Never one for a quiet life, as soon as I completed the first year of my PhD it was on to my next project - spending my summer training to become a PT with TrainFitness. There’s a couple of reasons I wanted to take on this challenge; you already know I’m passionate about movement, but I want to really understand how to train effectively and safely, I love working with people to help them recognise and reach their potential and becoming a personal trainer offers me the opportunity to do this and work flexibly around my research.
I’m studying part-time, which comprises home study plus a part-time clinic where I get face to face input from a tutor. There are tonnes of different courses out there - online, part-time, full-time - but I went for this option with this provider because I felt it was important to have face to face interaction as I want to make sure I’m doing everything safely and with the best technique, and also because the TrainFitness gym where clinics are held is really convenient for me. I did do a lot of research about providers before I signed up with TrainFitness, but honestly they all seemed much of a muchness and essentially they all follow the same curriculum, so it’s all down to what works for you.
The first step in training to become a personal trainer is to complete L2 gym instructor training. Over the last five weeks Monday and Tuesday evenings, plus a huge number of hours of my own time, have been given over to developing the skills and knowledge to plan and prepare gym-based programmes for apparently healthy adults, to conduct consultations and to work with clients to motivate and support them. It’s been intense, interesting and frustrating all at once, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the last five weeks.
It’s not always made clear, but you are expected to have worked through the online course BEFORE you start attending clinic. I didn’t know about this, and even when I found out I was busy finishing first year of my PhD so didn’t have time to get through the work. This made the course more stressful than it should’ve been.
I, perhaps naively, thought clinic would be more like a lecture. While you do spend time running through the concepts covered by the course it is revision, not teaching.
Don’t underestimate the time commitment. The format of the course demands a lot of hours - seven hours a week in clinic and several hours work on each of the online units. It can be a slog, it will be worth it.
The course jumps around quite a lot, moving from anatomy and physiology to client care with each lesson. This can make it tricky to assimilate and build concepts so I found it helpful to consolidate everything together in one document once I’d finished the online modules. I’ll do a post about how I did this soon.
Because of the structure of the course it can feel like there’s a lot more depth to the material than there actually is. I found this overwhelming, but again it helped to consolidate the information so you can get a better feel for everything.
If you want feedback you need to ask your tutor, especially around your form in the gym (which you will need to nail for your practical exams).
Practice, practice, practice - practice delivering workouts, practice your lifting technique, practice answering multiple choice questions - the more practice you get in, the more confident you’ll be on test day. It is just like training for a marathon, you practice over time and then you deliver the performance.
Training to become a fitness professional is a lot of work, and it should be because you are dealing with people’s bodies, but it’s totally worth the commitment knowing that in a few months time I’ll be in a place to help people live their best lives through movement.