Why Continuing Education Credits Matter
CECs make a difference where it counts—with your clients.
You hear a lot about continuing education credits in our industry. Do they matter to today’s fitness professional? How does a CEC/CEU impact the daily life of a fit pro?
The answer may seem simple: When it comes to best serving your clients, education matters. The truth is more complex—and worth a little reflection. When pros consider getting certified or adding specialty certifications and then maintaining them, it’s valuable to have both a broader perspective and a personal interest.
Making the Right Moves
On the most basic level, the education you receive can help you be a more effective coach, instructor or trainer. Understanding anatomy, movement and biomechanics can give you insight to help your clients avoid injuries and get better results. Knowing the art and science behind behavior change can give you an edge with clients who are struggling with forces that seem to keep them out of control. Other specialty certifications equip you to best serve a specific client population. In short, continuing ed gives you variety in your profession and the power of choice in who you serve.
According to Justin Price, MA, 2006 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and creator of The BioMechanics Method®, certification and CECs are vital.
“Continuing education requirements are not simply an obligation. They provide trainers and instructors with the opportunity to take a professional, responsible approach to fostering the health and wellness of others. Yet, fitness pros often give little thought to their continuing education requirements. [They] end up taking whatever courses are available at the last minute to keep their certifications up to date. By understanding and planning CEC requirements in advance (and narrowing your education focus to a specialization area), you will be able to use CEC-approved courses to establish yourself as an industry expert.”
See also: The Strategic Acquisitions of CECs
Continuing Education Credits and You
Here are some compelling reasons why fit pros get certified and keep those certifications current:
Hiring Credibility. “Earning a quality certification shows your seriousness and dedication to the industry. Fitness facility managers and owners will likely not consider you for employment without one,” says Sherri McMillan, MS, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year and 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year.
See also: How to Become a Personal Trainer
Building Trust with Clients. “Our clients’ trust is of the utmost importance to all of us, says Rhonda Gann, a personal trainer with certifications inPilates, indoor cycling, kickboxing and step fitness. “These clients depend on us to stay abreast of the latest information available within our scope of practice on exercise, nutrition, exercise equipment, weight management and so much more. They look to us to have the knowledge to keep them as safe as possible while helping them reach their goals. They want us to provide new and challenging workouts that make the most efficient use of their time.
Differentiation. Specialty certifications can help you attract new clients in their area of interest and differentiate yourself from other trainers. But, as Christy Stevenson, fitness writer, educator, personal trainer, and freelance writer and editor, points out, you need to focus on areas that you love. “If you start from a place of passion, every other business aspect will fall into place,” she says.
Keeping Up to Date with Continuing Education Credits
No matter what primary certification you choose, CECs are part of your ongoing education.
“Most agencies require you to renew your certification every 2 years,” says Linda Morreale, IDEA’s educational product manager. “Some require 20 hours of continuing education credits to renew. But it’s different for every agency, so it’s important to know your agency’s rules.”
Whether you’re choosing ongoing education to keep your certification current—or simply because you want to stay informed and relevant to your client base, CECs are a smart professional choice.
IDEA Health & Fitness Association, the premier professional organization for all wellness professionals, offers unlimited free CECs to IDEAfit+ Members—through its print and digital publications, courses, and Listen & Learn Podcast. In addition, attending an IDEA event provides the opportunity to renew CECs during a weekend of in-person, hands-on learning—with the bonus of incredible networking opportunities that will expand your mind and grow your career.
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