Weight a Minute

Don't be impressed just because a trainer is "certified." Clubs often have their own certifications—usually just a gimmick to pump up the appearance of the staff's credentials.

> The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and the National Sports Performance Association (NSPA) have also spawned a healthy number of trainers out there. The requirements of each of these are far less stringent than those of either the ACSM or NSCA. While most of the trainers who study with those groups lack formal education in health sciences, these four organizations do ensure a basic level of competence.

Jonathan, who once dreaded taking the challenging ACSM Health/Fitness Instructor exam, now serves as an examiner for ACSM, administering the practical exam to a new generation of terrified subjects. After completing a three-hour written exam, they're looking at Jonathan's smiling face for the next hour.

Flex Facts

In addition to the ACSM, there are other reputable organizations that offer certification for personal trainers. They include:

Jonathan, who once dreaded taking the challenging ACSM Health/Fitness Instructor exam, now serves as an examiner for ACSM, administering the practical exam to a new generation of terrified subjects. After completing a three-hour written exam, they're looking at Jonathan's smiling face for the next hour.

Flex Facts

> The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). This organization offers two levels of certification: Personal Trainer and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. The difference isn't worth noting here; suffice it to say that each is geared toward strength training. While the NSCA has gained nationwide prominence over the past few years—many strength and conditioning coaches at the college and pro level are NSCA-certified—some of the techniques it advocates are too severe for the beginner. In fact, some authorities (including us!) question the use of these explosive movements even for seasoned athletes. While we'll get into plyometrics later in the book, you can be sure that an NSCA graduate is more than qualified to help you.

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