How to Become a Personal Trainer on Vancouver Island, B.C.

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Becoming a personal trainer is a rewarding career, but a more demanding and complicated one than many people think. Because of the potential for an unskilled trainer to cause injury, or even death, personal trainers must have a surprising amount of training themselves and the certification process is lengthy. In British Columbia, certification of personal trainers is handled by the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA). It consists mainly of an alternating sequence of classes and exams to prove your mastery of particular areas of personal training.

  • Take a BCRPA-approved Fitness Theory course. This is a 30-hour course which is offered privately by a number of training schools around British Columbia. The Fitness Theory course covers mostly background material like anatomy and physiology, bio-mechanics and exercise technique.

  • Pass BCRPA's National Fitness Theory Examination. This test is a 60-question multiple choice test, and you're given an hour to complete it. The $65 test fee includes your first year of registration with BCRPA.

  • Take a BCRPA-approved Weight Training module. This is another course, offered privately by BCRPA-approved schools around the province. It focuses on the specifics of weight training, including program design, counseling, nutrition and exercise equipment.

  • Complete the practicum. The practicum is eight hours of actual teaching time conducted in a fitness facility. BCRPA offers a list of approved sites around the province where students can get this experience.

  • Pass the Weight Training Instructor Competency Evaluation. This is a more practical test that involves preparing a sample client file including goals assessment and program design. Once you've completed the package, you'll meet with an evaluator where you'll be required to display some practical skills. These include things like displaying proper exercise forms and calculating a body mass index.

  • Complete 20 hours of weight training instructor experience. Similar to the practicum, this is a chance to gain experience in actual weight training in a fitness center with the observation and support of other trainers.

  • Take a BCRPA-approved Personal Trainer course. Again, this is a privately offered course that covers areas like business and marketing aspects of personal training as well as screening and fitness assessment, motivation and ethics.

  • Pass the BCRPA Personal Training Exam. This is a 60 question exam that includes multiple choice and matching questions, plus a case study. You have three hours to complete it and the exam fee is $60.

  • Pass the Personal Training Instructor Competency Evaluation. Similar to the weight training ICE, this is a personal assessment in which you demonstrate skills to an evaluator. You'll select a hypothetical case study for a client and design a program to help them develop and meet goals while taking their personal situations into account.

  • Complete the Personal Trainer Practicum. Similar to previous practicums, this is an opportunity to develop work experience and refine your skills in the field.

  • Get First Aid and CPR certification. First aid certification is good for two years, while CPR certification must be renewed every year.

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