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Most modern-day educators have recognized the importance of learning not just by reading, but also by putting what is read into practice.
That isn’t to say reading and studying is less valuable. As an educator, the great scientific philosopher Aristotle certainly prized learning theory. But he also valued hands-on learning as the necessary and reinforcing counterpart of “book” knowledge. The mastery of theory combined with the experience of real-time application is a powerful educational tool.
How does this relate to personal training credentials?
Exam-based certifications are awarded to trainers who read materials provided by certifying agencies, such as NASM or ACSM, or enroll in online courses covering that material and then pass that agency’s certifying exam.
But a growing number of aspiring and career-minded personal trainers are earning their credentials through classroom-based courses that combine the scientific theory of human movement and exercise programming with hands-on instruction and training experience in an educational lab setting.
The integration of classroom lecture and practical application allows scientific theory to come to life. In the classroom, teachers are able to make use of various forms of information delivery methods and media to accommodate varying learning styles. Lectures are presented both verbally and visually and are accompanied by class discussion and hands-on activities. In the training lab, students are exposed to a wide range of exercise equipment and training techniques, gain practice in the personal trainer role and develop the ability to design solutions for individual training scenarios.
In this type of educational setting, the right mix of subject matter is critical for the proper foundation. Personal training is approached as an applied science, where courses such as anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, biomechanics and nutrition lay the groundwork for applied courses in specialized skills, such as fitness assessment, program design, training adaptions and business development.
After completing their coursework, aspiring personal trainers are far better equipped for the job and for certification from any of the exam-based certification agencies. And they are likely to bring far more to the table as employees, too.
What are the advantages of hiring personal trainers with classroom-based education?
Personal trainers with classroom-based education are more likely to have successful careers, and the fitness facilities employing them will reap greater benefits in having them on staff.
Why? There are a multitude of reasons. One, these personal trainers require less of an up-front training investment by their employer and can hit the ground running from the very first day on the job. Second, their superior expertise results in higher client satisfaction and retention rates. This will also likely result in less employee turnover. If the clients are pleased and well served, management can better reward the trainer, resulting in increased job satisfaction. Finally, properly educated personal trainers create a safer training environment that translates into fewer injuries and reduced employer liability risk.
Aspiring personal trainers who select classroom-based training are generally more career-focused — they have selected personal training as their vocation and are less likely to be pursuing it as a temporary job or transitional employment. An applicant’s resume featuring a classroom-based education — with its more comprehensive scope of knowledge and experience — may indicate a more serious and better-prepared candidate for hiring managers.
Rachel Katzen is a marketing consultant who has worked with a variety companies in pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, retail and fitness industry. She is writing on behalf of the American Academy of Personal Training, a nationally accredited educational institution.