While perusing the Internet the other day, I came across a discussion in an online forum about what level of education should be required for personal trainers. When I began training over five decades ago, personal trainers didn't exist. The army and other military organizations came closest to having personal trainers with their physical training personnel, whose job was to ensure that military recruits were physically prepared for battle, including hand-to-hand combat. The personal trainer profession seems to have gradually appeared starting about 35 years ago or so. It didn't take long for several "certification" organizations to get into the act. These organizations "certify" personal trainers with the goal of providing them with some sort of educational legitimacy. Most such organizations require personal trainer candidates to pass a written test. Some even provide high-level textbooks that focus on exercise physiology and nutrition. This raises the question of just how much background education you need to be an effective personal trainer, which was the topic of discussion in that online forum that I looked at. Some of those participating in the discussion happened to hold doctorates in exercise physiology. Indeed, some of these nascent PhDs were personal trainers themselves. As you might expect, their position was that the more academic education a personal trainer had, the better. Yet in Gold's Gym in Venice, where I work out, some of the most financially successful personal trainers, such as former bodybuilding champion, Charles Glass, have no actual academic training in exercise physiology. Glass himself has a college degree, but it's in engineering. He relies instead on his years of training as an elite bodybuilder, along with his instinct as to what constitutes correct training style and form.
The truth of the matter is that obtaining a doctorate in exercise physiology for purposes of becoming a personal trainer amounts to self-flagellation. Complete overkill. So what exactly is the actual motivation to get such an advanced degree in exercise physiology? Many who obtain this degree started out as athletes or bodybuilders but wanted to get deep into the science of exercise. They wanted to learn more than could be obtained from questionable commercial-based sources of information, such as bodybuilding magazines. But if you do opt to obtain an exercise physiology doctorate in the real world your choices of employment are limited. You can do research related to exercise physiology and publish your findings in professional journals. Since such journals pay absolutely nothing for your work and research, you will need a day job. Indeed, the primary reason why researchers publish in such professional journals is that the higher status of being a published researcher provides them with grant money and also allows them to get jobs teaching at universities. In the meantime, the publishers of . . .