Finding free personal trainer courses to get yourself qualified isn’t easy. Most training programs cost several hundred dollars in the US and even more if you’re in the UK. However, there are ways to get yourself certified for free if you know where to look…
In this article – we explain how free personal training courses work and provide a comprehensive list of certification options.
- How free personal trainer courses work
- Free taster courses
- Employer-sponsored personal training courses
- Third-party funded courses
- Deferred payment options
- Free personal trainer courses online
How Free Personal Trainer Courses Work
When something is free, there’s usually a catch, right? It’s very rare to genuinely receive something for nothing and educational courses are no exception.
The good news is that there are some legitimately free training options that enable you to get certified. Unfortunately, there are also some courses that are marketed as free but aren’t quite what they seem.
Here are the different types of free personal trainer courses that are usually offered…
- Taster courses – give you access to personal training study materials for free but don’t cover the entire curriculum so you won’t be certified at the end of it.
- Employer-sponsored – some gyms and health clubs will pay for your training if you commit to working for them for a certain amount of time.
- Third-party funding – such as government schemes which cover the course fees for young people, military veterans, or those who are unemployed.
- Deferred payment – loans which cover the cost but you have to pay back once you’re earning over a certain amount (often positioned as ‘free’ but they really aren’t in the long run).
- Online promotions – these are usually new courses that offer free participation in return for student reviews and testimonials.
As you can see, only the employer-sponsored and third-party funding options are genuinely free. They allow you get certified as a PT without having to pay for the course fees yourself.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail so you can decide which one may be suitable for you…
Quick note – we may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you opt for a paid course with some of the training providers below.
Free Taster Courses
Some training providers like ACE and NASM offer free taster courses. You can take a sneak peek at the ACE personal training certification online for free here and NASM one here. This allows you to review their study materials and decide if online or distance learning is right for you.
Although it won’t get you certified, we do think they’re valuable courses to do. Working through the materials is an excellent way to understand what the real course will be like.
You effectively learn to be a personal trainer for free by absorbing all of the info that they provide. It’s a risk-free way of testing the water without any financial commitment.
It’s also a testament to the quality of ACE and NASM’s teaching in particular. We aren’t aware of any other training providers who give away educational content for free. But they are so confident that you’ll love their courses that they’re willing to give you access without any kind of payment required. That’s pretty cool.
Employer-Sponsored Personal Training Courses
If you do decide to become a personal trainer, you’ll need to complete a recognised certification. However, getting certified can be expensive.
The cheapest personal training certifications start at $599 and can easily run into the thousands. So, it’s no wonder that people are looking for free alternatives that will allow them to pursue a new career without a hefty price tag.
The good news is that many gym operators are desperate to hire new staff so will pay for you to become certified. The downside is that you’ll need to commit to working for them for a set period of time (in order for their investment to be worthwhile). If you leave before the contract ends, you’ll have to repay the cost of the training course.
For many people, this is the best way to get a free personal training certification and guaranteed job to boot. Working for a big gym chain may not be everyone’s dream but it’s an excellent way to get started and learn the ropes. They also tend to offer more structured professional development training along the way such as functional and TRX courses.
To find these employer-sponsored training opportunities, check on the big job sites or visit gym websites directly.
Third-Party Funded Courses
There are also government-funded training options available for young people or those seeking apprenticeships. If you don’t have a job, then you may qualify for one of the many free personal training courses for unemployed people.
There are certain criteria you’ll need to meet, but doing so will allow you to become fully certified for free and embark on a new career path. Here’s a list of the funding for personal training courses available…
- Funding education for 16- to 19-year-olds (UK)
- Apprenticeships (UK)
- Legal Entitlement Funding (UK)
- Low Value Provision Scheme for unemployed people (UK)
You can get a free personal training certification in the UK with government-funded courses run by Active IQ, PTQ, Body Focus, and Future Fit…
- Active IQ Level 3 Diploma In Fitness Instructing & Personal Training
- PTQ Level 3 Personal Training Certificate
- Body Focus Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Personal Training
- Future Fit Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training (military)
Deferred Payment Options
Unfortunately, many of the courses that claim to be ‘free’ aren’t quite what they seem. There are several companies that promote and market their certifications as free or fully funded when this isn’t accurate.
While some of the funded courses are legitimate (as we’ve covered in the previous section), others require you to get a loan to pay for them. This may be a solution for some as it removes the need to have the money upfront. But you will need to pay back the cost once you’re earning enough.
In the UK, would-be personal trainers can use the Advanced Learner Loan to pay for their certification. Similar funding programs are available in other countries so it may be worth researching locally.
Free Personal Trainer Courses Online
On a brighter note, there are a wealth of free personal trainer courses available online for those that are qualified. These will help you further expand your knowledge or develop specialist skills.
At the time of writing, we found the following personal trainer courses online for free…
- ACE Personal Training Program Design
- NASM Group Personal Training Specialist (GPTS)
- NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training (CES)
- NASM Weight Loss Specialist (WLS)
- NASM Essentials of Sports Performance Training (PES)
- MMA Conditioning Specialist (MMA)
Do you know of other free personal trainer courses that we can add to our article? Then send us an email with your suggestions or additional funding ideas. We want this to be the best and most comprehensive guide for people around the world so feel free to submit your recommendations.