If you know me personally, you know how much I harp on the importance of all fitness trainers being CPR/AED certified. With that in mind, recently, I received this email from someone: “I'm studying for a personal training certification and I want to know if I can get my CPR cert online? This was something I had not been asked before. So, can you get an online CPR/AED certification? If yes, should you do it? While the answer seemed obvious to me, I want to address this in more detail here to help others who may also have been wondering whether or not this was a good option for them to do. Let's discuss this now. Also see my review of online personal trainer certs too.
Do Personal Trainers Need A CPR Cert?
Absolutely yes! I can't say this more strongly. Most fitness organizations (ACE, NSCA, NASM among others ) actually mandate that people have a valid CPR and AED cert before they let people take their personal trainer exams. In fact, many organizations will require people to show their the CPR/AED card on the day of the exam. If you don't have your CPR/AED cert with you, you won't be allowed to take the fitness certification exam.
In case you don't know, CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED stands for automated external defibrillator.
Those studying to be group fitness instructors also need a CPR/AED cert and likewise may also be asked to present it on test day. I think having a CPR/AED cert is even more important for group fitness instructors because they will be in charge of many people at once in their exercise classes—each person will have unique health issues and different fitness levels. This increases the odds of something bad occurring during exercise.
In addition to this, fitness centers, often require a CPR/AED cert before they hire staff. This is another good reason to get this done before you start applying for a job.
Why Do Trainers Need A CPR Certification?
I have personally seen people die in fitness centers. I have also known several personal trainers whose clients died while they were working with them. This fact alone should be a wake up call for why all personal trainers need a CPR/AED certification.
Yes, the risk of death during exercise is very low – but it does happen. And it happens more than you hear about. Anyone who tells you differently either doesn't know or has just been lucky they didn't experience it themselves.
Think about it, when is someone more likely to have a heart attack or stoke—watching TV or when they were working out? While a heart attack or stoke can occur at anytime, I believe it's more likely during exercise. look at it this way, if the person already has heart disease, they are more likely to go down, when they are working out and putting stress on their cardiovascular system. This is why ALL fitness trainers need a CPR /AED certification.
Can I Get An Online CPR Certification?
I do not recommend that people get an online CPR/ AED certification if this is the first time they are getting CPR/AED certified. That is because there are benefits to doing the hands-on class that will help people if they ever have to do CPR on someone.
You just don't get that “real life” hands-on feeling and information when you take a test on a computer in your home. For example, the test dummies you will use in class give you an idea of how hard to press on the chest of a person during CPR. You can't get that tactile information from a computer. Also, taking the actual class gives you hands-on practice using an AED. You won't get this taking an online CPR class.
For that person who has previously gone through the actual CPR/AED class several times and has not forgotten anything, I can see the benefits of online CPR classes as a time saver. For them, then taking an online class might make sense. That said, even people who have previously taken the class should not only rely on online CPR classes because even the best of us gets rusty eventually.
Are Online CPR/AED Certs Legitimate?
I think most companies that issue online CPR/AED certs are legitimate. Having taken a few of the tests myself to get a feel for them, I can tell you that the online tests can be sometimes difficult to pass. Don't assume that because it's online, means the test is easier or it's easier to cheat on. From the tests I have taken, I found them more difficult than the test given when I took an actual class.
That said, depending on where you might work, it's possible that some fitness centers might require you to take an actual CPR/AED class as opposed to an online version. Generally, they might not know, because the certification card you receive in the mail will probably say American Heart Association or something like that. Still, because there are several online companies out there issuing these certs, I can't guarantee this would be the case.
How To Get Certified In CPR And AED
It's not hard to take CPR/AED class. These classes all the time all over the world – including your area. For example, they are usually held at local places such as:
- Community colleges
- Jewish Community Centers (JCCs)
- Fire stations
People can also find a local CPR /AED class by going to the website of The American Heart Association and clicking on “CPR.” and then “find a course.”
Do I Need Both The CPR and AED Certs?
Yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to take two separate classes. Both CPR and AED certs are often combined in the same class. That way one class gets you both certs at the same time.
How Long Does A CPR/AED Class Last?
The class usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. People usually go through a lecture portion and after that the class is usually broken up into small groups to practice on the CPR dummies. That way everybody gets some hands on practice performing CPR and using the AED. Often after this a short test is given. While the test is not open book, the test is usually not hard. The test lasts under and hour usually. After you pass the test, the CPR/AED cert is usually valid for between 1-2 years.
What About Online First Aid Certs?
It's been my experience that most gyms don't ask for a First Aid certification. That doesn't mean I'm saying don't do get it. If you have the opportunity to take a First Aid class, it can only help you. Think of it this way, if the job you want is between you and another persona, and you have a First Aid cert in addition to all your other certs, I think you have a better chance of landing the job. There are online First Aid courses, but I still feel taking an actual class is a better way to go especially if this is the first time you are getting the cert.
Should You Get An Online Cert?
I want you to succeed as a personal trainer -and be able to help others to the best of your abilities if the need ever arises. That is why I will always recommend taking an actual CPR/AED class first. It will not only help you personally, it's in the best interest of the people you will be working with as a personal trainer. If, after you take the class several times, you want to take an online CPR/AED cert, to save time, then that's fine, provided you don't do it so often that your hands-on skills start to deteriorate.
For those who think I'm being overly harsh about trying to get you to take an actual class first, put yourself in the shoes of your clients for a moment; how would they feel about you if they learned you only got CPR/AED certified from a computer test? I don't think they would like that, do you?
Also see my review of what to do during an emergency in the gym.