August 22, 2023
If you’ve got an enthusiasm for health and fitness, and you love helping others, then becoming a personal trainer may well stand out as a career option for you. But there’s far more to it than putting your kit on and encouraging your clients to push themselves on – and that’s why you need to get qualified, ideally from one of the best personal trainer courses around.
In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at the best personal trainer courses around and the options available to you. We’ll cover the importance of the level 3 personal trainer courses accredited by CIMSPA, the alternative options for getting yourself qualified, and a selection of Britain’s leading personal trainer course providers.
There is no hard and fast legal requirement to be qualified in order to become a professional personal trainer. However, you’ll find it extremely difficult to progress your career to any meaningful level.
Gyms and other fitness businesses that want to hire full-time or part-time personal trainers will want to know that they’re hiring someone that’s up to the job. If you don’t already have extensive experience and references, then your list of qualifications will be the first thing on your CV that they’ll look at. Without much to show in that area, you’re unlikely to get a foot in the door.
The same principle applies if you want to work as a self-employed personal trainer. Clients spending their hard-earned money on a private or group training session will be looking for someone with the right credentials.
Courses and qualifications will continue to play an important role throughout your career. As you gain more experience, you can look at the best personal trainer courses which allow you to specialise your skills, and explore niche areas where you can differentiate your business model and earn more revenue.
The baseline of personal trainer qualifications is the level 3 personal trainer course, accredited by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity. Because you’ll have to work your way through levels 1 and 2 before you can achieve level 3, by the time you get to the end of the process you’ll have all the key skills and knowledge you’ll need to operate professionally.
The level 3 personal trainer course normally covers seven key areas: biology, nutrition, healthcare, communication, planning, administration and self-improvement. That way, you’ll not only learn how to deliver sessions, but also cover important functions from a business perspective. You can find out more on the CIMSPA level 3 personal trainer courses in our guide.
While the level 3 personal trainer course is very important, it is by no means the be-all and end-all. For example, you can then go on to take level 4 qualifications in different specific skills, such as strength & conditioning, nutrition or yoga. But this is only part of the story.
Other course types you can explore include (but are by no means limited to):
Continuous Professional Development (CPD): while this isn’t a specific qualification, it is a process which allows you to keep developing and improving your knowledge throughout your career. If you’re working for someone full-time, you should explore any CPD programmes that they’re running, while you may find that some private course packages contain CPD opportunities, too.
Gym chain courses: many of the leading gym chains and businesses around the UK have their own corporate training and development programmes. You may well find that you gain some formally recognised qualifications along the way, especially if you’re starting out through an apprenticeship. However, you should remain aware that any of the chain-specific qualifications you gain here might not be valued as highly (or even be considered) by other companies if you’re looking for alternative employment in the future.
Online courses: the advance of the internet and the move towards flexible and hybrid working means that it’s far more viable these days to gain some personal trainer qualifications online. But if you decide to try an online course, check the requirements very carefully: it’s likely that you’ll still need to travel for in-person learning and assessments at some point, and you’ll need to make sure you can reach the location in question.
There are countless personal trainer courses all over the UK for you to explore, so it’d be impossible to list them all here! Instead, we’ve picked out some of the best personal trainer courses in the country, which should act as your first port of call if you want tuition and support of the highest quality:
Study Active takes a largely online-based approach to learning, but with all the mentoring and support that you’d expect of an in-person course. It combines a range of resources, webinars, tutorials and practical workshops, available on a flexible basis that allows you to fit your training alongside any work or family commitments you might have.
As well as personal training, Study Active can also help you learn gym instruction, nutrition, physical activity, lifestyle, mental health awareness and more. But one of the stand-out features of Study Active is that they’ll continue to give you advice in translating your qualifications into careers, and can even help connect you to available entry-level roles.
OriGym is arguably the biggest personal training course provider in the UK, tutoring the best part of 10,000 people every year. It offers an excellent blend of online and physical learning, thanks to a wide range of digital resources and a nationwide network of lecturers and trainers.
Everyone who works for OriGym is a qualified professional themselves, meaning you’re learning from people who have had to pick up the same expertise themselves along the way. And if you’re worried about the financial strain that your course represents, don’t panic: you’ll get free resits on both theory and practical exams if you need a second bite at the cherry.
If you want all or most of your personal training course to be delivered in person, then HFE is a good place to start. They can provide study and learning facilities at more than 30 locations all over the country, and their personal training courses are fully CIMSPA-approved.
You can augment your in-person training with access to digital resources if you so wish, while its CV Connect programme gives you a chance to get your foot in the door with prospective employers when you graduate.
AMAC Training is built on a friendly approach that understands the needs of those wanting to get personal training qualifications. They produce all their courses and learning resources themselves, and focus solely on personal training and gym instruction through a tuition team who have all picked up their own credentials. AMAC also offers financial support in the form of Advanced Learner Loans, backed by the Education & Skills Funding Agency, to make learning more accessible for everyone.
Future Fit is one of the longest-established and most respected providers of personal training courses in the country. They’ve been training people throughout the health and fitness industry for more than three decades, and are able to provide personal training and gym instructor courses up to Level 4.
If you want to branch out and specialise your skills, then they could well be the provider for you. They offer a large number of advanced courses, including sports massage, pilates, strength & conditioning, and much more. And with both hybrid learning options and flexible payment available, the training can very much work the way you work.
Whether you’re starting out working full-time as a personal trainer, or decide to go down the self-employed route, you’ll quickly learn that the unexpected can and will happen.
This is where Protectivity’s personal trainer insurance can help you. Our comprehensive policies make sure that if you’re hit by unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, you don’t end up out of pocket. A combination of personal liability, public liability, equipment cover and more can give you the confidence to grow your business, while you can also get the legally-required employer’s insurance if you go on to hire your own staff.
Our personal trainer insurance can give you confidence you’re covered for just a few pounds a month, so take some time today to explore your options in more detail.