10 Best Personal Trainer Online Courses in 2023

Jan 24, 2023 - 11 min read
personal trainer online courses

You’ve decided to enter the fitness industry and become a personal trainer and now you’re looking for the best way to get certified. Have you considered taking an online course?

There are several reputable organizations that offer quality personal trainer online courses that will give you the knowledge, skills, and credentials needed to become a certified personal trainer.

This is exactly what we’re going to explore in this article.

Before we take a look at some of the top online personal training certifications curated by our fitness professionals, here are some factors you need to consider:

Choosing the Right Certification Program for You

With so many options available, though, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which program is right for you. Here are some pointers to help make sure you choose the best one.

Research your Options

The first step in choosing an online certification program is doing your research.

Read reviews from past and current students, as well as check out what other professionals in the field have to say about the various programs available.

Take your time and gather as much information as possible so that you can make an informed decision about which program is right for you.

Understand Your Goals

Not all online personal trainer certifications are created equal—some are more rigorous than others and offer different levels of skill development and knowledge acquisition.

Consider what your goals are for becoming a certified personal trainer before committing to a particular program.

Do you want a general overview of the field or do you need advanced knowledge? The answer will help guide your decision when selecting an online program.

Consider Accreditation

While not all online certification programs are accredited, it’s important to consider whether or not the program you’re interested in is accredited by a major organization such as National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) .

Having accreditation means that employers will recognize and accept your certification, giving you more job prospects after completing your coursework.

Check Out the Curriculum

Before enrolling in any online personal training certification program, take some time to review its curriculum.

What topics does it cover? How long do students have access to course materials? Are there any hands-on components involved?

Make sure that the curriculum meets all of your needs before committing to a program.

Look at the Cost vs Benefit Ratio

When choosing an online personal training certification program, the cost will obviously be a factor.

Look for programs that offer competitive pricing without sacrificing quality education and support—this will ensure that you get value for your money without breaking the bank.

Also, be on the lookout for discounts or special offers that may apply if you enroll early or sign up with certain payment plans.

Consider On-Going Support and Resources

Finally, don’t forget to look into what kind of ongoing support and resources are offered by each program throughout and after enrollment.

Do they provide mentorships or internships that allow students access to real-world experience? Do they offer career counseling services upon completion of their courses?

These types of support systems can be invaluable during your journey toward becoming a certified personal trainer.

The 10 Best Personal Trainer Certifications

1. American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Logo of American council on exercise (ACE)

The American Council on Exercise offers several courses in Fitness Training Certification that cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, biomechanics and kinesiology, exercise programming, and more.

The ACE also offers specialized certifications in areas such as Group Fitness Instruction or Health Coaching.

When you complete their personal trainer program, you will get your official certification that says ACE certified personal trainer.

By the end of the course, you also will gain knowledge on how to assess clients’ needs, design effective programs, and provide safe guidance during workouts.

2. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

Logo of International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

This is one of the most comprehensive personal trainer certifications available for aspiring personal trainers. It includes in-depth information on nutrition, anatomy, kinesiology, exercise science, and more.

The course also includes hands-on practice with clients and real-world scenarios so that you can learn how to apply your training knowledge in different settings.

Plus, the ISSA offers a job placement program after completion of the program which can be beneficial for those who want to jump right into their new career.

3. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

Logo of American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM offers a variety of online courses ranging from basic certification programs to advanced specialty certifications like Strength & Conditioning Specialist or Advanced Personal Training Certification.

This online personal training certification provides students with hands-on experience through video demonstrations by professional trainers along with learning resources such as textbooks for further study.

The ACSM also provides continuing education credits after the successful completion of any one of their certification programs so that attendees can stay up-to-date on the latest industry practices without having to repeat coursework multiple times over their career span.

4. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Logo of National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

NSCA provides a wide range of specialty personal training certifications designed to help trainers hone their skill sets in specific areas such as strength training or exercise rehabilitation therapy.

The NSCA also has several advanced certification options which are tailored towards experienced professionals looking to become experts within their field or focus on specific areas like nutrition counseling or sports performance coaching.

All certifications offered by NSCA include detailed instruction manuals along with practice assessments so students can test their understanding before taking exams at the end of each module.

5. National Academy Of Sports Medicine (NASM)

Logo of National Academy Of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM provides many levels of online personal trainer certification.

Their personal trainer certification program includes learning materials that cover topics such as nutrition coaching principles, functional movement assessment techniques, program design strategies, and much more.

Additionally, they have programs such as corrective exercise training or specialized nutrition certifications if you’re looking to specialize in certain areas within your profession.

6. National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

Logo of National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA)

NESTA has been around since 1992 and is one of the largest certifying bodies in the industry.

Their online course includes professionally produced video instruction on topics like anatomy & physiology program design, nutrition & supplementation, health assessment procedures, motivational strategies & goal setting techniques, legal issues & liability concerns, business planning & marketing tactics, sports psychology & performance enhancement strategies.

The course also includes several practice exams to ensure learners understand the material before they attempt their final exam.

7. Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

Logo of Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

AFAA offers one of the most popular online personal trainer courses available today.

This personal training program provides comprehensive training in all areas of fitness, including nutrition and exercise science.

Upon completion of this course, you will be qualified for entry-level positions as a personal trainer or group fitness instructor.

The AFAA offers multiple certifications, including group exercise certification, and specialized certifications like sunrise yoga and indoor cycling certification

They offer online courses that include an online exam after each module so learners can test their understanding.

Additionally, AFAA has live virtual workshops that are led by an instructor over Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.

8. National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF)

Logo of National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF)

NCSF provides multiple certifications such as personal trainer certification and strength coach certification.

Their Personal Trainer Certification Course consists of ten modules covering topics from anatomy & physiology to program design to health assessments and more.

Learners have access to hours of video content as well as practice quizzes throughout the modules for added reinforcement and review for their final exam at the end of the course.

9. Fitness Mentors (FM)

Logo of Fitness Mentors (FM)

Fitness Mentors are one of the newer players in the field but have quickly become one of the most popular certifying bodies due to their comprehensive curriculum which covers everything from human anatomy & physiology to business principles for trainers.

In addition to all this information they also offer personalized coaching sessions with experienced trainers who can help answer any questions, students may have about their programs or career paths going forward once they’ve completed their certification process with FM.

Plus FM offers several specializations like Pain Management Specialists so aspiring trainers can deepen their knowledge base beyond just general fitness instruction if they choose to do so!

10. National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)

Logo of National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT)

NFPT is one of the leading organizations for personal trainers.

Their certification program consists of three components: an online course with video lectures and a comprehensive e-book; a hands-on skills assessment; and a final exam.

The course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become successful fitness professionals.

NFPT also offers specializations such as Endurance Training Specialist, Cancer Recovery Specialist, and many more.

Why Should You Get Certified as a Personal Trainer?

Aren’t books and YouTube videos sufficient for instructing you on what you need to know to become a personal trainer?

Are there any advantages to investing your hard-earned money in one of these certification programs?

Does getting certified make sense financially and time-wise?

The answer is yes! Becoming certified offers numerous benefits, both for your career and your personal life.

Greater Professional Credibility

When you become certified, it shows that you have taken the initiative to further your knowledge and gain official recognition in the fitness industry.

This demonstrates to clients that you have put in the effort and dedicated yourself to becoming an expert on fitness topics—which can help build trust with potential customers.

It also opens up more job opportunities, as many gyms or health clubs require their trainers to have certification before they hire them.

Getting certified requires you to study for and pass an exam, which means that by taking this step, you will expand your knowledge of health and fitness topics.

In most cases, certification courses cover everything from anatomy and physiology to nutrition and exercise science—all of which can help prepare you for working with clients in the real world.

Greater Self Confidence

By successfully completing a certification program, you will gain confidence both in yourself and your abilities as a personal trainer.

You’ll be able to trust that the advice you give is based on sound scientific principles—and be surer of your skills when dealing with clients or potential employers.

Knowing that there are standards of safety and effectiveness behind each workout or meal plan gives people an added layer of assurance when they come to you for help achieving their fitness goals.

Easier Networking Opportunities

Having official certification can make it easier for someone just starting out in the field to connect with other professionals who are already established in the industry.

Being part of organizations like The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) provides access not only to additional resources but also mentorship opportunities from experienced trainers who can share their advice or open doors for new business prospects and fitness networking down the line.

Better Client Relationships

As mentioned above, having certification helps build trust between trainer and client by showing them that you are knowledgeable about important fitness topics such as anatomy and nutrition.

Not only does this ensure that they feel comfortable working with you but it also makes it easier for them to understand exactly why certain exercises or meal plans are recommended—which helps them stay motivated when it comes time to put those plans into action!

What Can You Expect After Becoming a Certified Personal Trainer?

Once you have your certification, it’s time to start thinking about how to make the most of your newfound skills.

Career Prospects

Your career prospects will depend on your individual goals and interests. As a personal trainer, you could work in a gym setting or even set up shop as an independent contractor.

If you decide to work in a gym, you’ll likely be working with clients on an individual basis or leading small classes.

On the other hand, if you opt to become an independent contractor, you may find yourself teaching one-on-one sessions at clients’ homes or even providing personal training online from home.

You may also find yourself offering specialized services such as nutritional counseling, yoga instruction, physical therapy rehabilitation services, and more.

The possibilities are truly endless as there are a number of ways to make money with fitness ! Just remember that regardless of which route you choose to take with your certification, having good communication skills and business acumen will be key to success.

Marketing Your Services

Once you have decided on the route that best fits your career ambitions, it is important that you create strategies for marketing your services effectively.

This means utilizing both traditional and digital marketing techniques such as word-of-mouth advertising, creating flyers and distributing them at local gyms or health clubs, and posting fitness content on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook ads.

Additionally, reaching out directly to potential clients via email is another great way to get started in building relationships with people who might be interested in hiring you as their personal trainer.


Personal trainers have become increasingly sought after over recent years due to the growing popularity of health and wellness activities like exercising in a yoga studio or HIIT workouts being offered at gyms all over the country!

Becoming certified is essential if you want to stand out from other trainers in your area and ensure your clients are getting quality instruction - so why not take advantage of these amazing online courses today?

With these options alone providing detailed instruction on different aspects such as program design or injury prevention - you are sure to learn a lot!

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Eduardo Carreras

SEO Manager

Eduardo Carreras is Virtuagym's SEO Manager. With a background in sports & fitness and over a decade of Digital Marketing experience, he approaches the health-tech industry with passion and structure alike.