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And read our expert advice on qualifying as a Personal Trainer
And read our expert advice on qualifying as a Personal Trainer
There are many providers offering such Personal Trainer courses in the UK and lots things to consider when choosing the best Personal Trainer course for you, including:
* What is CIMSPA
* How can I check who is a CIMSPA provider?
* What is an awarding body?
* Do I need Level 3 or Level 4?
* What about GP Referral?
* Do I need an extra nutrition course?
* Is a more expensive course better or just dearer?
* Are all the "deals" that I see online all for real?
Please read on to explore these and more.
What is CIMSPA and how can I find a CIMSPA provider?
CIMSPA are the main professional regulatory body for the fitness sector. A CIMSPA accredited qualification from a CIMSPA endorsed training provider is the most important thing to consider when choosing a Personal Trainer course.
The most important Initial check is - that you need to make sure that the actual provider you choose is a CIMSPA Training Provider Partner. A significant amount of Gyms and Leisure Facilities in the UK will only procure from CIMSPA approved training providers so it is very important to choose wisely. Warning: There are providers out there who may illegitimately claim to be CIMSPA approved training providers and may even illegitimately display the CIMSPA logo on their website - despite not being a CIMSPA approved training provider – so any provider needs double checking.
How can I check who is a legit provider?
There is a very easy way to check if a provider is a genuine CIMSPA approved training provider. Simply click here and you can access the CIMSPA directory of providers (make sure you search "Partners" not "Members" when looking at providers). Simply type the name of the provider on here and if they are listed then they are approved or if they are not listed then they are simply not a CIMSPA approved provider!
TIP: Make sure that the provider is definitely a CIMSPA Training Provider Partner - if they are just a CIMSPA Employer Partner this is not the same thing nor is if they are merely associated with a CIMSPA partner.
The first part of this guide was the all important checks regarding CIMSPA compliance (scroll back up if you missed this!) Now that you have done this, its time to look at some finer details about choosing the best personal trainer course for you.
What is an Awarding Body?
Awarding bodies will essentially work with the training provider to award the qualification, so they are in some ways like an exam board. Perhaps the two most recognised and reputable awarding bodies for the Fitness sector are Active IQ and YMCA Awards. (Please note that the following are not UK Awarding Bodies ACSM, NASM, ACE). Remember you will have the awarding body logo on your certificate so a reputable one is certainly wise to opt for. NOTE: There are instances when a minority of providers may choose to display the logo of Active IQ or YMCA on their site despite using a less renowned awarding body, so always double check what the awarding body will be.
Do I need Level 3 or level 4?
In a nutshell you need a Level 3 Personal Training Diploma - there is not necessarily the need to have a Level 4 - unless you want to. If you want to be a generic L4 PT you will need to do a course called Level 4 Advanced Personal Training - please always double check this as many providers will only offer qualifications such as Level 4 Diabetes or Level 4 Low Back Pain - which are only for those wishing to specialise in such areas - TIP: The headline message is that to start out as a PT you need a Level 3 Personal Training Diploma. Adding Level 4 PT is optional.
What about GP Referral?
If you plan to work with clients with medical conditions then you may wish to qualify in GP Referrals. Such qualifications go under the names Exercise Referral and Supporting Clients with Long-term Conditions (the latter being the newer version). Such a qualification will enable a exercise professional to work with clients with certain chronic conditions. Please note however this does not mean that a GP will be sending referrals through to a PT as this only happens between GP's and large gyms who hold a GP referral contract.
Do I need an extra nutrition course?
All CIMSPA L3 PT qualifications have L3 Nutrition automatically embedded, which enables the PT to give nutrition advice based on established government guidelines. It is an option that some Personal Trainers may wish to go on to study a Level 4 Nutrition course such as the RSPH Level4 in Nutrition. This may enable you to give more detailed and applied advice and to work with specific populations. Please note, according to the AfN whilst a L4 Nutrition graduate can give useful advice based on established guidelines, only a Dietician or Clinical Nutritionist can write meal plans.
Is a more expensive course better or just dearer?
Do not read massively into price as some providers charge to factor in sales commission or to balance out expensive advertising campaigns - paying more does not necessarily mean better. Instead look for value. Some provider simply offer more genuine and sensible prices than others. So instead of price look at things like CIMSPA status which is your quality kitemark and also drill down as to what is actually included and are there "hidden extras". NOTE: Attendance courses will usually be dearer than online/blended courses.
Are all the "deals" that I see online all for real?
Be careful as some providers may have a "limited time" 50% sale when all they may have really done is double their price and then put a 50% discount on this! Further, such "deals" may actually be on every day of the year, so never feel rushed! That being said there are deals to be had but try to see through "clever marketing" approach of some providers and you should never feel rushed into signing up. A good suggestion is to never feel pressured to sign up for a course over the phone - do your research first.
Content of Course: It is worth noting that all official CIMSPA recognised PT providers, who offer a properly accredited course, are all delivering a set syllabus, so the content on which the course is based are going the be the same across the board (they are all based on the CIMSPA Professional Standards), so it is not going to be a case of different providers having totally different content. TIP: If a provider is following the latest CIMSPA standards then there will be an mandatory Level 3 module in Business Skills included - asking if this is included is a good way to check that the provider is delivering the latest standards and not outdated standards (which will not be CIMSPA endorsed).
Gym Chains offering PT Courses
There are some well known national gym-chains that offer PT training courses. Whilst these may be familiar brands for gym users, a big consideration however is that the obvious aim of a PT Course offered by a gym chain is to get students/graduates into employment for that particular company. The courses will be geared up for working for that particular organisation which may be a different approach needed to that of the wider sector. If someone particularly only wanted to work for one given company then this may be a useful route but if someone wanted to keep their options open, be able to consider employment with many different gyms or wants to go self employed then they could find that a PT course offered by a Gym Chain is somewhat restrictive.
Format of the course: There are lots of types of courses, some offer lots of attendance days so most of the studying is done on site (generally these courses are more expensive).
Others offer a blended approach where some learning is done online and some learning is in the gym. The percentage of online study vs attendance varies for different blended learning providers. This percentage of learning methods does not mean there is any difference in quality, its more about what suits you as an individual. If you are new to fitness it may be that you look for more attendance. If you are already quite gym savvy you may look at less attendance days, especially if you are fitting your study around other commitments. Typically course costs are higher for courses with higher numbers of attendance days.
CPD: Some providers may give you CPD (continued professional development) courses in addition to the Gym & PT qualification. For example, areas such as Kettlebells and Suspension Training may be learned via CPD . CPD is not a qualification, they don’t usually have exams and can be completed quite quickly, however they are still really useful additions if these are included in your PT course package, so its worth checking out what CPD is on offer as part of any package - but do not base your decision on this alone as the main item of value is your actual PT course - not CPD!
Location of the course: In light of modern day technologies such as online learning, Zoom and Skype, many operators operate nationwide but you will still need to factor in travel to their centres for any workshops and assessments. It may not always be best to base your decision purely on location, its more important finding the course that suits you. An extra couple of hours traveling could pay dividends if the course is the one that you feel suits you the best! Also its worth noting how many times you will be required to come in as if its just a small number of times then distance may be less of an issue.
Contact time: Remember you are going to need support! No matter how the course is delivered there needs to be sufficient contact time built in. This should include lots of support via telephone, skype or in person. Whilst email support is useful, in addition to this there needs to be actual interaction with a tutor throughout, whether this is face to face or via telephone / skype. Always check this with a provider and look at reviews to see what support a provider gives. NOTE: Do not allow a provider to ask you to find your own mentor or to find someone qualified to shadow - teaching is the responsibility of the provider - providing professionals for you to learn from is the providers responsibility.
Tutors: Research who will be teaching you and whether they are worth your investment to learn. Always look at the staff profile page of the provider to see who will be teaching you and what experience and qualifications they have. Its also good if you actually get to speak with a tutor on the phone before enrolling rather than a sales person or administrator who would not be involved in teaching the course.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when choosing a Personal Trainer course. You may still be thinking "who is the leading provider?". There is no answer to this nor are there any official statistics relating to this. The truth is there are lots of "leading providers" out there in the UK, you just need to choose carefully to find the best PT course for you. Its obviously very important to see through what a provider may claim on their website and do your own research, hopefully using the guidance on this site.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to explore some examples of reputable CIMSPA approved personal trainer course providers in the UK. To help you further with your decision we have put together a table of some of the UK's leading Personal Training course providers - you can view this table below. We hope this helps you choose the best Personal Trainer course for you.
Perhaps one of the most important things to do is to check is what other students and graduates have thought of a provider. This can be done on the review site TrustPilot. Please click here to view TrustPilot (once here just search for the provider you are checking out). Tip: Do not just look at the providers TrustPilot score or good reviews, instead drill down by filtering to look at the bad reviews. Look for any pattern of negative feedback. Also check that any positive reviews are shown on TrustPilot as "verified" - this means they are verified by TrustPilot as being from genuine customer experiences - so for obvious reasons a modest number of positive "verified" reviews is always more useful than a higher number of reviews that are not showing as "verified".
This chart acts as a useful tool to making the best Personal Trainer course decision for you. With a quick comparison of the features and qualities, each PT course can be compared alongside similar other courses. (Chart is updated periodically - please check direct for latest prices)
Please note the providers listed are some examples of reputable personal trainer course providers who are all CIMSPA approved.
If you do have any questions, please contact us.