Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Personal Training Certifications

Let me be absolutely honest with all of you. I am not a big fan of fitness certification, and if I had to choose between a certified fitness instructor who looked fat or a fit looking fitness instructor with no certification, I would choose the fit looking guy without any papers. Reason being, I have just heard too many stories of certified personal trainers who are fat and out of shape, and their clients…. Don’t get any better after 2 years (I wrote about this a while ago. To read that posting, click here) For this reason, I truly believe that a personal trainer is only as good as what he himself has experienced… so if he is fat (he has experience), he will probably be great at telling you where to eat your favourite foods. If he is fit, he will be good at telling you how to be fit. Just getting a cert doesn’t mean much in my books if you look like the only weight you ever lifted repeatedly was your TV remote.

Since I started Fitness Malaysia, I have been approached by numerous self acclaimed Fitness Gurus who all wanted to sell me their certification course. I always look at it with a suspecting eye and always found holes in the material and most are nothing more but marketing scams trying to milk money out of the booming fitness industry. Not too long ago, I met Kasey Akira, an ISSA certified fitness instructor from Alaska. As usual, he had a fitness instructing course he wanted to sell and so I went to meet him. I went with the same level of suspicion until he showed me his material – OK, pretty impressive. So I asked him some questions on fitness and exercise (which I usually do to test the validity of the program) and waited to see his answers. OK, so this guy really knows what he is talking about and could answer my questions. Impressive, but 1 last test. I asked him about results that I see in the gym but didn’t know the explanation as to why it happened (like why do you become stronger after taking a week off from the gym). So I asked him to explain. Guess what – he flipped to a page on his program and showed me a diagram and explained to me why it happens. It was a scientific explanation on how the muscles work and why you become stronger. Not just an opinion, but a scientific explanation. I was impressed. When I got home, I actually researched his answer and guess what… it checked out.

Being fully impressed, I called him again after that and we met a few more times and we are now working together to introduce his scientific fitness course to everyone in Malaysia. This course was designed by him, pulling together the wealth of knowledge that he has gathered through his studies and research over the past 10 years. We are tweaking the contents a little to meet the needs of Malaysians, but I truly believe, this is most superior fitness instructing course out there. So what is this course called? It’s called Am-FIT – American Fitness Instructing Touchstone. The course itself is broken up into 2 parts:-

1) Kinesiology and Biomechanics
2) Nutrition Science for Fitness

Once you complete both courses, there is a written exam and also a practical exam, where you will need to coach 1 individual while being monitored by the examiners. The coaching includes coming up with a work out routine and diet plan based on their needs and goals as well as coaching them through a full 1 hour personal training session. So you not only memorize a whole bunch of nonsense and then vomit it out on exam day, you actually have to perform it in a real life scenario. If you pass it, then, you will earn yourself a certificate. If you ask me, this is the kind of certificate that I would believe.

This course not only covers what gym rats should do, but extends beyond that. It teaches the whole science of training everyone:- from an old lady who just wants to shed a few pounds to professional body builders, weight lifters, power lifters, professional athletes (sprinters, high jumpers) to marathon runners. So when teaching you about how muscles work, the course covers the entire spectrum and not just body building and weight loss. In essence, completing this course, will make you competent enough to train professional athletes, if the need arose.

Since I am working closely with him on this course, I am currently attending the course as a normal participant. Why am I excited about the course? Well learning the exact science behind fitness and the reason for getting results we get are truly mind blowing. I no longer have to say “I don’t know why it happens, but trust me it does work”. Now I can truly explain to people why they get the results they get.

Just as a teaser and a preview on how good this course is, try answering the following questions. The real answers will be revealed in next weeks postings, but if you don’t mind, just post your answers as comments.

1) How long should you rest between sets?
2) Is being flexible beneficial to all athletes?
3) Name 2 exercises you can do to train your lower abs?

OK, I know I have been bragging about the course and how great it is, but I am just excited with everything that I am learning. But before I end this post, there are things that even Kasey does not know, and when he doesn’t, he always tells me he doesn’t know. He is honest about it. There are even parts of the course that say “Based on our current scientific understanding, we hold this to be true for the moment” Anyone who tells you they know everything about fitness is a liar. If you meet a trainer like that, run away as fast as you can.

Anyway, look forward to hearing your comments and of course, your answers to the question


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Aizan Suhaira said...

1) How long should you rest between sets?
30 seconds to 1 minute

2) Is being flexible beneficial to all athletes?
Not necessarily

3) Name 2 exercises you can do to train your lower abs?
Chin ups with knee ups

Err... did I pass? Anyway, I personally think having certification is extremely important if you want to be a PT. I don't know about you, but so far I've never seen a fat certified PT before.

To be honest, I'm thinking of attending some fitness classes as well but I don't have a career change in mind. It's more about gaining knowledge than anything else.

I love the fact that the certification that you're mentioning takes into account how to design a workout and the candidate also has to supervise a trainee when executing the said workout.

Very practical indeed.

Rajan said...

Aizan: Cant tell you the answers yet since i want to save it for the next posting, but i must say... Great effort. Never met a fat certified PT? You need to come to my gym. :-) but yes, this course really raises the bar to the next level.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

A fat certified PT who's able to motivate you is way better than a PT who listens. Hence the reason why i voted for the former.

Rajan said...

Kerp: Hi Kerpie, definitely a PT that can motivate you is better than just a listener. But as long as the fat PT can get you the results, its OK. Its when they cannot, then that becomes a problem. Motivation is part of the equation for results, the other part is the knowledge.

Anba said...

1. Between 30- 1 minutes but it all epends on the intensity of the set..if you're liftin aroun 50-60% of ur 1RM 30-45 scnds is enough

2. Not that important

3.1.lyin own leg ups
2.alternate knee ups lying own like bicycle

Rajan said...

Anba: Nice answers bro. Wow, looks like you are quite well versed with some of the Fitness Terms out there. Your answer for the 1st questions is very good, but you got to wait till next week to find out how you did.

Sorry... hope you can tahan.

DailyMuscle said...

No offense bro, but please tell me you are joking?
How would your home-made certification compare with
those that are continually evaluated and updated to ensure that it includes the most current research in exercise science? For example, would you eventually have your own labs/facilities to study/research exercise physiology? How will you keep today's fitness professional ahead of the competition? Will your trainers be in demand? Will you be recognized by IHRSA, which seeks to protect and govern the fitness industry?

Fat and fit aside, how would an AM-Fit trainer be able to address special populations? (senior
citizens, those wit med conditions, etc)? You do realise that fitness is more than just muscles, fat, and appearance right?

What happens if a client's heart stops beating halfway? What if a 60yr old obese diabetic hypertensive with lower back pain come to an AM-Fit trainer - does the syllabus cover enough to help this person?

Just some questions I think you need to ponder upon before u proceed, in my opinion.


Rajan said...

DM: Thanks for your comments.

Firstly, I think the term home made certification is rather in-appropriate... this is a scientifically developed course combining the knowledge of years of experience and various materials out there. there certainly isn't anything home made about it.

how does everything stay current? good question...well just like how all the other certifications stay current. I don't think the other certifications in Malaysia are running their own labs. We live in the information age, and the information is always available for those who look for it. granted, some certifications do come from a overseas body, but you can still stay up to date through scientific and medical journals. Like i said, if you are interested in knowing more, you can always find the information.

As for helping people with special conditions, that material is covered in the course. in fact the course does even go into detail on how to train older people. i know i didn't specifically specify it in my posting, but it is covered.... along with first aid.
i only covered the parts that i was personally most impressed with... which is the scientific material, as well as covering everyone from an old lady to a real athlete.

I understand your concerns and thank you for sharing. no 2 courses will ever be alike and there will always be debates on which is better and why the other one sucks.

For now, i still personally prefer this course over the rest that i have seen, which is just too basic or only focuses on what gym rats (old, sick and young) want. I have personally gone through the course myself and it is indeed very insightful.

Lexis Excellence said...
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Lexis Excellence said...
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Hello Rajan, I need looking for gym. where this gym?i want join there

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Misz Miera said...

Hey i know this was long time ago. But am thinking of taking a fitness cert. just to gain more knowledge. Not a career change..just yet. Is this cert official now ?

chasefitness said...

Good information. I agree with your thoughts. I find that the best certifications are very involved and a personal trainer can't really be "certified" just by taking some test. They need experience. I definitely think it helps to be certified in multiple categories too. Great Hub!

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drafzalsarwar said...

Where is this course again?... how much is it?.. does the najib goverment recognize it?..
Please advice... im very interested...

drafzalsarwar said...

Where is this course again?... how much is it?.. does the najib goverment recognize it?..
Please advice... im very interested...

drafzalsarwar said...

Where is this course again?... how much is it?.. does the najib goverment recognize it?..
Please advice... im very interested...

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