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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Become a Certified Personal Trainer Without Even Trying

Posted By on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 7:44 AM

This could be you...ish. - IMAGE VIA
You there, kicking it at the desk job. Aren't personal trainers sexy? With the help of St. Louis-based American Sports and Fitness Association, you too can become a certified personal trainer! And by proxy, you'd become -- that's right -- sexy.

The ASFA offers online certification tests in kettlebells, personal training, pilates, kickboxing -- name any class on the schedule at one of those fancy, trendy ladies' gyms, and ASFA can certify you to teach it, on the cheap. 

But the Better Business Bureau sent out an alert about the ASFA's certification practices, warning that a super-simple online test and a $99 payment is all that's behind the credibility the framed certificates offer. 

The BBB put their best men on sniffing out the ASFA's fraud, and had 11-year-old Julianna, a Webster Groves sixth grader, take a test to become a certified kettlebell instructor. Julianna, of course, can't lift a kettlebell, let alone teach others how to use it for training. 

Within 10 minutes, however, Julianna had passed the 75-question certification test on her second try, with a score of 89 percent, and was asked if she'd like to be taken to her virtual shopping cart to purchase her certification.

The most fun part about taking the test, Julianna says, was that the site automatically gave her the correct answers to the questions she had missed the first time around. 

"I wish they would do that in school," she says. 

In a kind of personal version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Daily RFT took the kettlebell certification test ourselves. Well, we can proudly say we beat Julianna's score: 94 percent on the first try, with no prior knowledge of kettlebells, other than their name, general appearance, and that they are incredibly intimidating. 

ASFA's website collects no personal information or payment before the certification test. Some of the questions are repeated in the 75-question form, and several have laughably obvious questions, such as when the user is asked whether kettlebells are a type of free weights, true or false, or whether kettlebells resemble a cannon ball with a handle, true or false. Others seem to be the product of some would-be pro-kettlebell PR campaign: Kettlebell training requires a costly monetary investment by the trainee, true or false? False! Anyone can be a super-strong awesome kettlebell champion! 

The BBB didn't stop with little Julianna. One BBB investigator took a martial arts certification test without even reading the questions, just marking answers at random. On his third try, he changed his answers to reflect the ones the test pointed out to him, and was invited to purchase a certification, having achieved a passing score of 72 percent. 

The BBB contacted Kurtis Scott Lippman, the owner of ASFA. 

"In a field that is not accredited by any legal board, we do not claim state or national accreditation status," Lippman said in an email. "However, we do provide a useful tool for employers and employees alike."

On both the website and in his email, Lippman noted that only those certificates issued for persons 18 or older should be considered valid.

So, if you're looking to make a quick buck, maybe spruce up your resume a little bit, ASFA's the place to go! You could be a certified childhood obesity expert or master personal trainer in minutes!

If you're looking for a trainer or expert though, uh, be careful, ok? Little Julianna's arms are super unsteady, so you may want to take a pass on those kettlebells. 

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