Are Online Personal Training Programs Viewed Differently than On-Campus Programs?

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Every year, people around the world spend over $80 billion on fitness: And personal trainers are right in the center of this rapidly-growing industry. As a personal trainer, you’ll learn to create customized exercise plans for your clients. You’ll also develop strong coaching techniques that will motivate people to lose weight and get in shape.

Here are some of the places you’ll be able to find work as a personal trainer:

  • Gyms
  • Fitness studios
  • Health clubs
  • Online (through Personal Training apps)
  • Resorts
  • Spas

Although a college degree or certification isn’t required for all personal trainer jobs, your education will open up new career opportunities. As a student, you’ll work with experts in the field as you learn to tailor the perfect fitness plans for your future clients. Many schools also offer the opportunity to take on a fitness internship before your first job as a personal trainer, which will be sure to impress employers.

Should I earn my personal training degree online?

With an online degree, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of majors from across the country. Many students working towards a career in personal training choose to major in other fitness-related fields, then earn a certificate in personal training. This will broaden your future career opportunities and qualify you for a wider pool of jobs.

RELATED: How to Become a Personal Trainer: What Degree Should I Get?

Students interested in a career as a personal trainer should also consider majoring in:

Before you settle on a program, however, it’s important to understand the differences in classroom learning vs. online learning. Read on to learn if pursuing a career as a physical trainer online is right for you.

What are the advantages of an online personal training degree?

Earning an online degree can be a rewarding experience, especially if traditional classroom learning isn’t an option for you. Read on to learn how you could improve your future with an online personal training degree.

Here are some advantages to earning your personal training degree online:

    • You’ll be able to set your own schedule: If you’re a workout buff, you know how important it is to set your own rhythm. Fortunately, as an online student, you’ll be able to create your own schedule and train on your own terms. This is especially helpful if you have another job to work around, or even a family to take care of. On-campus programs will require you to meet on a strict schedule, which can clash with your other obligations.
    • You’ll get used to dealing with different personalities: As a personal trainer, you’ll be expected to work with clients from all walks of life. You’ll be expected to write training plans for children, the elderly, and everyone in between. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to work with a wide variety of people. Your online classes will be great practice for this.
    • Your writing skills will improve: One of the most important parts of your job as a physical trainer will be preparing exercise plans for your clients. This means you’ll need to provide clear, concise directions they can follow at home. Online courses are a great way to sharpen your writing skills to prepare you for this task. Posting on discussion forums and communicating with your instructors in writing will teach you to organize your thoughts coherently. Future employers will be sure to notice your ability to express yourself through writing.
    • The future of personal training is digital: Instead of limiting themselves to trainers in their immediate area, many people are choosing to find a trainer across the country that better suits their needs. This means that health and fitness apps are exploding in popularity. And by earning an online degree, you’ll be well-acquainted with the tech side of personal training long before you gain your first client. Future employers will appreciate your tech-savvy background as well.
  • It’s easy to earn a certificate alongside your degree: Even if you choose a broader major such as kinesiology or exercise science, earning your personal training certificate will be quick and easy. In fact, some programs can be completed in as little as two months.

What are the disadvantages of an online personal training degree?

Although earning your degree online can be rewarding, it isn’t for everyone. It’s important to know the benefits of classroom learning vs. online learning before you decide on your next steps.

 Consider the following disadvantages when deciding whether to earn your degree online:

    • In-person training teaches you proper workout form: One of the major drawbacks to online fitness programs is that it can be difficult to learn proper form from a distance. Future employers know that perfect form is a must to avoid injuring clients. This means you’ll need to completely master each exercise and understand how it impacts different body types. If you’re considering earning your degree online, be prepared to get some serious in-person training at your local gym so employers won’t worry about your form.
    • You’ll miss out on chances to work with clients face-to-face: As a personal trainer, you’re going to be dealing with clients all day every day. On-campus programs give you the chance to work with partners and sharpen your people skills. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to critique other students’ form. Unfortunately, you may miss out on these valuable experiences if you choose distance learning—and employers may worry about your lack of face-to-face experience unless you get an internship.
  • It may be harder to stay motivated: With online degrees, self-motivation is an issue for many students. And when exercise is involved, it can be even harder to stay on track. There are many benefits to having an in-person exercise partner, and it’s much easier to stay motivated with a friend by your side. Be sure to find a gym-buddy in your area who will help you stay focused.

How do employers feel about online personal training degrees?

Employers will appreciate the advanced writing skills you’ve gained from your online education, as well as your self-motivation. Also, they’ll be impressed if they see you’ve had an internship while earning your online degree. A successful internship will speak volumes about your ability to stay motivated and help your future clients reach their fitness goals.

The key to making sure employers respect your online degree is to put in the extra work, find a gym buddy, and make sure your form is perfect.  You risk missing out on valuable face-to-face instruction by earning your degree completely online, but with a bit of self-discipline, your online degree will be just as respected as a traditional one.

If you’re still worried about employers respecting your online degree, these online courses vs traditional classes statistics from Northeastern University may ease your mind:

  • 61% of HR managers believe that online classes are of equal (or greater) value to on-campus degrees
  • 71% of companies have hired someone with an online degree in the past year
  • 52% of HR personnel believe that in the future all degrees will be completed online

Erica Ciko Campbell

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Biology| Utica College

Associate of Science (A.S.)| Herkimer County Community College

October 2019

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