Online programs in fitness education and instruction or related areas are available from several four-year universities and colleges. These programs usually lead to a certificate, bachelor's degree or master's degree. Schools offer distance learning programs in this field under various disciplines, such as physical education, kinesiology, exercise science and physical health.
Although each have their own unique points, they generally are designed to prepare students for the physical, mental, educational and safety issues involved in exercise, health and wellness instruction. Some programs are totally online, but it's fairly common for schools to require both campus-based and distance students to participate in practicums.
Program Options & Coursework
To be eligible for admission into an online undergraduate program in fitness education and instruction, students typically just need a high school diploma or GED. However, distance learning graduate programs have more comprehensive admission standards. Schools require applicants to master's programs to have a bachelor's degree, which may need to be in a related field. Work experience in physical education and recommendation letters are often considered as well.
The following list highlights what online students can expect to study in programs related to fitness.
Personal Trainer Certificate
Course materials for certificate programs are typically accessed online with standard hardware and high-speed Internet access; some schools may have specific software requirements. Examinations may include a combination of online and proctored testing. Proctored exams are sent to an approved proctor in the student's area and testing is scheduled at a mutually beneficial time. The following subjects may be studied:
- Muscle Mechanics
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Exercise and Older Adults
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Physical Activity and Health
Online bachelor's degree coursework is typically accessed via the Internet and completed according to the student's preferred schedule, although due dates usually apply. Program specializations in physical education and exercise science may be available. In addition to general education classes, mandatory coursework might include the following:
- Adapted Physical Activity
- Measurement and Evaluation in Physical Activity and Health
Master of Arts (M.A.) in Exercise Science, Physical Education and Wellness
Master's level degree programs, which usually take about two years to complete, are often geared towards current or aspiring teachers who wish to focus on a physical education or coaching career path. These 100% online programs are typically asynchronous; both course materials and interaction with the course facilitator are available online, as is testing. Students may be required to take the following classes:
- Health Promotion
- Technology in Physical Education
- Physiology of Exercise
Master's Degree in Kinesiology with Physical Education Degree
Individuals who aspire to careers as consummate fitness professionals will find this degree program valuable. The following online coursework may be required:
- Technology in Kinesiology
- Assessment in Physical Education
- Program Design in Physical Education
- Advanced Methods of Teaching Physical Education
Online certificate programs provide an academic foundation that qualifies students to work in several environments, including health clubs and customers' homes. Four-year degree programs prepare students to work in a variety of academic and professional health-focused settings. A distance learning degree program at the master's level is ideal for students interested in a teaching career that includes physical education and coaching.
There are both undergraduate and graduate fitness education programs offered online. Some are aimed at students who are interested in particular careers as personal trainers or coaches, while others offer a more general education in the field and can open the door to a wider range of job opportunities in the field.