I’m at the point in my academic career where I’m pursuing college coursework in Exercise Science. I am also studying to become certified through ACE as a Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach. I was looking at the Answers Leaderboard and looking at the “formal” education level of the top 10 answerers. The majority of us either have college degrees or have completed some college. Of the top 10 answerers, less than half have one or more degrees related to fitness or health. It seems as though in this industry, experience (years in the industry) will outpay you faster than higher education. Do you forsee this trend continuing?
In your opinion, what kind of continuing education is “more valuable” or “more easily marketable” today in the world of health and fitness? Were you to hire a trainer for your studio, would you prefer someone with formal education or a trainer with a few (or many) nationally accredited certifications, professional memberships, and plenty of experience? Where do you think time and money would be best spent on continuing education when looking to advance one’s career in the industry?
I am glad you asked that question because it forced me to review things I had not given much thought lately.
I come to the fitness career from a different path. My original education was in Germany, and I did not come to the USA until I was 34 years old. At that time I was pursuing a professional career with IBM as an international assignee, and fitness was something I did in my spare time. It was also my intention to return to Germany and teach even more computers how to find files and other important things.
Marrying and immigrating to the USA prompted me to review my plans and opened a window to a new world, and I decided to pursue a fitness career. Because of my educational background, sorting through my official credentials to go to a college in the US seemed daunting, and a personal trainer certification (my first one was ISSA) seemed a lot easier.
I gave this elaborate preface to explain why the ‘formal education’ was not even on my radar.
Obviously, over the years I have studied, studied and studied some more. Some of those studies resulted in more certifications with a piece of paper that says so. Many more of my studies has helped me with my personal development, and at this point in time, I can no longer make a distinction between personal and professional. As a trainer, I come as a package with official credentials and then all those intangibles which – I believe – ultimately helped me achieve the success I have.
If I were to hire a trainer, I would, of course, look at the certifications as the backbone of his knowledge and to determine how serious this person takes his job. After that, though, I look at the person and the experience behind it, the approach he or she takes to new situations and the skills in communication. You can always teach a person where muscles originate and insert, but you cannot teach personality.