With the personal training profession on the rise, differentiating yourself is increasingly important. Naturally, you hope that your professional qualifications will do the trick. Thus, you may feel the urge to continue adding certifications to your portfolio to outshine the competition. But, is two really better than one?

The answer is tricky; because it depends. You must start with two questions: 1) What certifications will you be adding? and 2) What are you trying to accomplish?

Obtaining multiple base level certifications for personal training, unless to move from a non-NCCA accredited to an NCCA accredited organization or from a lesser recognized certification to a more recognized certification, may not net you much benefit. Most personal training certifications provide the same general information on exercise science (theory and application), overview of screening and assessments, basic nutrition, and the like. While each organization’s approach to programming may differ, the basis will be the same.

Each year, it’s important to engage in both formal and informal continuing education work (live workshops, online courses and articles). These shorter pieces can help you stay abreast of any changes or updates to your base level of knowledge, as well as open your eyes to new programming concepts. It will also help you explore new areas before you dive head first into a longer course of study. Fill up on this type of information, but when you start to hone in on your preferred target market and identify the number one result you want to provide for this group, it’s important to start choosing your education with a bit more focus.

One area of study we should all be exploring is behavior change. And, even more specifically, methods for creating sustainable behavior change. Even the best programs and products in the world will fall short if we can’t crack the code on getting a larger number of people to stick with the wellness journey. A great book to start with is No Sweat by Dr. Michelle Segar.

When it comes to creating a smart educational path, decide if you’re interested in adding services for your current target market or you’d prefer to repurpose your current offerings to service new target markets. If you are passionate about the service or products you provide (e.g. a certain type of program), seek education that will help you become knowledgeable in a new target market. But, if you are passionate and connected to the target market you work with now, stick with it and begin researching other services or products that could enhance the results you provide.

Shannon Fable is a fitness business and programming consultant who has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn, Power Systems, ACE and BOSU over the last 20 years. As an experienced educator and certified Book Yourself Solid business coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. www.shannonfable.com

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