Kelsey Graham
Office: ES 203-J


Personal Trainer Certificate Program

Personal trainer certificate program

Check out our feature in SD Voyager Magazine!

About the program

Students in this program are trained to be personal trainers and group exercise leaders. Students learn the principles of exercise and physical conditioning, techniques of conducting exercise classes and training sessions, appropriate methods of establishing healthy behavior and the designing of personalized exercise prescriptions. Students develop safe, effective exercise plans for a variety of clients.

This program gives students hands on application that cannot be obtained from reading a book and sitting for an exam. Students leave the program feeling confident and equipped to step into the fitness industry and be successful.

Review answers to frequently asked questions here

Please note that students enrolled in an occupational program must earn a grade of “C” or better in courses required for the major.


Job opportunities

The Personal Trainer certificate program trains students for positions, entry-level or higher, in the growing fitness industry.

Graduates are qualified to be personal trainers, exercise testing technicians, fitness instructors, strength training instructors and worksite wellness specialists.

The fitness industry continues to experience growth, with a 13% expected increase in employment between 2012-2022, and has an ongoing need for trained professionals in health clubs, fitness centers, sports medicine clinics and corporate wellness organizations.

Required Courses


  • EXSC 280 Applied Exercise Physiology (2 units)
  • EXSC 281 Applied Kinesiology (2 units)
  • EXSC 284 Fitness and Sports Nutrition (2 units)
  • EXSC 283 Exercise and Fitness Assessment (2 units)


  • EXSC 242B Care and Prevention of Injuries (3 units)*
  • EXSC 285 Exercise for Special Populations (2 units)
  • EXSC 282 Techniques of Weight Training (2 units)
  • EXSC 286 Techniques of Exercise Leadership (2 units)
  • EXSC 288 Fitness Specialist Internship Lecture (1 unit)
  • EXSC 270 Personal Trainer Internship/Work Experience (1-4 units)*


What students are saying

The Personal Training Program has left an enormous impact in my life in the greatest way! Being 55 and going from computer programming to stay-at-home mom to now the fitness industry, I have realized that everything is possible when we put our heart into it, which has  become my motto!The way in which the academic material in this program was presented to us, and the resources for studying were so generously offered in person and online (lectures, videos, office hours, comments on assignments, Mesa's super well equipped gym, interactions with classmates...) that I couldn't have asked for anything better. The whole Canvas page is a real fitness encyclopedia! The amount of knowledge this program offers is through the roof! Studying kinesiology, physiology, nutrition, weight training, injuries, exercise leadership, fitness assessment, or fitness for a special population was such an informative and enlightening experience; everything was based on scientific literature, which is so valuable in the fitness industry! Best of all, this fitness knowledge was taught from the hearts of the most extraordinary professors and guest speakers! Listening to the stories of the successful people in the fitness industry in the Personal Training Preparation class was so inspiring! Every story is so special and full of powerful advice for us fitness enthusiasts who are about to begin our careers. One of the best parts is the internship we get to do, so that we can have real life experience in this industry! The Personal Training Program is truly the golden key for the magic realm of passion and expertise in this field; this program opens up the door for us to share this knowledge and love for fitness with others, just like our phenomenal professors did for us.I am especially grateful to Professor Kelsey for creating and genuinely giving her all into this one-of-a-kind fitness experience! I feel so full of potential after completing this program, and I'm so excited for what's to come!

For those of you who want to increase your understanding of fitness, health, and wellbeing, and share it with others, and/or to achieve entrepreneurial skills in order to open your own personal training business, join this Personal Training Program! It's so beyond worth it!
- Aida I., personal trainer
If you’re looking for an outstanding personal training program, look no further than San Diego Mesa College’s Personal Training Program!! You’ll receive instruction from top-notch professors Kelsey Graham, Kate Hardy, and others. The majority of my instruction was with Kelsey and Kate and I honesty can’t rave enough about these two exceptional professors!!They are extremely knowledgeable about their fields, they practice what they teach, and they bring years of professional experience to the classroom.To top it off, they truly care about their students, which is evident in the level of support and encouragement they provide for every student! Kelsey and Kate go above and beyond their stations so you’re prepared to sit for the ACE Exam and/or excel in whatever field you’re pursuing. I truly can’t recommend this personal training program enough! So, if you’re debating whether or not to enroll in the year-long program, stop thinking and enroll now!
- Jennie L., personal trainer and yoga instructor

The Personal Trainer Program in San Diego Mesa College was one of the best decision that I could have made. I have been working out for nearly 18 years and during this time I have heard so much conflicting health and fitness advice from trainers. Honestly I never knew if what I was told to people I was helping was 100 % accurate. But at the same time I truly wanted to help people breakthrough their biggest obstacles.
Learning so much about the proven science behind everything was priceless. I left the Program feeling confident in the fact that I proudly could call myself an educated fitness trainer. I learned so much about in such a short amount of time. I felt like my brain was going to explode! But I left feeling that I retained all of the information. I feel like I have such a better understanding of the way human body works and why it works that way. I also feel like I have an incredible edge in business knowledge and I already apply it to achieve my future goals. I met so many great people with similar interests. I really can't emphasize enough how much I recommend Personal Trainer Certificate Program to anyone who values a quality education and is passionate about health and fitness!
Irina K., personal trainer

This program changed my life path for the better. I entered the program already trained as a Medical Assistant (MA), and 2-3x older than most of the my fellows. All levels and ages of folks worked together with mutual respect. My knowledge about the true causes of health increased 100-fold, and how to teach others. I may continue on and become a health coach. I will continue my own fitness journey long after I retire as an MA, I will to continue to learn and share what I’ve learned. I dream of being personal trainer to an ex-pat community in the tropics some day.
- Jim D.

All of my clients have benefitted from my involvement in this program, whether it be strategies for progression, exercise programming, exercise cueing, addressing behavior changes or being able to explain the rationale in my exercise selection. After feeling like I had been in the wilderness trying to stumble my way through learning effective strategies for improving client outcomes and never quite knowing if I am hitting the mark, I feel that I am better equipped to navigate a wider population of clients and their goals. I feel validated in the strategies I already utilized and learned ways to optimize and improve their efficacy. I have learned how to better help people implement change in their lives and help them achieve their goals. I feel confident and ready to move forward to the next step in my career as a fitness professional and I would not have gotten to this place without this program.
- David. R., personal trainer and gym owner

Before this program , I would be afraid of going to the gym because I didn’t want to look like those people that didn’t know what they were doing .  The only information about working out and exercising I knew was either from word to mouth or YouTube videos. And for me, I’m a visual learner , so if I just stayed at home and read from a book , I’d have a difficult time understanding . This program changed everything for me . It changed how I viewed fitness and I learned how to properly train my body. Most importantly , I learned how to teach others proper form and technique . Not only were the classes informational and engaging , but I also made plenty of friends from the classes . We would do class hiking trips and have gym sessions together . This program really influenced the way I live my daily life!
- Johnray C.

The Personal Training Certificate Program at San Diego Mesa College has been giving me more than what I have ever expected. I always have had the desire to become  a Personal Trainer but I wanted to know how the body worked and the real purpose of every exercise,  every movement and how to implement all of that. I love that I have been learning it all and also I have become more confident to help people to achieve their health goals ( not in a superficial manner) but on a safe and efficient way based on their needs and capabilities. The professors and the program have  inspired me so much that I now see many more academic possibilities in the future.

- Jessica S.

"The Fitness Specialist Certification Program at Mesa College was a wonderful, life changing experience for me. I learned an immeasurable amount from incredible and inspiring educators. I made great connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. I would recommend the Fitness Specialist Certification Program at Mesa College to anyone interested joining the fitness industry.

Getting to design and teach group fitness classes and train students one on one during the internship portion inside the gym was one of the biggest highlights for me, learning things hands on and growing through constructive criticism. I gained knowledge and confidence in a real fitness industry setting.

Thanks to everything I learned at Mesa I was able to pass the ACE Personal Trainer Certification test with flying colors. Armed with the ACE certification along with my Fitness Specialist Certification I am ready and eager to join the fitness industry and start helping people reach their goals and get healthy." - Nicole G., personal trainer

"I started the Exercise Science program at Mesa College with the hopes of becoming a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.  It has enhanced my personal training confidence and overall knowledge of movement and exercise programming. 

Knowledgeable staff and caring instructors make all the difference when you're investing in a career and that is a huge part of what makes Mesa College special.  I would recommend the exercise science program at Mesa College to anyone looking to start, grow, improve or better  themselves as a Personal Trainer of Fitness  instructor."
- Louis A., personal trainer

"After 2 years enrolled in the personal training program at San Diego Mesa College, I can honestly say that this institution only offers the best to its student. The instructors are caring, flexible, understanding, and passionate towards their students. They are generally interested to keep a good relationship with their students. In addition, they all have a deep passion towards exercise science. Not only will you get the information needed to be a high-quality fitness professional, but will able to participate in supervised practice which is optimal for the personal training career.

The classes are strategized to keep the student engaged into the material. From listening to the interesting content, to applying the material into a fitness setting. For instance, the classrooms are set next to a fitness lab. This program also encourages one to pursue higher degrees and certifications. This is especially important given that the fitness industry is continually growing towards health clubs, fitness centers, and even sport medicine clinics. This program is ideal for both the full-time and part-time student. If you have a passion and interest towards personal training, San Diego Mesa College is the best option to quench that thirst."
- Emmanuel P.