CONTENT BROUGHT TO YOU BY: National Strength and Conditioning Association
In an ever-growing industry where new gyms and workouts pop up every week and guarantee that you can look like Jennifer Aniston or Brad Pitt, having a team of educated trainers is key to guiding and retaining members. Well-educated trainers help clients reach their goals and keep them coming back for more. A staff that keeps your clients satisfied keeps your business model strong and that keeps your bottom line happy.
As a club owner, you should strive to motivate and encourage your trainers to continually pursue learning through continued education. Your trainers represent your club brand, and their knowledge, client interaction and client experience are direct reflections on the club as a whole. Clients' successes or failures affect their relationships with their trainers and how they perceive your offerings. When clients can see desired results through their training programs, they also see the value in what they are paying for and feel validated by their decision to continue to seek help from your facility. Ideally, this positive experience will spread through word of mouth and help you gain new members.
It is up to you whether you make employment dependent on a certification from a nationally accredited institution or whether you offer pay scales that differ between non-certified and certified professionals. What's important is that both you and your trainers understand why continued learning is crucial for successful individual careers and business longevity.
A strong educational foundation and continued learning allow trainers to:
- Assess the needs of their clients
- Understand how to best help clients achieve health and fitness goals
- Develop successful, safe and individualized programming
- Adapt training plans to better fit clients' needs and goals
- Modify exercises for client skill and ability
- Understand different programming and trends, what works best for who and how to tailor for individual clients
An educated trainer doesn't just happen overnight with an online quiz and a printed certificate. Whether trainers have a college degree in exercise science or decide to specialize in strength and conditioning at another point in their lives, a foundation rooted in evidence-based research and hands-on training is critical.
Nationally Accredited Certifications Matter
The world of fitness education is vast. The Internet is full of educational resources and certifying bodies helping trainers to achieve their professional best. What's important is that trainers align themselves with a professional organization to help them on their career path and that they take advantage of the opportunities and support that the organization offers.
A variety of associations offer certification, membership, continuing education or insurance in the fitness industry, so choosing to align yourself or your trainers with one can take a good bit of research. Club owners and trainers have to look at issues such as training direction and philosophy, whether they will be working with athletes or individuals looking to improve their fitness, and if the primary setting is one-on-one or small groups. Each association and organization has its own strengths that will help lead trainers and your club toward better client engagement and retention. It's important for club owners and trainers to also analyze the reputations, affiliations and resources for professional development, as well as the cost and value of different memberships and certifications.
Nationally accredited certification is important for establishing a solid foundation in health and fitness because these certifications exhibit the highest standards in the industry, and the organization's certification processes and examination systems are valid. The organization's program and certification have met the stringent standards set by the credentialing community and are credible and legitimate. And at the end of the day, current and potential clients like to see credentials that carry weight behind their trainer's name.
Commit to Professional Growth
Although a certification is a solid beginning, building a successful career and keeping clients happy takes time and effort. Whether it's in the form of webinars or hands-on training sessions, continued education after certification is necessary. Aligning with a national association isn't just about earning credentials; it also is about taking advantage of the career support and learning opportunities that come with that association. Continued education enables trainers to stay on top of trends, fads and, most important, the latest cutting-edge research in human performance labs. Through an association, trainers have the opportunity to network with colleagues, learn from industry leaders and grow as professionals. Throughout their professional journey, trainers can transform from the student to the teacher and can pass their knowledge and experience to the next generation of trainers.
As a club owner, allowing trainers to take the time to attend classes, clinics and conferences goes a long way in showing your support for their learning. When trainers can come back from a clinic and immediately apply what they learned in work with their clients, it's an empowering moment, especially for new trainers. By the same token, clients appreciate knowing that the professionals they have invested in also are committed to their own professional growth to help clients achieve their training goals.
Learn for a Lifetime
The most highly sought-after trainers in the world didn't get to where they are by chance. They got there through hard work, determination and a dogged commitment to continued learning. No matter how successful a trainer is with current training styles and knowledge, they always have room to improve, and the best trainers and club owners make that growth a priority. By supporting continuing education, you will build a staff of trainers who are highly knowledgeable in the field, motivated to help clients succeed and dedicated to keeping your members coming back for more.
Scott Douglas, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) senior director of membership and business development, is responsible for delivering the strategy and implementation of NSCA's membership efforts as well as for providing leadership for the organization's national and international growth initiatives. For more than 15 years, his career has focused on integrated marketing across a wide spectrum of industries. Douglas holds an MBA from the University of Colorado and continues the learning process as an adjunct college instructor in management and marketing.