It’s not necessarily where you start, but where you’re going and where you finish. Whether someone is a good trainer depends on not only on how well they can process written material and take a test online or in person, it’s how well they relate to and work with clients.
My preference is in-person education, simply because I like to ask questions as part of my learning experience.
I think this trend is growing. I have been approached by my club to add to my current certifications from the online company Smart Fitness Universtiy Online.
A newcomer may find online certification sites appealing if on a limited budget or cannot travel to a workshop.
I can appreciate much of what is said above, but I don’t agree with full online certification in a field that requires such important practical applications. I am currently doing a Yoga Teacher Training, and you can NOT teach alignment and adjustments online… I also feel you need to work with your personality in real live situations. How do you approach people? How do you listen to them? How is your energy or your communication skills? Seriously, you would hire a Yoga instructor who had only an online certification? I think the fact that I am committing to the program with my heart and soul (and yes – time and money!) makes my learning experience much more enriched and more applicable than someone who paid a couple hundred dollars to get a paper signed off claiming they were capable and competent instructors. I agree many in class personal trainer certifications can also be pretty Mickey Mouse, but I would hope the gyms hiring would know where the reputable places are and who are trusted instructors. 🙂
There are good “online” certifications that are accredited. living in Alaska all of mine are online then proctored tests…well except for my USAW which I did in Vegas at the NSCA conference a few years ago. I can also tell you that I am more knowledgeable then most trainers that I have met in person. It blows me away how much ignorance I have seen in trainers regardless of who certified them. It is more about it being a passion then a piece of paper. If you love it you will never stop learning, if you don’t you will think you know enough and end up hurting somebody.