Online education has developed significantly over the last 10 years to the point where it is now possible to get a strong education in vocational and practical skills through the online / e-learning world. However, the online space also offers low-cost, low-quality fitness education. It is essential to do your research and ensure you are clear on what are the key factors to look out for before parting with your hard-earned cash and investing valuable study time to get certified. In this blog, we will make it 100% clear what will help you identify the better quality online personal trainer courses in Europe. We will even provide you with an overview of 5 top online course options.
Fitness in Europe
Personal training and fitness instruction are very popular professions that provide high levels of job satisfaction. Up to 74% of personal trainers stated they were very satisfied with their jobs, according to a recent report. The strong and ever-growing European fitness industry is now valued at €28.2 billion. Europe has 63,644 fitness clubs amassing 64.8 million members across the continent, according to the 2020 Deloitte market report. The fitness industry is a strong vibrant market that needs committed, motivated and well-qualified fitness instructors and personal trainers to sustain its growth and longevity. Could you be part of this rewarding industry? If the answer is ‘Yes!’, then keep reading as we guide you on how to get qualified alongside your existing commitments. Let’s start by identifying some guidelines to follow when reviewing online personal trainer courses in Europe.
Online personal trainer courses: Quality guidelines
If you search the internet for ‘online personal trainer courses in Europe’ the search results will turn out literally millions of results. Behavioural studies suggest that 91% of people do not read past the first page of internet results, but usually just amend the search term instead. This means that the first page of results will be those with strong ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO) on their website. This is not necessarily a guarantee that you have found the best quality courses in your search. We encourage a little more diligence in your research, maybe looking beyond the first page of results. We also suggest that as you thoroughly look into each training provider and that you compare your findings against the following ‘quality’ criteria.
- Accredited/approved online courses only – this means that an independent standards organisation has reviewed the quality of the online personal training course and can verify that it reaches a specified level of quality. EuropeActive and EREP’s are the organisations with the most widely accepted professional quality standards for the fitness industry in Europe.
- Verified independent reviews – these are genuine customer reviews provided using an independent review service e.g. Trustpilot, Yelp, or Google reviews. Reading past performance and experience from students who took the course can help to reassure you before purchase. Student testimonials included directly within a website can easily be selected to only show the best feedback, ignoring any negative comments. An independent review service will showcase all feedback, both critical and praiseworthy.
- Course content and assessment clearly explained – a company who is confident of their quality and materials will be transparent about the subject matter they cover and the methodology of the assessments used within the course to test and check student knowledge and skill development.
- Course duration – in simple terms quicker is not always better when it comes to educational quality. Some courses may offer unlimited time to completion. This is not always desirable, especially as online education already requires a higher degree of self-discipline. Without time restrictions it is all too easy to put off study to another day and before you know it days become weeks, weeks become months and the course doesn’t get completed. We recommended that you choose a course with a specified time limit to encourage proactive learning, but enough leeway to allow you to adapt to your personal circumstances.
- Check for course pre-requisites – this is a list of essential items or previous education that must be in place prior to being able to take the course. Some personal trainer courses may appear cheaper, but on further investigation, they have previous, and sometimes substantial, requirements to be eligible for registration.
- Tutor support – not all online personal trainer courses offer expert tutor support. Most will offer some level of support, but be thorough to check what this is. Ideally, support should be available from a qualified and experienced personal training tutor, not just from the customer service team. Live support may come in the form of emails, messaging services, phone calls, or even video calls with a real tutor in order to provide the best support to your learning experience.
- Price – the cost of a course is an important factor that cannot be ignored. It would a fair generalisation that in education you often receive back what you invest. Lower priced courses usually offer a reduced service level to justify the reduced cost. Often, though not always, higher-priced courses offer a higher level of service and quality as a reflection of the higher fee. Our advice is to seek for the best quality product and service that you can afford within your budget. If you are attracted by a low-cost course, double-check they meet the quality criteria listed above. If they do not meet the criteria, be sure you are willing to accept the reduction in service level before you purchase.
5 online personal trainer courses in Europe
Online courses can offer several benefits that make it an attractive option for learning new skills such as:
- No physical class to attend and thus no specific geographical location required for study – access available wherever there is an internet connection.
- The course timetable is usually adaptable to your personal daily schedule and can fit around your needs.
- Lessons are available to watch/read multiple times if needed.
- Course content can leverage many helpful digital features that can make the learning process more effective than the traditional live classroom model.
We have done the research and identified 5 online personal trainer courses in Europe that you may wish to review to determine which works best for you. It is important to note that these courses are those that offer all their education through e-learning, there is no face-to-face, in-person classes or another blended form of learning required. Some do require attendance at a specific venue for the final course assessments, but not for the learning process. Let’s begin with the comparison table that reviews the main items.
Nordic Fitness Education
NFE offers a 100% fully online programme through their Nordic Personal Trainer Certificate. The programme of study is all in English and requires a minimum of 4 terms of study, totalling 24 weeks. During this time the learner is required to complete 6 modules and a voluntary fitness internship, totalling 290 hours of study. The course has been independently accredited and graduates are registered as Level 4 personal trainers on the European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREP’s). Importantly the course also includes the Level 3 Fitness instructor standards. Previously unqualified individuals can start their journey to becoming a fitness professional with NFE and be confident both the Level 3 and 4 professional standards are included.
NFE state that students will always have access to an assigned personal tutor in every module who is available to support your education and grade all the assessments. NFE charge a moderate price for the higher level of support and service on offer. They offer a monthly payment plan to help spread the cost. NFE also have a very high, independent student rating to show that their graduates are very pleased with the more personal, higher service level provided.
Origym is a well-established educator that delivers fitness instructor and personal trainer courses across the UK and Ireland. They offer most of their courses in a blended learning format, but they do also offer a distance learning option through their online PT certificate. Origym courses are accredited by the NCFE in the UK and EREP’s across Europe. In order to be eligible for the personal trainer course, it is essential that students are already fitness instructor certified. These essential requirements are not included in the low-priced Origym personal trainer course. They offer flexible payment plans to help spread the cost. Origym offers all their learning through their e-learning platform. The final theory exam and practical assessments must be taken at one of their specified physical locations across the UK or Ireland. This may be a problem for international students outside of these two countries.
DS Personal Training School
DS PT school offer an online distance learning personal trainer course option for Swedish speaking individuals. The course is delivered online, with the final assessments requiring attendance at one of their 4 specified venues across Sweden. They are clearly focused on serving the Swedish fitness market. The course appears to be thoroughly assessed which is usually a good sign of quality standards. It is accredited by EREP’s as well to provide an additional sign of reaching an independently approved standard.
DS PT school provide a summary list of the subject matter that they cover on the course. However, little mention is made on the website of how long the course takes, nor the level of support that is offered by the tutor team. The tutor team credentials are available to review. DS PT school is the most expensive option of the 5 courses we reviewed, but they do offer a payment instalment plan to help spread the cost.
Intensive PT is a rapidly expanding Swedish company that now offers an ‘International’ online personal training course. This appears to mean that a version of their established Swedish language PT course has been translated and is now available in English as an online distance learning option. The course has been independently verified and graduates are eligible for registration with EREP’s. The Swedish site identifies all the tutor team with a short biography of their qualifications, but this is not present on the online, distance learning site. The level of tutor support for the online course is not clarified and may need to be established through communication with Intensive PT directly.
The course details state that there are no time limits on the study period. Students are allowed to progress entirely at their own pace. This may work for the truly self-motivated student, but maybe a factor to consider if you need more encouragement and accountability to complete your learning journey.
Online Trainer Lizenz
Online Trainer Lizenz is a German branded company that is focusing purely on the German online personal trainer market. They have expanded rapidly and taught 1000’s of students to date. This is a sign of their successful marketing and effective educational product that they offer in their Fitness Trainer A license. The course is specifically for the German market, only available in the German language. They only have educational endorsements from German standards of recognition in ZFU and TUV-SUD.
The website indicates the course is on par with the Level 4 European Qualification Framework, but they do not currently hold EREP’s professional approval for the fitness industry. OTL have a very high approval rate on their independent reviews. This is a reliable indicator that customers are happy with this lower-cost product. It is clear that Online Trainer Lizenz has positioned themselves in a more budget price bracket with a reduced service level compared to other education providers. But several signs show they are offering good value for the price and keeping their customers satisfied.
We have only highlighted 5 of the more prominent online personal trainer courses in Europe in this blog (as of Jan 21). The fitness education industry is developing all the time. Training providers continue to improve their product offerings and release new course options. In time there will likely be more choice. You may find through your own research that other training providers offer a suitable online personal training course in your country and language. By all means, if you have checked these courses against the quality criteria above and you are happy with what you have found then, by all means, get registered and get qualified. There is a vibrant fitness industry waiting to receive you!