Gyms are full of people grinding away at the machines but not seeing the results they want. What these people need is a personal trainer to work out a personalised fitness plan for them and then to crack the whip to make sure they actually follow through with it.
Many gyms these days offer personal training sessions such as Fitness First, Gymmboxx, Gold’s Gym and True Fitness. You’ll find personal trainers offering their services at ActiveSG gyms across the island too.
The pandemic has caused many of us to lose sight of our fitness goals and melt into our couches as we work from home. So if you’re looking for a career switch or a new side hustle with flexible hours, becoming a personal trainer might be a good idea. You can earn money (average monthly salary of $3,000 and up, depending on experience and other factors) as you get fitter. At the same time, you’ll learn how to market a business and sharpen your social and networking skills, which you’ll need to get clients.
Personal training qualifications in Singapore
First, you will need to successfully obtain some form of personal training certification. There are a number of certifications with a good reputation in Singapore being offered by a variety of training centres.
Some well-known certifications include:
– American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
– American Council on Exercise (ACE)
– Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (FISAF)
– International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
– National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
– National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Also look out for the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accreditation. This board accredits personal trainer programmes to ensure they are of a certain standard. Many reputable certifications such as ACE are accredited by NCCA.
Other than your course fees, you should also factor in the cost of the exam. This varies depending on the accrediting body. For the ACE test, for instance, you’ll have to pay US$399 (about S$549) each time you attempt the exam. Always ask the training centre whether exam fees are included in the price.
Where to get qualified as a personal trainer
|Company||Duration||Cost||Funding/subsidy (if any)|
|NCSF Singapore||2-day workshop and test + online self study||$700 course and exam fees + $299 material fee (early bird pricing until 15 Oct 2020)||Use up to $700 SkillsFuture credit
NTUC members can claim up to 50% of unfunded fees (max $250)
$100 off for seniors aged 60 and above or companies sending employees for course
|PSB Academy||32 hours of face-to-face time over 4 days, 8 hours each day + 18 hours of online lessons||$1,605 course fees + $540 exam fee||No|
|Republic Polytechnic||3 years full-time||$2,986.50 per year (Singapore Citizen) for Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science||SkillsFuture eligible|
|International Sports Academy||48 hours over 3+ months (Guided Live)
29 hours over 4 months (Independent Online)
|$2,198.85 course and exam fees (Guided Live)
$1,500 course and exam fees (Independent Online)
|ACE||80-100 hours over 3-4 months||US$649 (S$893) course and exam fees||No|
|ISSA||10 to 12 weeks (maximum of 8 months)||US$799 (S$1,099) course and exam fees||No|
Despite its name, the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) is not a stat board, but an American non-profit corporation that comprises several organisations offering fitness certification.
Their NCCA-accredited Certified Personal Trainer course consists of online e-learning with videos and quizzes, as well as a practical workshop. You complete the course at your own pace, and then book practical workshop and theory exam dates held over two consecutive days.
You’ll also get to attend a bonus Personal Trainer Sales and Marketing Workshop which will teach you how to promote your services.
Cost: $700 course and exam fee + $299 material fee (early bird pricing until 15 Oct 2020)
PSB Academy is known for part-time diploma and degree courses. Here, they’ve partnered with the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to conduct an NCCA-certified Certified Personal Trainer Course. They use ACE’s reputable personal trainer syllabus to prepare students for certification.
You’ll need to commit 8 hours per day over 4 weekends. In addition, you’ll have to attend about 18 hours worth of online classes.
In September 2020, they’re having a promotion which waives the $107 application fee and also shaves $150 off your course fees.
Cost: $1,605 course fee + $540 exam fee
In collaboration with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, Republic Polytechnic conducts a full-time Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science that’s targeted at aspiring trainers, coaches and PE teachers. If you are serious about making personal training and sports coaching a career, it will give you a solid understanding of topics like exercise prescription and injury prevention.
This is a full-time diploma spanning three years, thus it’s a good option if you’ve just completed your A levels, O levels or (Higher) NITEC, and are considering personal training as a career.
For working adults who can’t commit to a full-time course, Republic Polytechnic also has a few part-time courses under its adult education banner, including a Part-Time Diploma in Sports (Coaching), Specialist or Part-Time Diploma in Sport Science and Wellness and a basic Sports Science Course, all of which can also be paid for using SkillsFuture credit.
Cost: $2,986.50 for Diploma in Sports and Exercise Science
International Sports Academy
The International Sports Academy (ISA) offers a Certified Personal Trainer Course that culminates in NCCA-accredited ACE certification. They’ve got two versions of the course — a guided live version and an independent online version, which is cheaper.
The live version includes 10 weeks of theory lessons, 3 practical sessions and 3 guided tutorials, while the online version offers access to 4 months’ worth of weekly recorded lectures and practical demonstrations, guided tutorials and fortnightly (virtual) consultations.
For both courses, you get a discount of $53.50 when you register with a friend. Register in a group of four and each person gets a discount of $107. All the more reason to convince your gym buddies to join with you.
Cost: $2,198.85 (Guided Live) / $1,500 (Independent Online) course and exam fees
The Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness (FISAF), which exists in over 40 countries, has a Singapore branch which conducts a Personal Trainer Certification Course.
There are three levels that they recommend you get through before attempting the certification test. Level 1 consists of a Core Course to teach novices the basics. At Level Two, you will select one or more electives, including modules for aerobic and group exercise instructors, fitness leaders and aqua instructors. Level 3 is the FISAF Personal Trainer Course proper.
There are currently no upcoming FISAF Personal Trainer Courses but they will release information before conducting the next one.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) certification is popular amongst fitness trainers in Singapore, and there are already many course providers offering the ACE Personal Trainer Study Program.
If you don’t feel like signing up with a local course provider, ACE themselves offer a 100% online course and study programme that you can undertake without stepping out of the house.You’ll receive your course pack in the mail and then study and take your certification exam online.
The basic package costs US$649 (S$893) + shipping fees.
They also have a Plus package for US$749 (S1,031) that includes an Exercise Science 101 supplemental course and study support.
For US$1,149 (S1,581), you get the Advantage package, which includes Exercise Science 101, study support, study groups and one-on-one support from an ACE Advantage Representative, who can provide you with tailored study plans, personalised tutoring and discounts.
Cost: US$649 (S$893) course and exam fees
International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) has a Singapore branch that conducts a Personal Trainer Certification Course which includes materials such as a comprehensive 759-page guide book that includes all the knowledge you need to become a reliable and capable trainer and audio lectures. You’ll also receive assistance via phone support, a business guide, free trainer website after your exam and continuing educational courses.
The course is conducted online and you can take up to 8 months to finish it, although most students complete it in 10 to 12 weeks, according to the ISSA. The course fees also include free CPR training, which is mandatory for aspiring certified fitness trainers.
Cost: US$799 (S$1,099) course and exam fees
FitnessSG does not actually run a training programme. Instead, it is a platform that’s been set up to serve fitness professionals. Personal trainers can add themselves to its directory of accredited fitness professionals, network with others in the industry and take courses to further their education.
Check out their course calendar to see what certification courses you can sign up for, as well as what courses you can enrol in after you get certified to boost your knowledge in certain areas. Past courses have included Greater Communication for Coaches and BulletProof the Lower Back.
What’s it like being a personal trainer?
Having a passion for fitness and being familiar with gym equipment and workouts are a must for any aspiring personal trainer. But having soft skills, being able to coach effectively and building rapport with your clients are just as important.
Clients are looking for someone who is not only competent, but who motivates them to return to the gym and makes them feel good at the end of a workout. If a client feels they do not click with you, they will just move on to another trainer. On the other hand, if you maintain a good relationship with your clients, referrals are common.
You’ll also have to be prepared to work odd hours or on weekends, as the average person does not work out during office hours. If you are employed by a gym, you might work rotating shifts which will have you coming in on weekends, early in the morning or late at night on certain days. If you’re a freelancer, your hours will be dictated by whenever your clients are free.
Do you have any anecdotes about personal training, either as a customer or as a trainer? Share them in the comments!