How Long Does It Take To Become a Personal Trainer?

How to Become a Personal Trainer

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This is understandably one of the most frequently asked questions by those considering to get into the fitness industry and it’s important to know the different timescales and what those timescales entail. This article will cover those areas as well as some of the pros and cons of each type of delivery model from your chosen training provider or educational institute. First, we need to understand the different ways of obtaining your qualifications which are online course, hybrid courses, full time classroom (face to face) and apprenticeships. So, how long does it take to become a personal trainer? Let’s take a look.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Personal Trainer?

The quickest you can do a course and gain a qualification is just a couple of weeks. Whether this is a good idea or not is causing a divide in the fitness industry because with this approach, a company’s interest is purely about volume of passable students and most of the time, the students don’t come out of the course with enough knowledge, confidence or guidance to set them up for their career. There are some training providers that may even give you your qualification within a few days but this is massively frowned upon in the industry and people who take this approach to their learning will drastically fail or underperform when it comes to their earnings.

The reasons for this are that these courses set the bar low and teach you the bare minimum. They will also pass you for the sake of the business whilst compromising quality and integrity, they will then say it’s your fault if you don’t succeed afterwards but this is akin to someone passing a driving test on an empty road when they can’t really drive. This is usually not safe or effective and essentially, you will feel more out of your depth when you start in the industry because you will often feel like a lost puppy trying to find its way.

Anyone who is worth their salt in the fitness industry will tell you to avoid this approach or if you are the student, you’ll avoid this approach too. There is also the business side of things which is a huge part of the job and these are now supposed to be built into the student journey and this takes a lot of getting your head round as it’s a new skill set for a lot of people and this cannot be done in a few days. The absolute minimum a good personal training qualification should take to complete is three months.

This approach usually applies to face to face courses but then we have purely online courses. These are advantageous for someone who wants to study in their own time and these and don’t like the distraction that a rowdy classroom may bring. To their credit will usually take a bit longer due to the student having to absorb a lot of information however they lack the necessary face to face time that anyone needs to pass a course with competence. Imagine working with clients one to one and not having any guidance opportunity to practice before you do it. 

It sounds bizarre because it is bizarre. This approach will not set you up for success unless you already have a strong background in fitness from a degree or working in the industry in another role and you have the people skills to match. Assessments are usually recorded and sent in for feedback and this approach just lacks any personal touch to your learning. This may be useful if you don’t like interacting with people but if that’s the case then arguably, you shouldn’t get into fitness because fitness is mostly about people.

Full Time Personal Trainer Courses

Full time courses are a good option for those who want more of a classroom environment and like to learn with other people. These courses are more about the experience and having the opportunity to share the journey whilst being able to ask questions. This can work really well for some people however the major drawbacks are that these are more expensive, tutor quality can vary from very poor to excellent and you often will have to take time off work and spend time and money travelling to venues every day and venues are usually few and far between. The sheer overload of information can also be overwhelming for some people, especially if fitness is new to them and this can cause excessive stress that can hamper the experience. In essence, full time courses could either be good, neutral or bad for a person – it just depends on preference and context.

Part Time Courses and Apprenticeships

Part time courses are a softer touch on a full-time course as these are often run at weekends to allow you to work in the week and not have to take time off. There is one MASSIVE downside to this approach though and that is trying to find the time to study around your work commitments will mean that you have to study in the evenings around your classroom time and for a lot of people this is just not efficient or possible when you are tired, stressed and time poor. This often puts a massive mental and emotional strain on a student and a lot of students find themselves either dropping out or having to file for extensions to their courses, which will often come with extension fees.

Apprenticeships are an alternative to the classroom approach, and they can work quite well for those that like to learn as they work in a secondary role in the industry. This could be a duty manager, receptionist or sales consultant and the tutor can come to them at set stages throughout the year. The downside of this is that these courses are very time consuming and work at a slow pace – they are often a year when courses don’t necessarily need to take that long. This will also frustrate and hold back faster learners. The good thing with apprenticeships is that you can take your time but the support between visits is questionable and you will often be left to your own devices between sessions. This can work if you are good at grasping the concepts in the lessons at the first time of asking but it can hinder you if you need more support.

An Alternative Approach to becoming a Personal Trainer

There is another way. At Redefining Fitness, we have found a happy compromise between all of the above approaches. Our approach will not suit everyone, but it may appeal to a lot of you reading this. Our approach involves 80% of the content being online so you can study at your own pace BUT we allocate you a tutor to set deadlines and work for you to complete the coursework components of the course. 20% of the course is also spent in the gym with your tutor (local to you) and often in your own gym. This makes your life more convenient as you can spend four hour blocks with your tutor which means you don’t have to travel which saves you time and money plus you also get to work a more flexible schedule around your current commitments.

You will also receive more personalised tutoring as our sessions are either one to one or small group and this personalised time allows you to tweak the course to your own benefit without the distraction of being in a room with twenty other people. Usually it will take between three to six months to complete the Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training as well as its pre-requisite the Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing. We find that this model is a happy medium for many aspiring fitness professionals especially those who are now working from home on a full or part time basis.

Quick Guide to Time Frame and Cost

How Long Does It Take To Become a Personal Trainer - Conclusion

To sum up, what matters the most is the approach that suits you and your aspirations. If you want the piece of paper and just to be semi competent for your own training then a few days qualification may be apt for a while but if you want to be the best and excel in your career then you need a more in depth course and although many training providers give you the same qualification – the quality of tutors and content is not equal even though most providers charge a similar amount. This is where value for money comes in and the last thing you want with a course is buyer’s remorse. This is where you need to look at the topics being taught in a course as well as doing background research on the tutors because if you want to excel, you’re better off learning from tutors who have a strong track record as a personal trainer or fitness professional themselves as well as being a strong tutor.

At Redefining Fitness, we are aware of this conundrum and our policy is that all of our tutors must have a stand out track record in fitness, they have to be qualified to degree level or the vocational equivalent and most of the team have international experience or experience in multiple roles in the industry. If you want to ask lots of questions, you need to ask people who know the answers! Our team also goes through extensive internal training to get them to the standard they need to be at, and we are continually investing in them to improve the standard of delivery across the board. Our student first approach to teaching is what we’re the best at in the industry and we’re also honest and transparent so if we don’t think we can help you, we won’t try and sell you our courses and we’ll guide you to some more suitable options. Part of success in fitness is integrity and if we’re going to take you on, we’re going to give you the tools and support you need to succeed.

fitness professional explaining How Long Does It Take To Become A Personal Trainer

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.

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