The short answer – the personal trainer course that sets you up for success by being right for your circumstances. In this article, I will go into the different types of personal trainer courses in the industry and give you the ins and outs of each one.
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These are often a year or more long and require you to work unpaid or for an apprentice wage whilst you study. This option is good for individuals who want to take their time and spread out their learning around their work. This can be beneficial for learning as information is not being crammed in, in a short space of time then forgotten later. There is growing evidence that spaced out learning works well for retention and proper understanding of content.
This won’t work for somebody who wants to get things done and/or has a strong background in health and fitness prior to coming into the industry as this individual (maybe you) would like to get things done quicker. It also won’t work for somebody who is looking for an immediate to mid-term career change as it’s just too long. The other potential downside is that if you leave the employer who’s given you the qualification within a certain timeframe, you’ll likely be forced to pay this back.
There’s also the risk of falling off track between tutor/assessor visits and not getting the work done because the accountability is only partly there. Apprenticeships on the whole are a decent option for some people but for many, there are just better options.
Some apprenticeships may however come in the form of working in a separate role whilst gaining the qualification e.g. receptionist or duty manager and this may suit someone who wants to work indirectly in the industry whilst gaining their qualifications.
Some places will allow you to do purely online courses. This will depend on the awarding organisation as many won’t allow the course to be fully online due to the need for practical guidance throughout the course. That being said, the option is still there in places.
This type of course would be perfect for someone who wanted to study around their current job or commitments and the beauty of online learning is that you can log in and do it at any time so you don’t have to be anywhere at a fixed time and date. This might work well for people who have family commitments or those who work long or ever changing hours so they don’t have to take time off.
The drawback with online courses is the lack of face to face gym time with a tutor. This is vital for any personal trainer to check technique at a minimum but also work on disposition, delivery style, spotting exercises and improving their overall performance. Face to face feedback and guidance is a huge component of a personal trainer’s development and this just can’t be done the same online.
A lot of online courses also tend to be read/write heavy. Read/write is one of the four learning styles, along with Visual, Audial and Kinaesthetic and this may work for avid and voracious readers but for those who aren’t, this can be a challenge. The same applies for those who work in a desk based job already as the last thing most of us would want to do is spend more time on a computer screen after a long day working on one!
Some courses, have evolved to cater for visual and audial learners in recent times. This is in the form of things like podcasts, PowerPoint recordings and interactive games which add an extra layer of engagement to the content. Kinaesthetic cues can be built into these modems but this is still not the same as face to face time and getting hands on. It’s just like you can’t learn to drive a car, just by reading the manual!
Online courses are a personal favourite of mine as read/write is my dominant learning style but if yours isn’t then I would look at alternative options.
Full Time Intensives
A lot of companies will offer the option for full time intensive course which is over a number of days or weeks and often run Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. These are good in the sense that you can learn a lot in a short space of time, you get to meet other people who have similar aspirations and you can really get stuck in.
The drawbacks are that you are forced to learn too much in such a short space and often you forget important stuff as a result. You can also feel like you are being rushed through your learning without proper time to digest the content so arguably you may not have learned it when you come out as it’s not been given the time and respect for you to process and retain the information effectively.
Full time intensives also require you to take enough time away from your other commitments, require you to commute to the venue daily (or get a hotel) which means you are spending time and money, whilst perhaps even losing money if you have to take the time off work. These factors all feed into your stress levels around the study which can hamper your experience.
Full time intensives have their place but they are not the only way.
Part Time Courses
These may be more suitable for some people who will struggle with the above. They are often on weekends and run for a longer period to match the time of the full time intensive. This can work quite well for spreading the lessons out just enough to learn and digest well whilst not being too far apart to become ineffective. The drawback is that you have to give up a lot of weekends consecutively and for some people this is not feasible or ideal especially after a long work week.
The difficulty with these courses is also often getting homework or coursework done between visits which can be next to impossible for those in full time work and/or those with family commitments. This leads to a lot of students on part time courses having to extend their courses after the expiry date because they simply cannot get the required amount of work done to a passable standard.
Part time courses are definitely useful as you still get the group interaction and have plenty of opportunity to ask tutors questions and open up discussions but if you’re time poor, a hybrid or online option may be better for you.
Blended / Hybrid Courses
Personally, this is my favourite model as I find both the tutor and the learners get the best bang for their buck from the experience.
Blended learning refers to doing some of the work online and having this topped up with time in the classroom and/or gym. This is often a happy compromise for those who want the face to face attention without having to give up too much time away from commitments. It also allows learners to be more flexible with the structure of their learning and gives them the best of both worlds. From a learning consolidation point of view, learners also often tend to retain more information over time (providing that the course is well structured) and they can tailor their needs more because they have time to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
This is also the model that Redefining Fitness uses for delivering our courses as our students are able to study conveniently around their other commitments saving time, money and energy travelling to venues and because we work locally to them, this also adds to their learning experience.
This style of delivery also takes some off the pressure from learners and tutors as the nature of the course isn’t as intense as a part time or full time course. This makes this option a valuable one for those who may not have a lot of time to give up in one go to study. We also deliver this either one to one or in small groups so our learners get extra attention compared to being in a room full of twenty people.
It allows learners to consolidate their theory knowledge upfront so that they understand it well enough to feed into their practical delivery which is beneficial in nature compared to having to learn everything quickly in one go.
Find out more about our personal trainer course options.
Choosing the Best Personal Trainer Course - Conclusion
To summarise, there is no right or wrong when it comes to delivery model as what works best for one person wouldn’t suit another. The key is to use the information above to make the best decision for yourself and your set of circumstances. Something to bear in mind in that delivery models will cause variation in price with online courses being the cheapest and full time intensives being the most expensive. Find out more about the cost of a personal trainer course.
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My names Christian Roach.
I’m the Education Director at Redefining Fitness. We deliver internationally accredited fitness qualifications for aspiring personal trainers across the UK. Our internationally experienced team of tutors help students to go from enrolment to graduation to successful business in as little as six to twelve months.
We’re known for delivering exceptionally high service and for producing industry ready fitness professionals, leaving our students feeling inspired to be the best version of themselves.