Functional Training Zones

Do We Need More Certifications?

By: Mike Boyle, MA, ATC

The past five years has seen a large rise in certification courses in the fitness industry. All kinds of fitness companies are jumping on the certification band wagon. You can get certified in any number of things by an ever-increasing number of groups.

This leads us back to the question in the title. Do we need more certifications? My answer is no, we don't need more certifications. I'm sure you think that's a strange response as Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning has just launched the Certified Functional Strength Coach certification. To be honest, I don't think we need more certification courses, we just need better certification courses.

It's not a question "do we really need another cert". It's about changing the industry and, raising the bar for education. The truth is many courses just give away what really amounts to a certificate of attendance. Pay your money, come for 8 hours, listen, pass a simple test and walk away certified. The proliferation of these types of certification courses is really what led to the Certified Functional Strength Coach concept. Very few certification courses require home study prior to attending or, require attendees to pass a practical exam to actually be certified. The CFSC course does both.

When we decided to enter the certification arena our goal at MBSC was to do something innovative, something that we could be proud of. We loosely modeled our concept after the National Athletic Trainers Association Certified Athletic Trainer concept. In order to become a Certified Athletic Trainer you had to pass both a written exam and then a practical exam. The practical exam is done in front of qualified examiners and is designed to show that you know in practice what you know on paper. In my mind that was what a real certification should be like.  (Authors note: I am an National Athletic Trainers Association Certified Athletic Trainer)

The Certified Functional Strength Coach certification is designed with a similar intent. In order to attend a candidate must first pass the written test. The written test demonstrates that the candidate has the theoretical knowledge to attend the practical day. Once the written test is passed the candidate then spends a day learning the practical concepts in the learning-by-doing format that Perform Better has popularized over the years. After approximately six hours of practical instruction the candidate must then take a practical exam administered by an MBSC examiner. The candidate must demonstrate the ability to both effectively demonstrate exercises and then describe progressions or regressions and/ or coaching points for that particular exercise.

Bottom line, we don't need another certification, we need better certifications. We need strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers who have practical ability that is equal to or better than their book knowledge. What we don't need are more "attendance certification" courses. The Certified Functional Strength Coach concept is Mike Boyle Strength and Conditionings contribution to raising the bar in the fitness industry. 

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(December 2014)