12 Personal Trainer courses to whip folks into tip-top shape

Do you like interacting with people and motivating them to become better? Do you keep fit and look the part? Keen to always learn and improve, while learning how to grow a client base (and maybe even a business)? Want a little more control over your working schedule?

A career as a personal trainer could be just what the doctor ordered.

If you’re giving this career path deep thought, we leave you with some great insights we’ve found on becoming a personal trainer—from a personal trainer himself, of course—as well as a list of professional certification courses to explore. This isn’t an exhaustive list and is merely an introduction to some of the more popular ones out there.

Do note that the courses listed here are Certifications from Professional bodies as well as full-time sports science courses from institutions! There are also education partners out there offering training courses and workshops for the former should you need an extra lift up.

*All course fees are accurate as of Oct 2019. All fees are in SGD unless otherwise stated. Course fees do not necessarily include examination fees. This is merely a list and not an endorsement of the courses listed, do conduct sufficient research to make sure a course fits your needs!

Professional Certification Courses

1. The Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (Singapore) – Personal Trainer Certification

Internationally accredited in over 40 countries, the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (a non-profit umbrella organisation) describes itself as the largest fitness industry organisation in the world. Its professional certifications are recognised globally in 46 countries and its Personal Trainer course is a Level 3 Course: you must first clear the Level 1 course, as well as one or more specialist electives at Level 2.

Curriculum: Learn about how to discuss muscle physiology, how to write a strength training programme, explain the benefits of core training and more. See here for full outline.

Duration: 6 days

Course Fees: Please enquire with FISAF Singapore. The last known fee is approximately $1.900.

2. National Council on Strength and Fitness Singapore – Certified Personal Trainer Course

The National Council on Strength and Fitness’s personal trainer courses are National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA, America) accredited and recognized worldwide. What sets it apart is a sales and marketing component that other certifications do not possess. Highly hands on, there will be instructor support, practice questions and review quizzes, an intensive practical workshop, as well as a bonus Personal Sales and Marketing Workshop  conducted by Gold’s Gym.

NCSF requires you to recertify every two years, and the exam will include 150 multiple-choice questions covering 9 content areas. Class sizes are kept to no more than 35 students per intake.

Curriculum: The certification programme covers topics such as Bioenergetics, Anaerobic Training, Nutritional Supplementation and Resistance Training Techniques.

Duration: Please enquire directly here

Course Fees: $1199, an early bird price of $999 is sometimes available

3. American Council on Exercise – Personal Trainer Certification

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a non-profit exercise professional and health coach certification organization. A general personal training certification, the ACE qualification is widely recognised in the fitness industry and requires you to recertify every two years. You can choose from ACE’s Basic or Plus study programmes, or take a course with one of their local education partners.  The certification exam is 3 hours long; it consists of 150 multiple-choice and true-false questions.

Curriculum: Covers topics such as the ACE Integrated Fitness Training Model, Communication and Teaching Techniques, as well as Special Exercise Programming Topics like Mind-body Exercise and Special Populations.

Duration: The Study Programmes are conducted at your own time and at your own pace. Upon purchase of a certification exam, students will have 6 months to register for an exam at a site near them.

Course Fees: USD 499 for ACE’s Plus Study Programme and USD 299 for Basic Study Programme. The Certification Programme can be added on for an additional USD 299.

4. National Academy Of Sports Medicine – Personal Training Programme

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (USA) was established in 1987 and is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). They use a fitness training system of their own. Called the Optimum Performance Training model, it takes individuals through 5 training phases, namely stabilization endurance, strength endurance, hypertrophy and finally, maximal strength and power.

NASM requires trainers to recertify every 2 years. Their exam will consist of 120 multiple-choice questions falling under pre-test and 7 other categories.

Curriculum: See above.

Duration: 10-12 weeks long

Course Fees: Approximately SGD 965 for the self-study programme and SGD 1793 for the guided study programme. Discounted rates are occasionally available.

5. International Sports Sciences Association – Personal Trainer Certification

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) was founded in 1988, and its Personal Trainer Certification is one that can be acquired on your own schedule. You can study for it at home via an online course and take the exam online as well. Course materials include a textbook, a study guide and workbook, practice exams and section quizzes, audio lectures and written lecture notes, an online exercise lab plus an online student forum. You’ll also get post certification support in the form of a free professional website as well as unlimited education support.

ISSA requires trainers to recertify every 2 years.

Curriculum: A few learning objectives include the primary concepts of human physiology at rest and during exercise, the ability to design a customised programme and understanding the fundamental principles of anatomy & physiology.

Duration: NA

Course Fees: USD 799. ISSA has occasional bundle prices for their Elite Trainer Certification, where you can get three certifications (Personal Trainer, Nutritional Trainer, advanced specialisation) for USD 999 total.

6. National Strength and Conditioning Association – Certified Personal Trainer

The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 and is widely regarded as a leader in performance training. A non-profit professional organisation that currently has over 45,000 members, it offers this performance-focused personal training certification. The content within is often used as study materials in American colleges and universities in their sports performance curricula.

NSCA requires trainers to recertify every 2 years.

Curriculum: 4 major topics, namely Client Consultation and Assessment, Programme Planning, Exercise Techniques, as well as Safety, Emergency Procedures and Legal Issues.

Duration: NA. You’ll have 6 months to take the exam after signing up for the certification.

Course Fees: 3 study packages are available with fees ranging from SGD 266-705 (approx).  Member prices are available.

Continuing Education Courses

1. PSB Academy – Diploma in Sport and Exercise Sciences

This diploma is accredited by the International Sports Professional Association (ISPA). Modes of assessments include assignments, tests, projects, reports, lab work and final examinations.

Curriculum: Study modules like Physiology of Sport & Exercise and Principles of Weight Training

Duration: 12 months (full-time and part-time)

Course Fees: $6,634.00 for local students and $10,272.00. Students will enjoy a 5% rebate if they progress to a Degree programme within a year. The course is SkillsFuture Claimable.

2. Singapore University of Social Sciences – Bachelor of Sports and Physical Education with Minor

The Bachelor of Sports and Physical Education covers both the theory and the practical, and was developed in consultation with the Physical Education and Sports Teacher Academy (PESTA) and experts in physical education (PE). The degree provides its students with the flexibility to choose courses in various areas including sports coaching, teaching primary/secondary school physical education, and outdoor education.

Curriculum: Study compulsory modules such as Exercise Physiology and Introduction to Human Movement, core compulsory modules such as Why Do Good, electives such as Adapted Physical Education and Sport, and choose to read a minor from disciplines ranging from Film Studies to Supply Chain Management.

Duration: Part-time

Course Fees:  With government subsidy, students pay approximately $22,019.53 – $22,086.94 for Singaporeans below 40, $8,817.87 – $8,844.62 for Singaporeans aged 40 and above, as well as $41,108.33 – $41,233.52 for Permanent Residents. The course is SkillsFuture Credit Claimable.

3. Nanyang Technological University – Degree in Sport Science & Management (SSM)

NTU’s Sport Science and Management Programme was established in 2009. A direct honours programme, it is an interdisciplinary programme that covers physiology, biomechanics, skill acquisition, psychology, sport management, as well as coaching.  Students will be taught by both local and international faculty and will have access to facilities such as a Motor Behaviour Lab, Bioenergetics Lab, and Physiology Lab. After two years of study, students can choose to specialise in either sport science or sport management.

Curriculum: There will be a 22-week internship programme, with opportunities to go for student exchanges and study immersion programmes.

Duration: 4 years full-time

Course Fees: $8,200 for Singaporeans, $11,500 for Permanent Residents and $17,550 for international students (per academic year).

4. Republic Polytechnic – Diploma in Sport Coaching

Republic Polytechnic is currently the only polytechnic offering sports diplomas across a comprehensive range of sports skills. Its Diploma in Sports Coaching was designed in consultation with Sport Singapore. There will be a 20-week Industry Immersion Programme with a National Sports Association or an established private organisation, as well as 16 hours of mentorship with experienced coaches.

Curriculum: You’ll take a mix of general modules, discipline modules, specialisation modules such as Introduction to Sports Coaching and Foundations of Kinesiology, freely chosen modules, as well as electives.

Duration: 3 years

Course Fees: $2,986.50 for Singaporeans, $5,916.50 for Permanent Residents, $10,559.50 for international students (per Academic Year)

5. Singapore Polytechnic – Specialist Diploma in Nutrition and Exercise Science

Singapore Polytechnic’s Specialist Diploma in Nutrition and Exercise Science is taught by certified strength and conditioning specialists, along with certified exercise physiologists who have experience working with elite athletes competing in various high-profile international competitions. Targeting professionals working in the health or fitness industries, you should ideally have at least 3 years of relevant working experience, or a diploma in science, technology or engineering.

A laptop is required for this course and students will gain hands-on experience through laboratory work and practical sessions.

Curriculum: Modules covered include Applied Nutrition, Diet and Disease, Sports Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Physical Fitness Conditioning and Exercise Prescription, as well as Exercise Rehabilitation.

Duration: 12 months over 2 semesters, three evening classes per week.

Course Fees: $858.04 for Singaporeans >40, $572.02 for Singaporeans 40 and above, $2,288.08 for Permanent Residents, $5,720.22 for others. Reduced fees are available for those in relevant schemes.

6. Institute of Technical Education – NITEC in Fitness Training

This course is offered at the ITE West, ITE Central and ITE East campuses. Graduates will have access to job opportunities at the entry level in fitness associations, fitness clubs and recreational clubs. They can also choose to further their studies, either through a Higher NITEC qualification or a Diploma. A laptop is required for this course.

Curriculum: The course will cover important things like how to conduct fitness assessments, gym orientations, group exercises, as well as how to maintain and upkeep fitness equipment. There will be a 6 month industry attachment.

Duration: 2 years

Course Fees: $426.00 a year for Singaporeans, $5,328.00 for Permanent Residents, $14,370.00 for International students

We hope this list has helped you warm up to what’s out there for personal trainer aspirants! Good luck, get out and get moving!


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