Group exercise and personal training are very different and require different levels of knowledge and certifications. You should not be personal training if you are not certified/qualified. It is very beneficial to have both certifications in my opinion, as they do overlap in some areas and have helped become stronger as both a trainer and group instructor.
There are many certifications to choose from, and I would go with an NCCA accredited one. They will all have different requirements and the amount of time necessary to prepare for the exam is all individual.
Perhaps start with the one that interests you the most (a group exercise certification is easier to get because it is not as in-depth and the textbooks are shorter). And then, try small-group training as a bridge to the other field. I think NASM has a specialty for small-group training but I don’t know of other certifications specifically for small group. My group-ex certifications covered small group until I decided to focus less on “group” and more on “training.”
As for the time involved, it really depends on which test you take and how good of a test-taker you are. My first group-ex certification, I enrolled in a 56-hour prep course (24 years ago, no longer exists). For personal training, I think I put in about 200 hours.
there is a reason why there are personal training certifications AND group fitness certifications and not just one to cover both. They are require different skill sets, and even the liability insurances differentiate between the two.
Personal Training and Group Training are two different types of beasts. While there is overlap between the two, the group training focuses more on choreography, cueing techniques, group safety and performance as well as modifications for different intensity levels. There are some people who are inappropriate for group training due to their health issues and you need to be able to screen that out quickly. As such, many gyms require group instructors to have a group training certification.
There are many certificate programs for group and personal training. If I were starting out (as a fitness pro) and did not know what to do-I would get a personal training certification from ACE, WITS, or NASM and then decide if I wanted to teach individuals vs. groups.
Hope this helps.
Personal training and group exercise instruction are very different.
In group, you have to be concerned with the safety of many people, so the moves you teach are limited by contraindications. You have to be able to manage a crowd, are constantly scanning every member, and you’re providing multiple levels of options for people, simultaneously.
In personal training, you have to focus on one person, what their goals are, what their injury history is, and act in a way that’s specifically designed to help them.
Personal training isn’t in the scope of a group exercise certification.
More later. I have to go teach group-ex. 🙂