What Makes Someone an Expert in Fitness and Exercise?

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Hop on your favorite social media platform and you’ll find a seemingly endless stream of exercise and workout content from certified personal trainers, exercise enthusiasts, and everyday users pumped to share their personal hot takes.

While these communities can be great resources for surfacing exercise inspiration, motivation, and know-how, it’s important to know who you’re turning to for what info.

Anyone can create a social media profile and start sharing information, says Frances Neric, national director of certification for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Indianapolis. “But what they’re saying doesn’t have to be scientifically sound.”

Seeking advice from the wrong person can lead you to workouts that are poorly designed, ineffective, or potentially dangerous. So, how can you differentiate who’s legitimate and who’s not? Who should you be turning to for what type of advice?

Here’s what you should know:

What Makes Someone a Certified Personal Trainer?
Unlike some professions (like medicine or dentistry), there’s no one professional society or board that oversees fitness training. Multiple professional societies offer programs to train fitness professionals.

And those seeking training can choose from a fairly wide variety of certificates and credentials from several professional organizations. When vetting an expert you’ll turn to for advice about exercise and working out, Neric suggests checking which organization has certified the personal trainer.

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