In-Home Learning

In-home learning is basically any continuing education that takes place on your own. This may include home-study courses, books, magazines, journals, videos, and DVDs. Benefits of in-home learning are that it is less expensive than attending a seminar, and you can take your time reviewing the materials until you feel you understand it. Home-study materials also make great references when you need to look up information for a client or a program.

Home-Study Courses

There are two types of home-study courses: correspondence courses and online courses. They are similar in content, but the style is slightly different. An online course is done completely on the computer, whereas with a correspondence course you may be sent one or all of the following: textbooks, videos, or CD-ROMs. Once you learn the information, you will take an exam either online or by mail, and upon passing will receive a certificate verifying completion of the course. Occasionally, you will have the benefit of an instructor, but this is not common. Overall, for people who are self-motivated, home-study courses are a convenient way to obtain CEUs. You can work on them at your leisure, though they will sometimes need to be completed within a certain time frame. They also tend to be cheaper than seminars and do not involve travel.

Professional Publications

Many organizations publish magazines and journals at little or no cost to their members. These publications allow readers to keep up with the latest research and trends, see new products, and maintain a sense of the industry as a whole. Most of the certifying agencies have their own publications and include them in the cost of membership.

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If your certifying association offers a journal, it may contain quizzes you can submit for CEUs. There are usually between ten and twenty questions pertaining to a specified article that you can answer and submit online or by mail. The fees for these quizzes are nominal, making them a great way to increase your CEUs.

Trade journals such as Personal Fitness Professional and Club Solutions Magazine will keep you abreast of new information disseminated through the industry. You can use this information to share with clients, get new ideas on running your business, and to help you think outside of the box. The success stories shared in these publications can be an inspiration to any trainer who dreams of doing great things. Human nature causes people to get stuck in mental ruts, and this constant stream of new ideas can help avoid this pitfall.

Books, Videos, and CD-ROMs

Books, videos, and CD-ROMs offer the opportunity to learn new techniques, strengthen your weaker areas, and focus on a specialty. Their costs are relatively low compared to workshops and home-study courses, and they can be much more specialized and specific.

For example, if you feel weak in the area of human anatomy and physiology, you may not be able to afford a college course or a workshop. Or maybe you simply do not have the time. Instead, you could purchase a book and interactive CD-ROM. If you wish to learn more about a specific topic, such as how to use an agility ladder, you can purchase a DVD on this specific topic instead of having to attend a seminar that includes all types of other information.

While you cannot obtain CEUs by reading books or watching videos, they are a great way to improve yourself and your business. Personal trainers who take advantage of these resources will have better success keeping their programs safe, fresh, and exciting.

Drawbacks to In-Home Learning

Because you are learning at home, you do not have the benefit of an instructor who can answer questions. Correspondence courses are sometimes the exception. This may not be an issue if the course is fairly straightforward, but if you are truly struggling, you will have to seek help elsewhere. You may be able to find another trainer who can assist you, but this begins to negate the convenience factor.

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Because you do not receive hands-on, practical experience, there will be some instances where you may need to supplement your in-home learning with workshops. For topics such as nutrition, basic anatomy, or business, this is not an issue. However, learning new exercises or techniques with only the guidance of a book or video can be a challenge.

Many times, companies offering home-study courses will send you a course catalog with information detailing what you will learn from what they offer. They may sound quite enticing on paper, and you may feel tempted to order multiple courses. Keep in mind, however, that while you may have the best intentions of completing the courses you order, you may not finish them. When you are not required to do the work at a certain time, you will be more likely to procrastinate. When you attend a workshop, you have to be there at a predesignated time, so getting there is half of the battle. It is easier for life to get in the way of your in-home learning. Cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or your favorite television show may end up taking precedence over your professional development.

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