What Certification in Personal Training Should You Get? Part 3. The Importance of Internships

In part 3 of this series about the certification in personal training that you should get I’m going to provide you with details pertaining to the importance of internships.  If you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 I recommend you check those out first.

Part 1 is Jon Goodman’s opinions on certifications for personal training.  You can check it out here

Part 2 is a description of the major certifying agencies and details about their PT designations.  You can check it out here

We’ve also produced a personal trainer certification comparison


So why are internships different than certifications in personal training?

An internship is different from a certification because it implies much more. Certifications are garbage and the only reason to get ANY credential is if it

1) makes you more money

2) makes you better at what you do.

In the personal training world, I cannot think of a single “certification” that guarantees me you are even “average” at what you do. At the very least certifications just mean you won’t kill someone. Some say it shows you’ve proven a base level of (insert word. i.e. knowledge, skills, etc.). While this makes sense I’m not even sure if that “base” for many popular certifying bodies is even worth the money and time.

The tests for certification in personal training sometimes includes outdated science and misapplied paradigms. If your place of employment requires a cert, then get it. But if you’re getting a certification for personal training because you believe it’ll give you access to esoteric knowledge and skills you are woefully mistaken.

“If you’re getting a certification for personal training because you believe it’l give you access to esoteric knowledge and skills you are woefully mistaken”

Internships on the other hand CAN BE more of the same (read: a waste of time), OR, they can be priceless and give you a pivotal career experience. It all depends on where and who the internship is with. In general though I believe an internship will allow you gain knowledge, experience, and a thought process that matters much more in the world of absolute results.

In choosing your environment it’s important it’s important that you take a good and hard look at where you see yourself in the industry.  Identify who the leaders are in that type of training and see if they offer internships.

Instead of going into detail here about how to gain the most out of internships I’ll refer to a blog post that I wrote a long time ago for Coach Boyle when I interned with him.

So what do you do after the internships complete?

Do another one!

As simple as it sounds, this is one of the biggest mistakes I see from college students and other young professionals. They may have had a great experience somewhere and learned a ton. The easy trap to fall into is believing what you’ve learned is the ONLY way to do it or the BEST way for everything.


It’s simply not true. There’s lots of ways to skin a cat. Go find someone else who is dominating the profession and soak everything up from them as well. You’ll notice similarities and contradictions. Piecing it all together, taking the best from all worlds, and creating ultimate approach – THAT is when the learning begins.

In part 4 Charlotte Loa speaks about her experience interning at one of the top gyms in the nation, Results Fitness, and how to get the most out of your internship. Check it out here.

“At the end of the day, it’s ALL about what you know and how you apply it. Whether you get a certification to help with that is up to you.”

What do you think is the best way to go about interning?  We’d love to get your opinion in the comment box below. Please share if you feel this article helped you.

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