Become a certified personal trainer with these courses

Personal trainer Kayla Itsines attends day 2 of POPSUGAR Play/Ground on June 10, 2018 in New York City.

By Shekinah Kannan 

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The pandemic has altered the way people keep fit.

A study in the UK found that many people have been less physically active since the pandemic unfolded. Lockdowns have meant people are unable to go to the gym or exercise outdoors as much as they’d like to, furthering bolstering the appeal of at-home workouts, more so those guided by online fitness trainers. 


A Comscore study has found that there has been a 147% increase in fitness videos on cable, streaming apps, and subscription platforms.

Kayla Itsines, Emily Skye, and Heather Robertson represent just a handful of personal trainers and fitness influencers who have made a name for themselves by encouraging people to get fit.

For those eager to follow in their footsteps, here’s what you should know.

What do personal trainers do?

Apart from house calls or working at a gym, personal trainers may also conduct online sessions via Zoom or record themselves and upload these workout videos on social media. Browse YouTube and you will find that some are making lucrative careers out of it. 

Personal trainers help their clients reach their fitness goals. This entails assessing their strengths and weaknesses, monitoring their progress, and offering nutritional advice and positive reinforcement when needed. 

Ultimately, you’ll be able to serve as far more than an instructor – you’ll be an advisor and a motivator to those looking to change their lives.

Personal trainers can earn a median annual wage of over 40,500 US dollars, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Depending on the number of clients you take on and how proactive you are to build your brand and client base – this number could skyrocket. 

Further bolstering its appeal as a career choice is the opportunities in the field. The employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029 – much faster than the average for all occupations. 

Entry is also quick. High school leavers with the proper certifications can dive into the field.

Apart from completing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) certification programme, here are three certification bodies that will help you become a personal trainer. 

The National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF)

The NCSF is a globally recognised organisation for exercise professionals. Its certification programmes are accredited in the US (NCCA) and Europe (EA), and they offer certification at over 8,000 exam centres in 160 countries worldwide. 

Aspiring personal trainers can specialise in personal training, strength and conditioning, or fitness nutrition. The Personal Trainer certification ensures participants have the industry recognition needed to succeed.

To get there, learners will have to choose between a hands-on or self-study programme, and pass the exam online or at a testing centre.

Upon completion, you could opt to get straight to work or take on an advanced certification for a more dynamic CV. The costs for this NCCA-accredited programme can range from US$349 to US$449.

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

The ISSA is a great option for those who require distance education. Whether you’re looking to kick-start a full-time career in fitness or advance an existing one, its at-home, online Personal Training Certification Programme teaches aspirants everything they need to know for a successful career.

The programme is built around the philosophical and scientific aspects of fitness — anatomy, health assessment, and movement principles — with an eye toward applying those skills in a practical, day-to-day environment. The curriculum also includes lessons in business management and marketing. The coursework is self-paced, and coaches are available whenever necessary. 

This certification will take 12-months to complete, with a reasonable price of just US$69 a month.


The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

The NASM is a highly regarded fitness organisation in the US. It’s personal training certification courses teaches the NASM Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model, emphasising five fitness pillars: stabilisation endurance, strength endurance, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and power. 

There are several options available, from self-study, premium self-study, guided study, to an all-inclusive version – however, the guided study option is the most popular as it was designed for learners who need extra support and access to a mentor. 

Accredited by the NCCA, NASM certifications are priced between US$46 per month to US$135 per month for 11-months – depending on which study option you choose.