quality of continuing education and how well they put it into practice.”

Getting an initial certification is a necessary way to start, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. “When you look at the education landscape, the basic certification is absolutely necessary, but it gives you little information about movement, biomechanics, nutrition — the things you need to develop a program for someone on a daily basis,” added Piercy. “Continuing education broadens your development. It is like going from a high school diploma to the graduate level.”

Both successful trainers and business operators in their own right, Piercy and Grund suggest seeking continuing education options that are targeted to your end goal. As a personal trainer, identify where you want to go in your career and seek the education that will help you get there.

“Figure out what you want to do and the demographic you want to work with,” said Piercy. “There is a temptation for people to go out and collect certifications. There are a lot of certifications I took that didn’t fit into my overall plan. Figure out what you want to focus on, and then tailor your education journey to that. In this industry specialization is becoming more and more prevalent.”

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