Purpose of personal trainingThe scope of practice for a personal trainer is to enhance the components of fitness for the general, healthy population.
Proper exercise prescription may result in improved body composition, physical performance, heart condition and health outcomes.* The decision to hire a personal trainer may be related to a perceived ability to facilitate these factors through proper prescription and instruction or factors related to motivation and adherence. A personal trainer pays close attention to their client's exercise form, workout routine, and nutrition plan.
Few studies have investigated personal training for men. Personal training in women has been shown to exercise behavior patterns, improve perceptual benefit-to-concern ratio for exercise (decisional balance), and increase confidence to choose exercise in the face of other time demands (scheduling self-efficacy).* Personal training results in higher strength, higher workout intensities, and higher perceived exertion during exercise in women. Although women working with personal trainers do self-select heavier loads than women who did not, the loads used are still below recommended training load percentages.*
Employment characteristicsThe profession is generally not restricted by venue, and personal trainers may work in fitness facilities, in their personal homes, in client homes, over live video, or outdoors. Almost all personal trainers and group exercise instructors work in physical fitness facilities, health clubs, and fitness centers located in the amusement and recreation industry or in civic and social organizations.*Personal trainers may specialize in a certain training type, training philosophy, performance type, exercise modality, or client population. In general, most personal trainers develop exercise prescription plans for aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and/or flexibility (anatomy)|flexibility training. With aerobic exercise prescription, personal trainers determine the type of exercise, duration of exercise, and frequency of exercise. For resistance exercise prescription, the type of exercise, total session volume, rest period, frequency, and intensity are determined.* Personal trainers may also be involved in prescription of stretching routines or other approaches. While some discuss nutrition, ergogenic supplementation, and spiritual practices with clients, there is debate within the industry as to whether it fits within their scope of practice and training qualifications.
AccreditationPersonal trainer accreditation is a process that provides certification of competency as a personal trainer. Qualification standards for personal trainers vary between countries.
AustraliaIn Australia, personal trainers may work independently with suitable insurance or choose to be a member of a registering body (Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia). The qualifications levels include; Level 1 - Certificate III in Fitness, Level 2 - Certificate IV in Fitness and Level 3 - Diploma of Fitness. These can be obtained from nationally accredited colleges (TAFE, Australian College of Sport & Fitness, Australian Institute of Fitness). Once working in the industry, trainers who are members of associations are also required to complete short courses to obtain continuing education unit|continuing education credit (CEC) points they need to keep their registration. A minimum of 20 CEC points every two years is required. Many personal trainers also have additional qualifications in weight loss, strength training, kid's fitness, and nutrition, which is in part due to the CEC program. CEC courses can cover a wide variety of topics such as different training techniques, nutrition, exercise styles, health conditions, physiology, lifestyle and rehabilitation.*
CanadaIn Canada, the main certifying bodies are Canadian Fitness Education Services (CFES), Canadian Fitness Professionals, Certified Personal Trainers Network, and Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology. CSEP requires a diploma or degree in the exercise field, most require experience and/or workshops. Ontario does not have any personal training regulation. Many personal trainers receive a CFES, CanFit Pro certification or an NCCA accredited certification. The National Personal Training Institute is the only private trade school, 500-hr Personal Training Program in Ontario.*
United KingdomIn the UK, there are several ways to achieve a personal training qualification. Most personal training qualifications are accredited through awarding bodies like CYQ (Central YMCA Qualifications), Active IQ (Active International Qualifications) and City and Guilds. These qualifications are generally delivered by Further Education (FE) establishments like colleges, or by private training providers. Upon successful completion of an accredited awarding body qualification, candidates become eligible for Level 3 REPs(Register of Exercise Professionals)status. University graduates with an appropriate honours degree can also apply to become a approved by REPs through Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) and Accreditation of Prior Achievement (APA).
REPs is the professional body for the UK health and fitness industry, and does not award qualifications directly. Most health and fitness qualifications endorsed by REPs vary in levels from 1 - 5, 1 being basic GCSE level and 5 being advanced specialized training professionals.* For a qualification to become eligible for endorsement by REPs, it must conform to the National Occupational Standards (NOS), which are set at governmental level by the Sector Skills Council (SSC) Skills Active.
United StatesA number of certifications are available in the U.S., although a number are not accredited. Most require a high school diploma, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification, and some type of examination.*
A 2002 investigation evaluated a random sample of 115 personal trainers using the Fitness Instructors Knowledge Assessment (FIKA) (which measures knowledge in nutrition, health screening, testing protocols, exercise prescription, and special populations). The study described that:*There remains no national legal restriction on the industry to date.
World Instructor Training Schools (WITS) is the only personal fitness trainer certification course accepted for 3 collegiate health credits through the American Council on Education (ACE).