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Personal Trainer History

author image Michael Gauthier
Michael Gauthier started writing professionally for LIVESTRONG.COM in 2011. As an owner/operator of two Parisi Speed Schools, he trains athletes of all ages to increase speed, strength, endurance and agility. Gauthier is a certified personal trainer with the Cooper Institute and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from Lamar University.
Personal Trainer History
Personal trainers have a long history. Photo Credit Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

Serious fitness training dates back to the ancient Greeks who trained and held athletic events such as the Olympic Games, which started in 776 B.C. Martial arts is also a form of training which dates back thousands of years. Personal training as a job did not come until much later. Trainers from long ago were usually religious or military leaders. Today we have personal trainers training clients in gyms, parks, homes and even on television shows.

For Good of Man

While yoga has been practiced for over 5,000 years, Cong Fu (Kung Fu) developed in China between 2500 and 250 B.C., due to Confucius and his encouragement of physical fitness. The Chinese traced certain diseases to lack of fitness and said exercise could prevent them. Cong Fu aimed to keep the body healthy and free from sickness and disease.

For Expansion of Empire

In the Near East political leaders recognized the importance of fitness. Persia, for example, required citizens to train physically and even prescribed fitness programs, somewhere between 400 and 2500 B.C. This training regimen was not for the health and well being of the Persians but rather to ensure strong and fit soldiers for the empire.

In the ancient Greek civilizations the regard for fitness was possibly the highest of all time. Practitioners such as Hippocrates stressed the importance of health through fitness. The people of Athens strove for physical perfection of the body and the Spartan government required all males to begin a exercise program at the age of 6 and maintain it until adulthood.

German Gymnastics

From 1700 to 1850, Germany and Sweden made large advancements in training people. Johann Guts Muths and Friedrich Jahn are credited as the "Grandfather of German Gymnastics" and the "Father of German Gymnastics" respectively. Muths created equipment and routines for gymnasts to perform. Napoleon conquered much of Europe during Jahn's early life and he believed future invasions could be prevented if the German peoples level of fitness was further advanced.

First Fitness Icon

Fitness and personal training made monumental advancements in the 1900s. Jack LaLanne, the Father of Modern Fitness motivated hundreds of thousands of Americans to get up and exercise. Through his television show as a fitness instructor and at his Bally gyms he inspired people to use exercise and lifestyle choices as preventative medicine.

Modern Fitness Movement

Dr. Ken H. Cooper, the father of the modern fitness movement shifted peoples thinking from disease treatment to disease prevention through the use of exercise. In 1968 he introduce the word "aerobics" to the world and began a fitness movement that would up the number of joggers in America from 100,000 to more than 30 million. He showed that regular exercise and proper dietary choices could prevent several diseases.

Fitness as a Career

In the 1980s personal training became a popular career choice. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) did not recognize the first nationally accredited personal training certificate until 1996.Personal training has a long history but only recently has become a viable career path.

At time of publication there are currently more than a dozen personal certifications that the National Commission For Certifying Agencies accredits. They include the Academy of Applied Personal Training Education, American College of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, The Cooper Institute, International Fitness Professionals Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Sports Medicine, National Council for Certified Personal Trainers, National Council on Strength and Fitness, National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association, National Exercise Trainers Association, National Federation of Professional Trainers, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and Training and Wellness Certification Commission.

The value of fitness and having a fitness leader to drive you toward your goals is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. However, its modern popularity is a part of society that you can see throughout history.

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