Professional Growth

“Give people the benefit of the doubt, until you begin to doubt their benefit.”

Circa 2013: As the resident bastard I was tasked with having a hard talk with another trainer.  The digest version is that the trainer was working well-below their supposed abilities as stated on their resume’.

Me: “What was the last educational course you took, and when was it completed?

Her: “I’ve been a trainer for 5 fu-king years!”

Me: “From what I’ve been seeing you’ve been a trainer for less than 1 year and on repeat since.”

She quit a few days later. I guess I have that effect on people.


A certification, or even a degree for that matter, suggests but doesn’t guarantee that a trainer knows what they are doing. It also doesn’t mean any meaningful education followed afterwards. What it shows is that a person passed a test at or above the minimum standard. (1)

Standards themselves are not quite what many think. Although often touted as “superior” by the holders, NCCA accreditation covers only the administrative portions of a certification.  It does not measure test difficulty or the accuracy of tested material. This is partly why certified trainer tests vary in relative testing difficulty. (2)

Personally, I’d like to see a reduction in the number of credentialing agencies and a higher emphasis on continuing education.

I’ve openly told students that my training is continually evolving. I believe I’m a better trainer in May 2018 than I was in January 2018, and certainly better than I was in May 2013.  I fully admit that I’ve changed my mind on a number of subjects over the years.

What remained unchanged is my adherence to the basics and the fundamental principles of training.  I would offer that ones ability to apply their knowledge in the real world and produce repeatable results is far more important than ones certification.

For professional growth, I suggest the following:  

Learn from the best. If in doubt, start by looking at who other top people are learning from.

YouTube is handy, but it doesn’t replace experiential education.

Hiring a specialist to train you is a good thing, and doesn’t make you less of a trainer.

Learn how to properly use your tools…but don’t get married to them.

Certification was the starting point. Consistent education, applied practice and a healthy obsession for increased knowledge is what sets you apart from others.

(1) Historically, NSCA,ACSM and NASM have all been noted for having relatively difficult exams with higher failure rates than other NCCA trainer exams. That said, holders of these certifications are not automatically better than non-holders.




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