Fitness Business

F.A.I.R. - Forms, Assessments, Insurance, Records

When Starting With New Clients think: F.A.I.R.

FAIR - Forms, Assessments, Insurance, Records

Always remember FAIR when starting with new clientele. When first meeting with a prospective client regardless of your health profession you will need some form of a PAR-Q (physical readiness questionnaire) and/or a health history form. You can find these online. Upon the client filling out the form it is important you review it on your own first before meeting with them. There may be physical issues or medications you are unaware of and need to do your proper due-diligence on prior to sitting down with the prospective client. If you feel uncomfortable working with someone who may have ailments above your current level of knowledge in order to make the proper exercise modifications you should not work with that individual. This is where your networking comes into play as you should have knowledge of someone else who would be better suited to work with them.

When I meet with my clients in our first consultation after reviewing their health history form I still allow them to talk as much as possible. Doctors sometimes calls this the, “What else?” session. If you continue to ask “what else” you’ll be surprised to find the issues or ailments the client has or has had that they decided not list on the sheet because he or she believed they were not relevant. For instance, if they had broken their ankle 30 years ago they are unlikely to write that down on a health history form. However, there could be compensations such as foot pronation, knee valgus, pelvic twist accompanied by false leg length discrepancy just from something as simple as a broken ankle at the age of 17. 

Although I am a corrective exercise specialist I do not always enjoy playing what I call, “anatomical sleuth”, so it is important to understand all of your clients past injuries before doing your first assessment on them.  It doesn’t matter what your client’s particular goals are there are always ways in which you can do an initial assessment and track progress. This helps your client from a motivational standpoint and it helps you understand what is actually working with your program. If weight loss is their goal an obvious initial weight, measurements of specific body parts, and body fat measurement are in order (for body fat percentage I prefer bioelectrical impedance machine which you can get for $60). If you are unfamiliar with general assessments I urge you to start reading up on all the various tests (shark skill, Rockport walking, etc). You can also simply make your own up. I like to have my clients hold a plank until failure, and find the weight they can get close to one 20 reps set for each of the following: low row, chest press, and leg press machines. This allows me to gauge their overall strength levels in core, pushing, pulling, and legs provided the client’s goals and current health status align with that type of assessment.

Your company may provide you with insurance, but it is very cheap to double up and protect yourself. I do not recommend any particular company at this time, but the pricing should be between $8 and $15 per month. If you’re training in home clients, or even at a park and an injury occurs you could be liable. In this age of overly litigious people it is best to always play it safe. You can do your own googling to find out which company gives you the best rates.

Record keeping is important for both insurance reasons and your clients overall goals. To cover the former, understand that if an injury happens and you are being litigated against from a safety issue, having records of what you did that day or week could save you. For the latter, you want to check progress from days, weeks, months, or years passed and having records allows you to do that. For a fitness industry teacher who pre-writes out the workout this is easy as you just keep a copy. I personally do not write out my workouts, so I have to make notes in my calendar (google calendar where I keep all my sessions) if there were any issues that day as far as slips, slight injuries or tweaks, etc. Cover yourself. Keep records.

Which Personal Training Certification is the Best?

“If I don’t have any experience or certifications for Personal Training, how do I compete with others and where do I start?!“

You’ve already started. The fact that you are here is a step in finding the right path for you. However, I want to be clear and emphasize this;

Certifications/Education gets your foot in the door, they do not represent your actual skill set.

I have trained alongside people with who have their Masters in Exercise Physiology, and held a dozen top level certifications costing more than 5k collectively, who have had trouble booking 10 sessions a week. I have worked with Yoga instructors coming off of 2 years of specialized training who couldn’t fill a class of 8. I have worked with Registered Dietitians who averaged one appointment a day, because they could not connect with people on a psychological level.

You are stepping into an industry where people trust you with their bodies, and subsequently with their mental health also. Learning ways (which I go over extensively in my E-Book) and enjoying the process of building connections will be of much more value than endless certifications, most of which the paying clients won’t even be familiar with.

If you plan is to work as your own boss in your home or elsewhere, you may not need any specific certification. If you decide to work for someone, the business typically requires you have one. Which one? That depends on the specific business.

Do you own an I-phone or Android? After you answered that, you probably inferred that I was going to judge you on your choice. Why? Because people are tribal by nature and we instinctually pick teams.  Typically, the certification held by the highest level employee is the most respected for that specific business.

If I am a Director of a Fitness Facility and I hold an ACE certification for Personal Training, I know what ACE teaches, understand their concepts, and trust them. Therefore, I am more likely to hire someone with the same certification. That is why it is important to dig into the businesses website of your preferred studio/facility or call them to find out what certifications their managers or top level instructors hold.

I have a list of certifications in the Personal Training Industry at the very bottom, in an easy to read table ranking 6 different certs by their; Prestige, Price, and Difficulty (concerning passing their tests) and other useful info. Feel free to skip straight there. However, I also go into depth about the accreditation, continuing education (to keep your certification active), and general information about each if you are up for more details.


This shouldn’t be too much of a concern for most people, but I do want to explain the process behind this in order for confusion to be lessened here. The market of certifications for Personal Training is more or less decentralized. It can look like the Wild West from the outside, but there are some program steps and protocols that are set by what is considered an accrediting body. If the accrediting body feels the entity (i.e. NASM) has met certain standards of program development, professionalism, governing, and continued customer/membership responsibilities, they can be rewarded and hold this accreditation. On top of the initial accrediting, there are typically regular evaluations to ensure these entities are upholding the standards.

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits ACSM, ACE, NASM, and NSCA.

There are other accrediting agencies, but ironically in my opinion none in which have any merit to actually accredit. Furthermore, the legitimacy of the afformentioned certifications above typically hold more weight and clout with Fitness Directors/Managers hiring for positions.


NASM – (National Academy of Sports Medicine) The study options are endless for this certification which I deem the best overall. Starting with the NASM CPT text book, video guide, and online printable text. On top of practice quizzes (10 questions) after each chapter there is a comprehensive 100 question test prep exam. There are also online flash cards, interactive discussion questions, and 1-day live workshops. NASM provides top level customer service, and offers 6 months upon purchasing the program to pass their test. The test is proctored and taken at a local testing location.  

ACE – (American Council on Exercise) ACE is equal to NASM in its professionalism and dedication to members. It has a various resources that you can use to help you study. They also offer several online programs that will help you prepare for the test, including an exam review and practice tests. They have a competent resource center with Study Counselors to help you review particular questions you may have. It is recognized industry wide as one of the top certifications.

ACSM -  (American College of Sports Medicine) This non-profit has three resources here you can get through the established and well respected program. ACSM’s Resources for Personal Trainers, ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, and ACSM’s Certification Review. They also offer an adaptive quiz platform for studying, and charge a bit less than the previously covered certifications.

ISSA – (International Sports Sciences Association) ISSA will send you a hardcopy along with an online copy of the main course text, a study guide and workbook, practice exams, a reference DVD, web support and social opportunities, and an animated online exercise lab that will give you the key information on 250 exercises. A marketing and business guide is also given which is unlike many of the other certs

NSCA -  (National Strength and Conditioning) NSCA-Certified Personal Training certification course really help trainers design safe and effective exercise programs. The have great study materials, including NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, workbooks, practice exams, multimedia CDs, and audio CDs. The safety guidelines are top notch and they go into depth concerning essentials such as modifications and assessments, training special populations, and even exercises programs to use.

IFTA – (Interactive Fitness Trainers of America) This is a lesser known certification, but one worth looking into. They are not nearly as established as the other certifications. However, they do a fantastic job with their CPT on-site one day certification. You are sent a hard-copy book in advance to study. The day of you meet at a location to go over test prep questions. After review and the subsequent taking of the exam, you do a small practical in the fitness facility. They demonstrate a true hands on feel and mimic day to day personal training. It is by far the least expensive also. If you plan to work out of your own home, or just part time this isn’t a bad certification to start with.


Personal Training Certifications Ranked

* Information accurate as of 9/18/18

* Information accurate as of 9/18/18

Becoming a Fitness Instructor: 5 Important Factors

Becoming a Fitness Instructor: 5 Important Factors

1.       Just Get Started – The process is going to take time, I am here to help expedite it, and skip some of the “mistake phase”. However, there is no use or advantage in putting off taking the first plunge. Well Steve, what is that first step? You’re already doing it!

Research. We will talk about timelines in the course, but doing your research in order to map out your timeline is vital.

Find out; what fitness medium drives you, similar businesses/people who are doing it, community activities/businesses that overlap, certifications/qualifications that are needed. From there, we can map out our timelines, and look forward to the next steps.

2.       Shadow/Network – Even if you do not have a specific qualification, you can always shadow. Fitness professionals are a very inviting community by nature, as we all joined this profession to help others.

Find local gyms, studios, coaches, etc, and tell them your story, and your interest in jumping into the industry. You will find that people are excited to take you under their wing and teach you. Even a few hours a week will really give great insight into developing your next steps.

3.       Find your niche – Now that you’ve done your research, and started networking/shadowing, you can begin to assess the good and the bad teaching styles and fitness approaches.

Start to develop a mental picture of how you would run your ideal business, and the styles in which you would use.

This will help guide you on your path to differentiating yourself. I enjoyed helping clients break through the psychological boundaries in order to meet their physical goals. So, teaching large classes was not for me as I needed 1 v. 1 training to build stronger connections. It took shadowing and observing business models to come to grips with that.

4.       Fundamentals – Always understand the base fundamentals in your fitness realm. You will continue to grow and learn as you come into contact with various clients and other fitness professionals, but you need to show a mastery of the basics in order to convey your professionalism.

Safety, physiological basics, and theories/concepts. If your goal is to be a Yoga instructor and you don’t know 8 key poses, and the muscles working/stretching in those poses you are still in-between step 1 and 2.

5.       Focus on clients – The money will come. You have to first focus on helping people. The positive and altruistic energy you put out will in turn get you clients, which will lead to the $.

Too many times, people turn down small group classes or training sessions that don’t pay what they expect, not knowing what they’ve really lost was the experiences and opportunity to procure client(s) for life.

We will discuss the 80/20 theory in the course, but most of your money will come from a small percentage of your overall clientele. You have to be of the mindset, that each person/class could be the one in the future that provides most of your earnings.