Should You Insist on a Certified Instructor for Mind-Body Fitness Instruction?

If you have any familiarity with traditional exercise, you may recall seeing claims at clubs, by teachers and trainers, or in advertisements stating the importance of “certified” personal trainers, or “certified” water instructors, or “certified” step instructors. But with these mind-body methods, no such advanced system of certifying instructors exists . . . yet.

Some methods, such as Yoga, are beginning to grapple with the needs of a certification program as demand for classes increases. But this won’t likely be in place for a number of years. It took traditional exercise, such as aerobics, a decade or more to get to that place, and that industry is still upgrading and modifying the needs of educational demands.

In conflict with this attempt is the fact that some mind-body methods stem from ancient forms that require apprenticeships and years of study. As such, it’s difficult to certify an instructor, and it’s even more difficult to force them to do continuing education to keep their certificate, as is necessary in the Western way.

What you may find are certificates, which claim that an instructor has taken a certain workshop or class from some guru. For that workshop attendance, instructors receive a certificate saying they took blah-blah course from so-and-so. That’s all. They may have listened and learned. They may not have. But usually if someone takes the time and money to attend a workshop, they pay attention.

Even if an instructor you find claims to be “certified” or “certificated,” you may find a better one who is not. So it pays to look around and feel what an instructor has to offer, and to listen to what that instructor not only says, but doesn’t say.

Bottom line: If you like a teacher, go for it.

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