Cheap Online PT Courses vs. Expensive Ones: Unveiling the Real Value

March 12, 2024

The world of online personal training (OPT) certifications is booming, and with it comes a vast array of course options at varying price points.  But with significant cost differences, you might wonder: Are expensive online PT courses worth the extra investment, or can you get by with a cheaper option?  Let's delve into the factors that differentiate cheap and expensive online PT courses to help you make an informed decision.

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Content Depth and Breadth:

  1. Cheap Courses: These often focus on the foundational principles of exercise science and basic program design. They might provide templates for generic workouts but might lack in-depth coverage of specific exercise progressions, advanced training techniques, or catering to special populations.
  2. Expensive Courses: These typically offer a more comprehensive curriculum, delving deeper into exercise physiology, anatomy, and advanced coaching methodologies. They might also cover specialized areas like injury prevention, nutrition coaching principles, or training for specific populations (e.g., pre/postnatal fitness, corrective exercise).

Quality of Instruction and Support:

a woman taking online fitness classes
  1. Cheap Courses: The instructors might be newer to the field or lack extensive experience in online coaching. Limited interaction or support might be offered, leaving you with fewer resources to address specific questions or challenges.
  2. Expensive Courses: These often feature established trainers or educators with years of experience in personal training and online coaching. They might offer ongoing support through forums, Q&A sessions, or even personalized feedback options.

Production Value and Learning Experience:

a coach helping woman to lift dumbbell
  1. Cheap Courses: Production quality might be lower, with less engaging video lectures or outdated course materials. The learning experience might be more self-directed, with limited interaction or practical application opportunities.
  2. Expensive Courses: These typically feature high-quality video lectures, interactive elements, and downloadable resources. Some might even offer bonus materials like sample coaching templates or access to exclusive online communities for ongoing support and peer-to-peer learning.

Accreditation and Recognition:

coach with her client
  1. Cheap Courses: These might not be accredited by any recognized fitness organizations. While they might provide valuable knowledge, they might hold less weight when applying for jobs or building credibility with potential clients.
  2. Expensive Courses: These are often accredited by reputable fitness organizations like NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) or ACE (American Council on Exercise). This accreditation can enhance your resume and potentially open up more job opportunities or allow you to command higher rates as an online PT.

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Making the Right Choice: Value Beyond the Price Tag

a coach negotiating

While expensive courses often deliver a more comprehensive and enriching learning experience, the "best" option ultimately depends on your individual needs and goals:

  1. For Beginners on a Budget: A cheaper course can provide a solid foundation in fitness principles and program design. Supplement your learning with free resources, online tutorials, and practical experience through volunteer work or shadowing an established PT.
  2. For Serious Career Aspirations: If you aim for a well-rounded education and recognized credentials for a future career in online PT, consider investing in a more expensive, accredited course. The enhanced knowledge, support network, and industry recognition can provide a significant long-term return on your investment.


  1. Read Reviews and Course Outlines: Carefully research course content, instructor credentials, and accreditation before enrolling. Look for reviews from past students to gauge their learning experience.
  2. Consider Your Learning Style: Do you prefer interactive elements and ongoing support, or are you comfortable with a more self-directed learning approach?
  3. Long-Term Goals: Are you seeking basic knowledge for personal use, or do you have aspirations for a professional career in online PT?

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose an online PT course that delivers the real value you need to achieve your fitness and career goals.


1.  What are some free resources I can utilize to supplement my learning from a cheaper course?

The internet offers a wealth of free resources! Here are a few options:

  1. Reputable Fitness Websites: Organizations like the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) offer free articles, exercise tutorials, and educational resources.
  2. YouTube Channels: Numerous fitness professionals and online PTs share valuable workout routines, exercise technique breakdowns, and coaching tips for free on YouTube.
  3. Fitness Podcasts: Listen to podcasts hosted by fitness experts to gain insights into online coaching strategies, business development for personal trainers, and industry trends.

2.  How can I gain practical experience before investing in a course?

Consider volunteering at a local gym or community centre to work with clients under the supervision of a certified personal trainer. You can also shadow an established online PT to observe their coaching methods and online business practices firsthand.

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