In one of my summer courses we have recently become involved in an extensive discussion as to the value of certifications and licensing as
many other “professionals” are forced to go through in their respective
industries. You cannot sit for the APTA exam without a DPT curriculum
under your belt, you won’t be getting an MD without plenty of classroom
and lab hours, and you can’t become an accountant without a bachelors.
I tend to thing this is sound advice, but I do wonder how much good it
actually does the industry.
While I recognize the value in certification exams, I think we are naive to believe that they will truly help improve the image of the
strength and conditioning, personal training, or fitness industries. It
may be a step, but there is too much else to consider.
A certification exam might be good to weed out the truly undedicated, but we have to realize that despite good reputations, the
NSCA, NASM, ACE, etc are a single organization’s interpretation of
science (some old and outdated) that only requires a coach to
“memorize” and not “OWN” the information and pass a test. It is simply
a minimal level of education, that I believe all should have if they
desire to coach. That said, I don’t believe it’s going to make a coach
good because they have an X, Y, or Z certification.
In fact, I really don’t care if the coach has a masters degree, as I’ve seen little of that information translate to knowledge that
actually matters in coaching. Our anatomy courses are too basic, we do
not establish good enough critical thinking skills, nor do exercise
science curricula really provide a lot of useful content. Sure, muscle
hypertrophy occurs in parallel, acidity modulations impact the Bohr
effect, and aerobic respiration produces between 28 and 38 molecules of
ATP, but what exactly does that mean to an athletic development coach,
personal trainer, or therapist? Additionally, how hard was it to get
“C” marks in your degree and still pass with the same degree that a 4.0
What is best is to establish a free flow and open dialogue in the industry where critical thinking and discussion predominate without the
traditional “dogma” and emotion influencing people. I think this is one
reason why I really enjoy writing a blog as people are welcome to
freely disagree or share their own thoughts that augment my thinking.
Additionally, to enhance the quality of our profession, we need to
ensure, as a collective, that we maintain ourselves as professionals.
Like it or not, society deals with people who maintain themselves as
professionals so having an appearance that is strikingly different from
the CPA in the office next door may not be in the industry’s best
The establishment of a consistent set of terms may help enhance communication and advancement, too, as RNT is used to describe two very
different training modes by two separate camps. What is a hop, jump,
bound? Are they they same thing? In this case, I do think that a
certification process may be useful, however, as it is a business, it
may not be as easy to establish a single method. How can we
communicate across disciplines without having a working knowledge of
what they do and the terms that they use. Likewise, if the PT crowd is
dealing with two or more athletic development coaches in late-stage
rehab of their athletes and one person is doing RNT ala NASM and
another RNT ala the Functional Movement crowd, things get muddy.
How do you all feel about certifications?