If you are passionate about fitness, becoming a personal trainer can be a great career move for you. The job pays well and you will be doing something that you love every day. Like with everything, there are pros and cons to it. But if you're passionate about it, then most likely the pros will far outweight the cons.
But, before you become a personal trainer, you will first need to get certified. And, personal trainer certification courses don’t come cheap. The best personal trainer certifications cost hundreds of dollars. And this means they may be out of reach for most people looking to earn a lower priced personal trainer certification.
The good news, there are various ways of becoming a personal trainer for free. You just need to know where to look. In this article, we will explore different ways how to become a personal trainer for free.
1. Work in a Fitness Center
Working in a fitness center is one of the easiest ways of earning a free personal trainer certification. With this method, you will be working in a fitness center such as a gym even if you are not a personal trainer.
For instance, you can be attending to routine tasks like cleaning fitness equipment, selling memberships, manning the front desk, running the gym’s social media platforms, or checking in members.
And if show dedication and maximum commitment at work, the gym owners will see that, you are a valuable member of their team. They may then consider sponsoring your personal trainer course until you earn your personal trainer certification.
But, we should mention that this method of becoming a fitness instructor for free comes with a catch. In most situations, the fitness center may require you to sign a contract, stipulating that you will offer your services at the gym after earning your personal trainer certification for a certain duration.
Such a contract is put in place to prevent a personal trainer who has been sponsored by the gym from leaving immediately after they’ve earned their certification. The duration that you may be required to continue offering your services at the gym will vary from one employer to the other.
2. Leverage Military Benefits
If you have served in the military, there’s a high chance that you qualify for education benefits, offered under the GI Bill by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. You can then use these education benefits to pursue a personal trainer course and earn your certification.
First, you will need to choose a VA-approved school or institution, which accepts GI Bill education benefits. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has listed the institutions that accept this arrangement.
It also has a handy online comparison tool, which you can use to compare the education benefits that you will receive from each institution. From there, you can then choose a school that suits you best.
Once you’ve selected your preferred school, you then need to apply for GI Bill benefits. Your application will be processed within 13 days. And once it’s approved, you can then go on to become a personal trainer for free.
Also, some personal trainer certification programs like ISSA, NASM, AFPA, ACE, NCSF, and NESTA, offer discounts for veterans and military members. So, in case you don’t qualify for GI Bill benefits, you can also check out such institutions, and you will be able to become a fitness instructor without having to pay the standard amount.
3. Check Out Free Personal Training Courses
There are a couple of organizations, which offer free personal training courses. Most of these courses are usually offered online. The Westminster Adult Education Service has such a course, where you will earn an NCFE CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Nutrition and Health. So, if you live in the U.K and you are looking for free online personal trainer courses, you should check out this one.
Alison, the free online education platform, also offers several free fitness courses online, which can help you to become a fitness instructor for free. After completing the course, you will sit for an exam, where you will be required to achieve a pass mark of 80% or higher. If you manage to pass the exam, you will get a certificate. However, you will be required to purchase the certificate from the platform’s shop.
But, considering a digital certificate only goes for $21 while a printed personal trainer certificate costs approximately $27, you can see that you are almost getting your personal trainer certification for free.
You should keep in mind that some fitness centers might not recognize some of these free personal training courses. So, before you invest your time pursuing one, you should first check its recognition. And, the reviews posted for that course should furnish you with this information. But overall, they provide an affordable means of getting your feet wet in the fitness world.
4. Consider Deferred Payment Courses
Deferred payment courses provide yet another route to becoming a fitness instructor for free. However, these personal training courses are not free in the real sense. So, how do they work?
In an ordinary situation, you would pay for a personal trainer course upfront, before you can access the reading materials and other vital resources. But in deferred payment courses, you are allowed to register for the personal trainer course and access the learning resources, without making an upfront payment.
You will then be required to pay for the course once you become a certified personal trainer and begin earning. You will only begin paying for the course when your personal trainer earnings pass a certain threshold.
The deferred payment course may not be entirely free. It’s sort of a loan that the program gives you to study the course. Hence, it’s highly likely you will end up paying a higher amount for the course upon completion, compared to someone who pays upfront. It’s more like purchasing a car upfront versus purchasing it via financing.
However, as much as you may end up paying more for the course, it provides a great solution for someone who wants to become a certified personal trainer, but they don’t have the hundreds of dollars needed to make an upfront payment.
There are several colleges and universities, which offer deferred tuition plans or deferred payment for their courses. So, you simply need to conduct some research and identify such institutions offering personal training courses.
5. Check Out Community Educational Programs
Another method of how to become a personal trainer for free is through community educational programs. Some communities across the country run free educational programs for their residents.
For instance, if you live in Chicago, you may be eligible to pursue an associate’s degree from a community college. And, you won’t be required to pay anything. This program is offered through an initiative known as City Colleges of Chicago.
To qualify for this program, you will need to have graduated from a CPS high school with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. If you meet this qualification, you then need to fill out the online application and select a school of your choice.
You will also need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This program currently has more than 12,500 graduates doing various courses at no cost. So, if you are a Chicago resident and you are a recent graduate who has earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you should check out this program.
In case you live in another state or your community college doesn’t offer free personal trainer courses, you can apply for scholarships or grants. Universities and colleges offer grants and scholarships, which are based on academic merit and need.
These grants and scholarships can considerably reduce the cost of your personal trainer course. If you are ready to invest your time doing research, then you should be able to identify some universities and colleges that offer such scholarships and grants. From there, you can apply and try your luck.
6. Consider Free Personal Trainer Taster Courses
Free personal trainer taster courses are designed to give you a sneak peek of the course. Some of the personal trainer certification providers that offer free taster courses include ACE and NASM.
Once you sign up for the free taster course, you will get access to the study materials, meaning you have an opportunity to complete the course. With these courses, you learn to become a personal trainer for free, since you will be absorbing all the information they are providing. However, as much as you may complete the course, you will not earn a certification.
If you are looking to become a personal trainer but you are not fully sure whether this is the right career move for you, taster courses will provide you with more information. And from there, you will have an opportunity to decide whether to pay for the course, instead of paying upfront for the entire course, only to realize later that you made a mistake.
7. Wrapping It Up
As you can see, there are several ways that can help you to become a personal trainer for free. But out of these methods, working in a gym provides the best option. Your employer will pay for your course until you get your certificate. You will then repay them by offering your services at the facility, after earning your certification. And at the same, you will also be gaining valuable skills and experience.