The UK fitness industry is currently worth over £4.7 billion, with in excess of 6,700 sites and 97 million members, so now is certainly a good time to be looking to start a career as a Gym Instructor or Personal Trainer.
This guide aims to explore your options when choosing a Gym Instructor and/or Personal Trainer course provider. It will provide an overview of key considerations to look out for and give an overview so you can compare different personal trainer course options to help you select the best personal training course in the UK for you.
Please read on to find out more and If you ever have any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.
Want some FREE advice on getting started as a Personal Trainer? Or if would like more information about Personal Trainer courses, please fill out the below form. This advice and information comes directly from Study Active, a leading course provider in the UK.
Right, lets get cracking on kick-starting your career in personal training….
Step 1: Decide whether you want to become a Fitness Instructor or a Personal Trainer
There are many different routes to getting a career in the fitness industry. Many PT’s often choose to study Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer together as one big course whilst other may prefer to qualify as a Fitness Instructor first then training to become a qualified Personal Trainer further down the line. There are big differences between being qualified as a Fitness Instructor and a Personal Trainer. Here is a good summary of the top differences between the two professions below:
1. Fitness Instructor (Level 2 REPs Qualification)
- If you want to become qualified as a fitness instructor you will need a ‘Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym)’
- A level 2 qualification will provide entry onto the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) at level 2 – which is desirable to be employed as a fitness instructor
- A Fitness Instructor typically gives gym inductions, write basic programmes, and if competent, takes exercises classes.
2. Personal Trainer (Level 3 REPs Qualification)
- To become a fully qualified PT in the UK and start a career in Personal Training you will need a ‘Level 3 Qualification in Personal Training’
- This provides you entry onto the REPs at a Level 3 Standard
- A Personal Trainer writes advanced training programmes for clients, delivers advanced training techniques on a one to one basis and gives nutrition advice (based on established guidelines).
Tips when picking a PT course
- It is a popular option to combine level 2 and level 3 together into one big course – this can be better value and much more time efficient than doing them separately.
- Whilst contents of Personal Trainer qualifications are largely universal across different providers, there are differences in how these courses are offered, what’s included as “extras” in the package and of course how much it costs. Please see the grid below for a comparison of some of the UK’s leading Personal Trainer course providers. (All of the below are based on a L2 Gym and L3 PT combined package)
Step 2. Go tailor-made. Picking a Personal Trainer course which is the best one for YOU
Personal Trainer Course Comparison Chart (best view on PC). This is based on L2 Gym & L3 PT combined courses.
(Information is correct at time of publication and may be subject to change)
To decide what is the best personal training course for you, you will need to know about the factors you need to consider when picking a personal training course.
1. 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.
Others offer a blended approach where some learning is done online and some learning is in the classroom/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.
On option that we have deliberately not mentioned here is 100% online courses or online only courses. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) have made it clear that they will not accept courses that are completed 100% online as there needs to be a minimum of a practical workshop and face to face assessment per course. (This is as per guidance on the REPs website)
In some circumstances there may however be some scope to study online, this could be for example if you are a Sport Science Graduate, an existing Exercise Professional or if you already work in a gym, but this will be dependant on demonstrating competence and ongoing industry experience. Please contact us for details of this approach.
2. Location of the course: In light of modern day technologies such as online learning and skype many operators operate nationwide but you will still need to factor in travel to their centre for 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!
3. 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.
4. Endorsement: Look for a PT course whose award is a proper qualification recognised by Ofqual. Such awarding organisation include Active IQ, YMCA and VTCT but this is not an exhaustive list. It is also important that any PT qualification is recognised by both the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity (CIMSPA). Any course not recognised by REPs and CIMSPA is not going to be recognised.
CIMSPA have recently started to inspect course providers to ensure quality standards are met. They also regularly publish “post-inspection” articles on its providers to showcase positive inspection experiences. An example of such of such an article can be found here.
5. Course price: There is obviously a huge variation in prices. You can usually expect to pay around £1-3k, depending on the provider you choose. Just because a course is more expensive doesn’t mean its better and likewise if a course is more cost effective it does not mean that its inferior. Its about getting the best value for money from the course you want. There is little point choosing a course purely on price, its about getting the right course at the right price. Look at the best deals and offers for the type of course that is right for you.
6. Course bundles: Some providers may give you a CPD (continued professional development) courses in addition to the Gym & PT qualification.
For example, to become a gym instructor you need a level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing, whereas additional areas, not traditionally included within the qualification, such as Kettlebells and Suspension Training may be learned via CPD units.
CPD is not the same as qualifications, 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.
7. Nutrition: It is worthy of noting that all current CIMSPA recognised Level 3 PT courses automatically include a module in Nutrition which once completed enables the dissemination of nutrition advice based on established government guidelines. Therefore to provide clients with established nutritional advice there is no need for a separate Level 3 Nutrition course to be studied, as the PT qualification itself should cover this.
8. 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.
Financing options for your personal training course
Is it possible to finance a Personal Training Course?
- Not many people can afford this upfront so fortunately there is a number of ways to finance your course via interest free instalments.
Are there any government-funded schemes that could save me money on PT courses?
- Yes there are! The government has introduced a number of schemes which help those who can’t afford the upfront costs of enrolling on a personal training course.
Below are the available government-backed financing schemes for personal training courses.
- 19+ Advanced Learning Loan (previously called a 24+ loan)
- ELCAS – a government-led scheme to promote learning for members of the UK armed forces.
What are some of the best personal training courses in the UK?
Below are some of the UK’s leading PT course providers. To see an in-depth guide to these PT course providers, click-through to any of these Course Providers below:
- Study Active Exclusive 5% discount for WPTC readers with discount code WPTC5
- AMAC Training
- European Institute of Fitness
- Focus Training
- Future Fit
- Lifetime Training
- The Training Room
- YMCA Fit
If you have any questions about choosing a course provider or want to ask which is the best fitted for you, drop us an email and we will help you out the best we can.
Step 3. Get onto your course, learn and pass the exam!