As a recent college graduate, I can say that I’ve had a fair share of online and “hybrid” classes. out of 126 hours for my degree, probably 15 of those hours were classes that were online. About 10 of those hours were “hybrid” classes. These hybrid classes meet half of the time in a classroom, and the other half of the class is an online component complete with exercises and assessments.
A lot of people undervalue online education. A lot of “old-school” learners think that the opportunity for academic dishonesty is too great and that there is no way to prove that the students’ work is actually their own. There are a number of secure failsafes that are put into place for online learning to ensure that the students are actually doing the work. Another issue is being able to use texts on assessments or quizzes.
My philosophy is that in the real world, there are hardly ever any times when you are left without any resources to help you out. It’s like giving a math exam and expecting the students to remember formulas. In the real world, no one really cares whether or not you use a “cheat sheet.” What matters is that the work gets done.
If you’re talking about hiring a group fitness instructor with an online certification, the best way to make sure that the program is actually legit and worthwhile is to check it out for yourself! As long as you know the quality of the education, it shouldn’t matter where the certification came from.
There is always a “social” component to this as well. In a world where everyone insists on texting and email and the like, it’s easy to forget how to communicate face-to-face. A classroom can teach you that, the internet cannot, not even with skype or something similar to that–it’s simply not the same.
There is more to being a fitness instructor than having a great knowledge base. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere. I’m a firm believer in investing in employees. Companies usually seek out only those with experience. These companies can miss out on great opportunites when it comes to hiring. If you hire someone with experience, you’re taking just as much a gamble as if you hired someone without experience. Someone who is used to doing something a certain way might find it difficult to adjust to the new demands. If you hire someone without experience, you can train that individual to do the job in the way that you, the boss, want it done.
What matters is heart. Hiring managers have lost sight of that these days. If someone’s heart is in what they’re doing, you can almost never go wrong hiring that individual. People who love what they’re doing will give better results than those who don’t enjoy their jobs.
Internet certification? As long as the program is nationally accredited, why not!
Ultimately, where is the difference between an online certification and any other version that does not require personal attendance?
My very first personal trainer certification with ISSA in 1995 comprised of studying a manual and then writing a paper based on a set of question. And a few weeks later – voil├á – I was a certified personal trainer. I had studied well but still refered to the manual when answering.
I like to think that I turned out well 🙂 I took my initial certification as an incentive to keep on learning.
I have no reason to believe that an online group exercise certification cannot result in a great instructor. Even more so because, particularly in group exercise, there are many skills necessary that cannot be taught but can only be acquired over time.
A trainer/instructor is only as good as their experience and knowledge. I wouldn’t hire someone with only an online cert but, we have a higher standard here. If that same person presented me with a work history and no cert of any kind, I would consider it but, would require they obtain an accredited cert within 3 months. (of which I would happily help cover some of the cost)
I agree with all that has been said here. Certainly, online education is the wave of the future. But I also think that we should consider this – online training or education is not appropriate for all types of learning or professions. Would you want to go to a physician who obtained his education online? A lawyer? The key to those two professions, as with ours is that it handles such an important aspect of our client’s lives (their physical or financial or legal health) that in-person training is a necessity. I think that with certain “hands-on” professions (think doctors, nurses, massage therapists, and yes personal trainers) you cannot discount nor ignore the importance of hands-on training BEFORE certification or licensing is handed out. So, while I think that a certain amount of what we do as trainers CAN be learned online, I think that personal training is not one of those professions that can ENTIRELY be learned and certified online.
I believe that the trend is actually moving in the other direction when it comes to our profession. All you need to do is read some of the latest discussions and debates in some of the state legislatures – there’s definitely rumblings if not an out-and-out movement in some states (and even within the insurance industry and medical profession etc.) to have trainers with a certain level of knowledge, education and experience in order to satisfy their licensure requirements or in the case of physicians for them to feel comfortable referring patients. Like it or not, I think that our industry is actually going to be forced to move away from strictly online certifications in the future.
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.