Education vs. Experience: Which Holds More Value?

Last week we talked about leadership and enthusiasm as essential components to building your own code of conduct. If you’re making a list of other traits and qualities that are important for a personal trainer to have, Education and Experience are also two vital must-haves in the fitness industry.


A good salesman is a salesman who knows everything about his or her product or service. The same goes for the fitness sector. A good personal trainer needs extensive knowledge in the areas of fitness that directly apply to their client’s needs. A knowledgeable trainer is a confident trainer.

There are institutional educations, vocational courses, and certification programs available. All credible programs have some degree of standardization. The standardization is generally in preliminary client screening procedures and risk factor identification. It is up to you to determine what type of education will provide the insight most adaptable to the services you provide. Pursuing education from multiple programs will provide a well-rounded education. This is highly recommended.

Consumers have had it up to here with false supplement and fitness product claims, infomercials, and other useless fitness services. Be prepared for a prospective client to quiz you on your education. You can bet the type of education and professional association you have earned will be a topic of discussion (and rightfully so.)

Take it upon yourself to research various education programs. Consider enrollment in one or more of these programs. Stay ahead of your competitors. There is no substitute for knowledge.

Now the question to ask is, “Does experience bring more value than education?”


Some people place more emphasis on experience than on education. This is because experience is one of the best teachers in the world. An educated trainer with no significant experience could find him or herself lost on a gym floor. It is equally true that an experienced trainer with little in the way of a formal education could fail to identify various risk factors. An inappropriate fitness prescription could lead to possible injuries.

Experience doesn’t just breed self-confidence. Experience also begets client confidence. When you know what you are doing it will show. You will command the respect and admiration of your clientele, as well as your peers.

As we’ve seen, the attributes necessary to be a successful personal trainer can be learned and acquired. Utilizing these four attributes (leadership, enthusiasm, education and experience) as the foundation of your personal training business will surely catapult you toward success. Use these as your foundation for your personal code of etiquette that will guide you to become the best personal trainer you can be.


Ron Clark is the Founder of National Federation of Professional Trainers, NFPT. From U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant to Competitive BodyBuilder, then Firefighter and Certified Personal Trainer - he founded NFPT in 1988 with a mission to make fitness training careers accessible to every day fitness enthusiasts who want to turn their passion into their livelihood. Ron has always led with a heart of service, and, in that spirit, he helps people to achieve real and practical career goals that serve a greater good in changing people's lives. He lives and leads by example, being a personal trainer himself for more than 10 years before setting out to develop a certification program that is real-world and foundational to the goals of personal trainers and their clients. Click Here to learn more about Ron's story and NFPT's inception.