I hold a few of these ‘soft’ certifications such as NASM CES and FNS. Considering the difficulty of the test, there was little ‘soft’ about them.
In order to sign up for any of those, it is mandatory that one holds an accredited certification. From that perspective, it is clearly marked as an add-on, and here in our profiles, they are labeled for what they are.
Clearly, they are designed to be a money-maker for the organizations that can only train so many personal trainers. ACE, for example, recently renamed its former ‘Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant’ to ‘Health Coach’. I did not mind that one way or the other until they all of a sudden offer a specialty for ‘Weight Management’.
Yes, they are a form of continuing education but one that is highly focused in one special area. When I, as a personal trainer, market myself as having experience with low back pain, for example, then a CES specialty certification will give credence to this claim.
Personally, I like the option of having highly visible continued education credits. Personal training is a field with many claims of knowledge. This new field gives more transparency to the end-consumer, and I am therefore in favor of it. I would, however, only pursue this form an organization that itself is NCCA accredited.
This will probably elicit many strong opinions, however, when I took my first AFAA credential I honestly felt it was “soft.” Remember, perspective is everything.
This is in no way meant to demean the work that AFAA does for the industry. I am simply comparing what I needed to do to earn my kickboxing and cycling certification through AFAA and what I had to do to earn my YMCA certification.
To this day, I am able to verify my YMCA credentials yet I have have never been able to confirm my credentials or the credentials of any AFAA certified professional online. For this reason I consciously allowed those credentials to lapse. Maybe I am doing something wrong. Even if there is a practical component to a certification course, it does the public or prospective employer little good if one’s credentials cannot be verified or if one has to jump through hoops in order to have the credentials verified. For me that is “soft.” To this day an AFAA certified professional credentials cannot be verified on this site or for that matter on AFAA’s official site.
I believe if we are going to begin criticizing the decisions of organizations whose aim is to do their part in educating fitness professionals one opens oneself up to the same criticism.
Whether or not the certifications are “soft” the good that I am able to see in the vast majority of certifying bodies is that they are doing their part to educate the fitness industry.
I am in no way bragging about my very small accomplishments, however, I have earned certifications in three countries and each country has it’s own standard. Up until recently, none of the credentials that I have earned in the United States are recognized in Europe. The only exceptions are credentials through the American Council on Exercise. They are recognized through the European Health and Fitness Association. For me that is something to be proud of and they offer what one would consider a “soft” certifications.
AFAA thank you for posting your blog and your opinion on this topic and I look forward to your response.
I agree with both Karin and Joannes opinions on this matter.
My personal professional opinion is that there are no mandatory certifications in this field period.
I have expressed this frustration many times on this site.
Until or unless we have licensing or a specific policy or mandate that we must follow, we are at this point able to pick and choose as we see fit.
Take a look at ZUMBA, and Crossfit. These are huge money makers, nobody can stop them.