Fitness & Massage

Online Personal Training Courses – Can You Really Qualify Behind a Screen?

Lockdown online personal training course
09 May 2020

Lockdown learning

There were many online personal training courses available on the market but after the government announced the lockdown, there has been an increase of providers allowing students to enrol onto an online personal training course.

More education companies have adapted their delivery models and moved to a mostly online model, to ensure they can continue to train their students. From a business point this has become a necessity to survive, but can you really qualify as a personal trainer behind a screen?

Online personal training courses

Before the lockdown, the past 5 years have seen companies already starting to move away from face to face delivery to online learning. Some of the biggest providers on the market operate with a majority or 100% online personal training courses.

From a business point of view, this can make sense. Standardised eLearning modules, vast libraries of pre recorded seminars and videos, as well as reducing facilities rental costs and tutor fees.

The courses are predominantly completed on an online platform or eLearning portal. Students are able to complete the work in their own time and hand in assessments and assignments online. They’re assigned a tutor who is often contactable via email and some companies provide planned live webinars that students can attend.

Traditionally, assessments for the qualification would take place with a tutor in a gym facility. However some online courses that are “100% online” allow for students to attend a gym in their own time and simply record their assessment with a dummy client. Meaning if you get this right, you’ll never have to attend any training days and will receive your certification in the post.

When they do and don't work

Online learning can be a great tool in supplementing practical, gym based training when you are becoming a personal trainer. A lot of communications and resources you use as a PT is online, whether that be using a training app or watching videos so it makes sense to incorporate that into your learning as technology is a huge part of everyone’s lives.

Though, online only courses have quite a bad rep among experienced fitness professionals due to their lack of practical, real life training. You will find the majority of facility managers and head trainers are less likely to want to employ someone who hasn’t been trained on the gym floor. Simply because they are less likely to have learnt the basics of face to face training, communicating with members and staff, and general know-how on the gym floor.

We believe that online only courses only really work if you fall into two categories of students. First of all, those who are looking to do the qualification in their spare time, and are using the certification to simply bolster their main occupation or profession, for example a PE teacher. The second type of student this works well for are those who simply cannot commit to attending face to face training days due to their current work or family commitments.

Other than that, we highly advise students to seek courses that have enough face-to-face training sessions so they can learn the core skills from experienced tutors in person, on the gym floor. How many is enough? Well we deliver 15 individual sessions across a commercial and independent gym but in general we advise on seeking a course that has at least 8-10 days on the gym floor.

So can you really qualify as a personal trainer behind a screen?

Well technically, yes you can qualify without any face-to-face training and this may work in the cases we’ve outlined in this blog.

As you see more and more courses advertised whilst facilities are closed, be sure to seek those that are using the lockdown now to start the qualification but are promising enough face to face training days so you qualify feeling confident and ready for the gym floor.

Online personal training courses


  • Convenientan online personal training course can be completed in your own time, anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
  • Cheap usually a cheaper option compared to face-to-face delivery.
  • Remote locations - good if there aren't any courses delivered near to your location.


  • Lacks practical, real life training and experience - even if you want to be an online PT you need to master the skills on the gym floor.
  • Standardised learningno room for individualised learning, unique experiences between tutors and peers on the course to develop and learn from.
  • Requires a lot of self-disciplinestudents can often miss deadlines and not keep up with reading/tasks when all learning is online.
  • Tech issues - if you are having tech issues then this can effect your ability to study the course.

At Vector we combine Elearning with extensive face-to-face training. Industry specific training is at the core of what we do and we firmly believe that to become a fitness professional you need to master the hands–on skills.

Check our course page here and if you have any questions on our upcoming courses get in touch and to reserve your place.

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