We’re in the middle of a HUGE launch: our first full-scale certification offered at Weightlifting Academy– Super Total.
The response has been AMAZING! I’m completely blown away by the amount of goodwill, support, and excitement about this new venture. Thank you!
As you might expect, we’ve been inundated with questions regarding all kinds of intricate details. And I thought any time a question comes in that I think other people might share, I’ll throw my answer into a blog post so that everyone can benefit. Woo 🙂
What Does “Certification” Mean To US?
The question I got here was from Clayton who will be attending the Super Total Certification in Portland in April. He was wondering what we meant by calling what WE are doing a “certification”.
That might seem like a simple question with a simple answer, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s a DEEPLY complex one that strikes to the heart of what we don’t like about the current status-quo, and what we’re doing to change it.
The 3 Types Of Certifications In The Fitness Industry
Certifications come in a number of varieties, and sometimes they overlap:
- Government-backed/Accredited certifications — Some branch of the government recognizes it
- Company-centered Certification — This is a legal agreement between YOU and the Company issuing the certification that allows you to use the companies name in your marketing (for instance, “I’m a crossfit-certified Oly Coach”)
- Educational Certification — The body that runs the program has a process by-which they certify that you did, in fact, complete the stated requirements satisfactorily. And they have a way of making that public knowledge so that anyone who questions you can look it up and see for themselves (examples would be Code Academy, Coursera, Udacity, etc)
There are more possibilities of course, but these are the most common.
Let’s take a deeper look at these 3
First — Accredited Certifications
A list of example certs that have some level of accreditation with the gov are USA Weightlifting and USA Track&Field (both good) and… ACE…
Note that quality is not — at all — a determining factor among these types of certifications. They can either be good or not good from a real education standpoint, and yet still both be lumped together as “accredited”.
Other factors are at play that are quite complicated. BUT, by jumping through whatever hoops are necessary to get your certification accredited, you get to say… you’re accredited. And that always helps in marketing. This is — by far — the biggest reasons many companies try to get their certs accredited: it helps with sales.
Second — Company-Centered Certifications
CrossFit functioned under this model for most of their existence, and still do with their Oly certs and other “specilization” certs. Getting a CrossFit Olympic lifting certification DOES NOT have anything to do with USA Weightlifting… at all. It’s an agreement between you and CrossFit that you’re now allowed to use their name (with limitations) in your marketing materials.
Third — Educational Certifications
Coursera is moving into this territory. But my favorite examples are in the computer-programmer education market. Code School and Team Tree House are not accredited with the government, they don’t bother with #2 types of certs (given that their industry is quite different than ours), but they DO have a way of certifying that you DID take their courses and PASSED them like you claim you did.
What’s really cool is that there are now THOUSANDS of people who have gone through these institutions — starting out knowing nothing — and come out the other end and gotten REAL paying programming jobs because of Code Academy and Team Tree House. (usually starting with Treehouse then moving through Code Academy.)
While it doesn’t substitute for an entire college degree, it is a wonderful option for people who need access to a real, practical, education that is all about kicking ass in a real paying job without the massive debt/cost that usually accompanies a traditional degree program.
Weightlifting Academy: The New School of Strength
I asked myself, “What would happen if a great liberal arts college (like Reed) decided to create an online strength-training school?”
That might sound kinda funny… but it was the inspiration behind everything we’re doing. I don’t give a damn what the Fitness Industry is doing. I am only interested in REAL education and helping new coaches become professionals.
As anyone who has been in this business — in business — as long as I have will tell you: the slips of paper on your wall mean nothing, literally. The only thing that matters is what you can DO.
Weightlifting Academy was created to teach you how to DO stuff. Period.
How The Fitness Biz Is Failing You
I am a lifelong athlete, but my “hardcore” education is in mathematics, not fitness. I had to learn to coach and run a coaching business all on my own. Let me tell you, that is NOT something I would wish on anyone else!
The current state of education for new professional coaches in America is hideous. It would be considered completely unacceptable in any other field. Yet most fitness pro’s don’t know anything different. They accept it because it’s the status quo.
I don’t do “status quo”
When I came at this problem I approached it from the perspective of someone who was trained to teach MATHEMATICS:
- How do we ensure new coaches actually KNOW what they are supposedly certified in?
- How do we SUPPORT those new coaches in learning this material?
- How do we educate new coaches in the hard-nosed realities of being a professional vs a hobby coach?
- How do we educate new entrepreneur-coaches in what it means to run a business that helps people AND doesn’t go bankrupt.
If someone had taught me these things, I could have avoided an amazing level of failure over the years that I had to overcome to get to where I am now.
I was all alone on my journey.
You don’t have to be.
Weightlifting Academy certifications are of BOTH type #2 and type #3:
- You will be legally allowed to call yourself a Weightlifting Academy certified coach (in this case with a specialization in barbell training –aka, super total)
- We will have a robust system of RECOGNITION of your hard work that you can showcase to the world, proving that you really did go through a very rigorous program to earn this certification.
We are NOT a government-backed, accredited, institution. And I have no plans to do that.
Instead of trying to be all-things to all-people, we are focusing on the things we know we can deliver better than anyone else.
Our program is designed for people who need skills, education, and professional-development support.
In other words… people just like I was.
Will I Ever Make Our Certifications “Accredited”?
- Accreditation only makes sense for a TINY fraction of the people who we work with
- It is a giant bureaucratic nightmare
- It steals from us our ability to run this program exactly as we know it should be run — without limit
If you are a coach working for a college or big-box gym, then you’ll probably need whatever certs they tell you to get. Some will be worth it, some are stupid… but you get them because your boss told you to.
If you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, however:
- The law doesn’t require you to be certified in anything at all!
- Your clients don’t give a shit. They want to know you can get results
- What the cert says is far less important than the skills it helped you develop
Entrepreneurs are like musicians: do you think it hurt BB King that he doesn’t have a degree (cert) in music?
What matters is that he’s not a hack. I define a hack as a person who has all the credentials, straight A’s, tons of letters behind their name, but can’t coach anyone to do anything. These people are everywhere. It’s not really their fault. They THOUGHT they were doing the right thing, and they worked hard. But the system is so amazingly crappy that the even the most talented are falling through the cracks.
Final Words (Clean Up)
There are literally thousands of people who work for the organizations I’m talking about who would likely get rather pissed at what I’m saying. But I’ve been silent on this issue for too long.
In the end, as much as I care about you, I care about your clients more. Most certification companies could care less if you actually know anything, have changed for the better, are TRULY a better coach now… they just want their money (and might even STILL sue your ass if you use their name contrary to their rules policy).
This is important stuff… and the lines get blurred a lot, so I’m going to keep talking about it.
In the end, I don’t want other people to go through the shit I did. My journey has had some great ups, but the downs would have ended the careers of anyone less crazy than me.
There’s a better way, and Weightlifting Academy is here to make it happen.
Now go lift something heavy,
PS. You can still join up for 20% off for the Super Total Cert. We also added a Subscription plan for anyone who’d rather take that option. Easy peasy 🙂