Formal education level and self-experienced competence level of Norwegian personal trainers

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Stig-Ivan Nygård, Nesna University College
Egil Galaaen Gjølme, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Stig Leirdal, Nesna University College


nygard-gjolme-leirdalStudies indicate that the fitness industry employs a substantial amount of personal trainers (PTs) without adequate formal qualifications (Anderson, Elliot & Woods, 2010; Holcombe, 2003; Hilgenkamp, ​​1998; Gavin, 1996). This trend has also been shown in several other countries (Gavin, 1996). Malek et al (2002) argue that a PT at the minimum should have bachelor degree in the field of Training and be in possession of a recognized PT certification.

The present study focuses on the PT education, and the formal and informal competence among active PT in Norway. The specific competence of active PTs is measured in relation to self-perceived competence and is compared with recently graduated PT students. Results are based on a survey among active PTs in the fitness group SATS ELIXIA (N = 126), as well as students who have completed a basic PT education, amounting to 30 credits (N = 55).

Our findings show that a large proportion of the PTs meet formal qualifications, but that education is not necessarily discipline-specific, targeting the PT profession. However, the PTs are considering their own expertise as good. In addition, significant differences in self-perceived competence between genders were registered, among both the active PT and among the students.

The survey indicates that competence requirement for Norwegian PTs in the fitness industry should be increased and made more discipline-specific towards the PT profession, according to the recommended minimum requirements (bachelor degree).


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STIG-IVAN NYGÅRD (b. 1971) has a cand. polit. degree in sport science from NTNU. He is employed as Assistant Professor in sports at Nesna University College (NUC), and has since 1998 taught within Sports and Teachers Training in the subjects of dance, gymnastics and martial arts. Nygård has also been head of NUC’s study abroad programs in Sports and Personal Trainer (Bali and Sydney).

EGIL GALAAEN GJØLME (b. 1967) has a cand. polit. degree in sport psychology from NTNU. He is employed as Assistant Professor in the Program for Teacher Education at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management at NTNU. Egil has 20 years teaching and training experience. Research and teaching interests are outdoor education, didactics and water activities.

STIG LEIRDAL (b. 1976) has a cand. polit. degree in sport science and PhD in health science from NTNU, and is currently working as an Associate Professor at the Department for sport at Nesna University College. Research and teaching interests are physiology, anatomy and biomechanics. Stig has particular expertise in testing and analysis in sports and health. He has worked nine years at NTNU (2002-2011) and is a consultant for Olympiatoppen since 2002.

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