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CPR Training for Personal Trainers—What You Need to Know

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, CPR Training for Personal Trainers—What You Need to Know

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Everyone in the fitness industry heard about celebrity fitness trainer Bob Harper’s gym heart attack in 2017. The incident highlighted a few important factors about heart disease and workouts: 

  • It can happen to anyone.
  • Working out elevates the short-term risk of cardiac arrest. 
  • Gyms with trained individuals and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) save lives. 

Harper survived, thanks to the quick actions of bystanders and the gym’s AED. What if that happened to your client? Would you know what to do? Lifesaving CPR training is an absolute must for personal trainers. 

What is CPR? 

CPR is cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a procedure used in life-threatening emergencies when the heart has stopped beating. According to the American Heart Association, performing CPR immediately can increase a person’s chances of surviving cardiac arrest by two or three times. 

CPR is so important in saving lives because it keeps blood flowing until a medical professional can intervene and resuscitate the victim. 

There are two main types of CPR: 

  • Conventional CPR. Medical professionals and those trained and certified in CPR use the conventional type. They provide a specific ratio of chest compressions to mouth-to-mouth breathing.
  • Hands-Only CPR. Untrained bystanders can help a victim by providing compressions only until someone with more training or a medical professional arrives. 

What is AED? 

Most CPR training now includes instruction in the use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED. It is a small, portable medical device used to help someone in cardiac arrest. It reads the heart’s rhythm, and if needed, applies an electrical shock to re-establish the right rhythm. 

The majority of cases of sudden cardiac arrest result from ventricular fibrillation, an abnormal and fast heart rhythm. An AED can stop that abnormal rhythm and restore it to normal. This can be life-saving. Restoring the rhythm within minutes is essential to increasing the chances a person will survive cardiac arrest. 

Why is CPR Training for Personal Trainers Important?

The most important reason of all is that medical emergencies do occur during personal training sessions. While an emergency can happen anywhere at any time, the risk increases when people are engaging in strenuous activities, like a workout. 

Strenuous physical exertion increases the risk of cardiac arrest for a short period of time. This is no reason to avoid workouts, but it is reason to be trained in basic lifesaving skills. 

Heart disease is a silent killer of too many Americans. Learn more here about preventative measures you and your clients can take. 

The Benefits of CPR Certification

Being able to help a client in an emergency is important but just one reason all trainers should be certified. There are many other benefits of earning your certification: 

  • Whether you work with the fittest bodybuilders or newbies to fitness, anyone could experience sudden cardiac arrest, so you should be prepared. 
  • Many professional organizations that certify personal trainers require that you hold this certification. 
  • Many employers, like gyms, require that their trainers be trained in CPR and the use of AEDs. 
  • If you freelance as a trainer, having this certification will make clients feel more confident in hiring you. 
  • You’ll feel more empowered as a trainer knowing you can step in and help if someone has an emergency. 

CPR Training for Personal Trainers is Not Strictly Required

States do not license personal trainers, which means that by law there are no actual requirements. Technically, anyone can use the term personal trainer and take on clients. Of course, you know the benefits of being educated and getting your personal training certification. This extends to CPR training, even if it is not strictly required by law. 

CPR/AED is just one example of a continuing education course that can help you do your job better. Here are some other continuing education ideas. 

What Will I Learn in CPR Training? 

CPR training typically includes just one course that takes an hour or two to complete. In this one course, you’ll learn several important lifesaving skills: 

  • Warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest
  • The appropriate steps of action in the chain of survival
  • How to assess someone who is not responsive
  • The recovery position for someone who is breathing but not responsive 
  • The elements of high-performance CPR
  • How to perform hands-only CPR
  • How to perform conventional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing
  • How to perform CPR with another rescuer
  • How to use an AED
  • The differences in performing CPR on an adult, a child, and an infant
  • Personal safety precautions

Many classes combine CPR/AED with basic first aid skills. It’s worth considering the inclusion of first aid in your course. While cardiac arrest is life and death, your clients may suffer other injuries. It’s smart to be prepared to assist until emergency responders arrive.

How Do I Get CPR Certification? 

You can find CPR, AED, and first aid courses in many places, either in person or online. Before signing up for a course, check with your employer or certifying agency to be sure your choice will be accepted. If you are doing this only for your own personal development, any valid course will suffice. 

Cardiac arrest in the gym or in a training session is not common, but it happens. Be prepared for the worst. It can mean the difference between life and death for a client. Certification in CPR and AED is an essential tool for every serious personal trainer. 

ISSA’s CPR/AED Certification Program is an online, self-paced course with interactive training elements. It takes less than an hour to complete and will equip you with important lifesaving skills every trainer needs. 


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