We’re going into the last stretch of summer, which tends to bring up memories (or the reality) of going back to school. Even if you finished with school years ago, you can always benefit from continuing to learn new skills and expand your knowledge to become a better fitness instructor and business owner.

We’ve done some research to determine what trainings and certifications might be worth pursuing this year to deepen your skill set and take your career to the next level. Whether you want to up your game as a personal trainer or you are trying to grow your business, consider some of these certifications and training courses to get an edge over your competition!

Fitness Nutrition Certification

What is it?
A Fitness Nutrition Certification means that you are certified to offer advice about choosing food and preparing nutritious meals, understanding nutrition labels, and guiding clients to develop a meal plan that will help them reach their specific goals, whether they are looking to lose weight or improve their athletic performance. Through this certification, you learn the science behind the energy we get from food, how digestion affects health and fitness levels, and nutritional requirements and special dietary needs.

What’s the benefit?
Now more than ever there is a focus on the quality of our diets and the importance of nutrition for overall health. By adding this skill set to your repertoire as a fitness instructor—whether you are a personal trainer or a studio owner—you can offer clients a better chance at truly improving their health for the better. Exercise and diet go hand-in-hand, so having a fitness nutrition certification is an asset.

How do I do it?
Becoming certified in Fitness Nutrition may depend on your original certification. The American Council on Exercise (ACE), International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), and National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) all offer Fitness Nutrition Certification as a specialty that you can add to your core Personal Training Certification.

See more: The Business Behind Nutritional Counseling

Mind-Body Fitness Certification

What is it?
No, we aren’t talking about the online class registration platform but actual mind-body fitness. According to the fitness professionals organization IDEA, mind-body fitness is defined by five key elements: “inner mental focus; concentration on muscular movements; synchronization of movements with breathing patterns; attention to form and alignment; and a belief in the ‘life energy,’ such as prana or chi, that is part of ancient Eastern disciplines.”

While this may not be the official definition, mind-body fitness certification is designed to teach trainers how to incorporate holistic wellness and stress reduction techniques into their fitness training. This can also be a start to learning about Pilates, yoga, qigong or Tai Chi if that is an avenue you might be interested in exploring.

What’s the benefit?
Being a well-rounded trainer with various offerings like a mind-body connection approach to physical fitness coaching will set you apart from the competition. Not only will you learn more about how the mind affects the body, how to focus your intentions, and how to improve alignment during movement for your own health and wellness, but you will be able to transmit those teachings to your clients.

While people may come to you as a personal trainer or studio owner with the hopes of getting physically fit to look better, they will only stick around if you can instill in them the intrinsic value of exercise for mental and emotional wellness. As they associate working out at your studio with positive feelings and a sense of well-being, they are bound to return!

How do I do it?
There are training courses on Mind-Body Fitness you can sign up for online like the Mind-Body Fitness Specialist certification from ACE. The Personal Training Academy Global (PTAG) also offers an Exercise & Stress Management course that teaches a holistic approach to fitness training to address clients’ mental and emotional well-being as you train them physically. You could also take the route of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher through a studio registered with the Yoga alliance, which is a 200-hour training program, or you could get qigong or Tai Chi certification.

See more: Making the Mind-Body Connection

Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Certification

What is it?
This certification will teach you the skills and knowledge necessary to safely train women who are pregnant and new moms whose bodies and workout routines require extra care. It is vital for expecting mothers and new mothers to stay fit and healthy, which is why it is the responsibility of fitness instructors to learn how to adapt exercises for women in all stages of pregnancy, understand the effects of aerobic exercise on mom and baby, and know about metabolic and musculoskeletal changes in prenatal and postpartum bodies.

What’s the benefit?
Having advanced knowledge about safe exercises and nutritional requirements for expecting moms and new moms is a niche skillset that is beneficial for you professionally because it is not as common even though there is certainly demand for it! Additionally, it is rewarding to help women who may be uncertain about how or if they can work out during and after pregnancy because exercise done properly can facilitate labor, reduce complications, and improve self-esteem and mental health for new moms. It’s important for women to be healthy and fit throughout their pregnancy, and you can be the person who guides your clients to be their best selves during such a critical stage in their lives.

How do I do it?
There are various Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness certification programs, such as the Pre and Post Natal Fitness Specialist Certification offered by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates or the Fit For Birth course to become a Prenatal Fitness Specialist. You should research certification programs and choose the one that is best for you personally. Then, you just have to study and prep for the certification exam!

See more: Prepare for Prenatal Classes

Google Analytics Certification

What is it?
If you have a website, you should have Google Analytics, which tracks the behavior and demographics of visitors to your website. This free platform offered by Google allows website managers to determine how much time visitors spend on their site, what pages they visit the most frequently, and their behavior on the website. But that is only minimal outline of what it does!

Google Analytics is robust, but it isn’t the most intuitive platform. That is why this fall it may be time to prepare for and take the Google Analytics IQ exam to be Google Analytics certified. The exam is 90-minutes and can be taken at no cost. You can do all of your studying through the Analytics Academy that offers free courses online.

What’s the benefit?
Knowing how to properly understand the data can make it a powerful online tool to improve your website, gain insight into what is working for consumers, and increase the number of visitors to the page who are becoming clients. As a qualified user of Google Analytics, you will be able to fully harness the potency of the tool to better serve your clients online and to become a more savvy and knowledgeable website manager. You could hire someone to do it for you, but through the Google Analytics certification, you can just learn it yourself and do it for free.

How do I do it?
Google makes it pretty simple to become certified! You can take online courses and do tutorials, webinars, and read about Google Analytics features through the Analytics Academy. You can start with Google Analytics for Beginners and work your way up to Advanced Google Analytics to prepare for the exam. When you are ready, you can take the Google Analytics IQ exam through google.com/partners to take the test at no cost. You will have to register so that you can receive your results.

See more: Introduction to Google Analytics

SEO Marketing Training

What is it?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to any business with an online presence that it hopes to grow and leverage to gain more brand recognition and clients. SEO marketing is when you optimize your website, web and advertising content, and do link-building to rank higher in search results. That means, if a person searches in Google or Bing, “best gym in Boston for expecting moms,” and you are that gym in Boston, you want to be the top result for those search terms. To do that, you need to learn the ins-and-outs of how SEO works with some training.

What’s the benefit?
Online searches are the most common way that consumers find services and products today, so knowing how to maximize your Internet presence is no longer an option but a necessity. It is not enough to simply have a website anymore. By taking the time to learn about SEO, you will be able to better navigate the world of online marketing and (especially if you are tracking web traffic in Google Analytics) will allow you to implement an actual strategy to make your website perform and grow your business.

How do I do it?
There are hundreds of online resources and guides to SEO that you can study in addition to actual trainings and digital marketing courses. A great resource for online marketing and SEO intro courses is through Moz, a website dedicated to digital marketing tools and insights that was one of the first on the scene to demystify SEO strategies back in 2004. You might also check out the SEO trainings offered through Lynda.com, a popular online learning platform.

See more: A Studio Owner’s Introduction to SEO

Social Media Marketing Courses

What is it?
Being active on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest is an asset for those in the fitness industry today because the nature of the service you provide is largely visual—you are marketing a look and a lifestyle offered by your brand! Social media marketing can be tricky because it appears to be straightforward and easy to hack, but the reality is, trying to effectively utilize social media requires skills and knowledge about how your target audience interacts with social media and what types of posts and messaging engages them.

What’s the benefit?

Social media marketing is becoming increasingly important for businesses to promote their brand and convert and retain clients. While you might have accounts on various social media platforms for your business, are you leveraging them as a strategic marketing tool? Social media marketing can be a low-cost marketing tool that complements your online marketing efforts by promoting products, sharing personal stories, and increasing your SEO with backlinks and brand recognition.

How do I do it?
There are thousands of articles expounding the do’s and don’ts of social media marketing, but there are also many online courses that are free to use and give a more in-depth training on how to use social media marketing effectively. One resource is QuickSprout, a content and business marketing blog by digital marketing guru Neil Patel with an entire series of tutorials about social media like the lesson: How to Leverage Social Media for New Leads and Customers. You could also try an online social media marketing course like the Social Media Marketing course by Boston University offered through edX, a site that aggregates Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by top universities in the U.S.

See more: Webinar: Social Media Strategy