UK Fitness Instructor Qualifications for Personal Trainers

Many people consider making the move from fitness enthusiast to fitness instructor after they have spent a few years training to get fit. Often the best fitness instructors are people who have had a hard journal to fitness, and understand that for some people losing weight and getting in shape is a very difficult task to undertake.

However, just because someone has managed to get fit, it does not automatically mean that they are qualified to instruct others on fitness.

Being a fitness instructor also requires knowledge on sports nutrition, first aid, dealing with injuries, and to some extent physiotherapy, or at least an understanding of the human skeletal and muscular system.

How Much Can You Earn As A Personal Trainer?

For some people, personal training is a call – many coaches get into the professional simply because they love the work. But, many people see it as an opportunity to make money, so let’s first take a look at PT salaries in the UK. As you can see from the below (thanks to Lifetime Training for allowing us to use this), the big money is with celebrity training. Of course, this is just a dream for many fitness instructors.

Many people start out in commercial gyms where they can earn in the region of £20,000 a year and up to £31,000 a year, when fully qualified. Some gyms offer apprenticeships, which obviously have lower salaries but training is provided.

Once fully trained, you can expect to earn up to £66,000 a year as a freelancer. However, as a self employed trainer, you will need to work hard at your marketing to get a solid client base.

While celebrity trainers get the big bucks, you can boost your pay by gaining skills that are in demand. A PT who is also a nutritionist, or one that has some physio experience, can earn much more by working with weight loss clients and sports injury rehab, for instance.

There are other options too, such as doing corporate work, supporting the police or armed services, or working with sports teams. However, many personal trainers do combine their work with another income. The great thing about being a fitness instructor is that most customers want you in the evening or at weekends, which means you can do a day job and then moonlight as a PT for some extra cash.

There are many routes to becoming a fitness instructor, and each country has different rules and regulations within the fitness industry.

In the UK there are several routes to becoming a fitness instructor. Here are some of the most common routes:

1. YMCA Personal Trainer Award

One of the most widely known and respected fitness qualification in the YMCA Personal Trainer Award. YMCAFit, formerly called YMCA Training and Development, started in 1984 with a Exercise to Music course. Since then YMCA Fit has trained over 67,000 fitness instructors. Upon successful completion of either the Gym Instructor or Exercise to Music programme, you will automatically become a member of REPS.

The YMCA Personal Trainer course includes the following modules: Gym Instructor, Circuit Training, Client Lifestyle and Fitness Assessment; Advanced Gym Instructor; Exercise Nutrition; Business and Marketing for the Fitness Professional and First Aid at Work.

Visit their website to learn more – YMCAfit.

2. Future Fit Training

Future Fit was founded in 1993 and has become a very well respected fitness instructor school, with a high success rate. Future Fit Training is now acknowledged by the whole industry as a leading provider of fitness professionals in the UK. The Future Fit curriculum covers all aspects of health and fitness, including nutrition, studio work, Pilates and weight training, as well as the standard fitness training. In 1997 Future Fit was the first Fitness Instructor School to teach the NVQ Level 2 in Exercise and Fitness. This qualification is now the bench-mark entry qualification for the fitness industry, and in 2005 Future Fit started to offer the new NVQ Level 3 in Exercise and Fitness, which is now the bench-mark qualification for advanced instructors in the industry.

Visit their website to learn more – Future Fit.

3. FIE Certified Personal Trainer

The Fitness Industry Education (FIE) Personal Trainer Course provides instructors with the qualifications required to assess clients’ needs, write fitness programmes and take them through a variety of different training sessions to help them achieve their goals.

All FIE courses are recognised by the Register Of Exercise Professionals (REPS), Central YMCA Qualifications and/or Active IQ. The FIE Personal Trainer Course is also recognised by the National Register of Personal Trainers.

Visit their website to learn more – Fitness Industry Education (FIE).

4. Premier Training Diploma

In 2001 the Premier’s Diploma in Personal Training was awarded Level 3 status on the government endorsed, Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). A wide range of fitness training certifications are available, such as Diploma in Personal Training and Sports Massage Therapy,
Certificate in Gym Instruction, Certificate in Personal Training, Nutritional Advice for Physical Activity, Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy, Master Diploma in Personal Training, and Exercise to music.

Premier Training also has a military resettlement program. It is on the list of Preferred Suppliers to the Career Transition Partnership for the provision of training to people leaving the armed forces. Premier Training also offer distance learning courses.

Visit their website to learn more – Premier Training.

5. Lifetime Health and Fitness

Lifetime Health and Fitness runs courses in Bristol, London, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, and also does distance learning. It is becoming one of the leading training organizations for fitness professionals in the UK. Its three main courses are:

Personal Trainer Qualification: Gain the skills and knowledge required to work as a Personal Trainer.

Fitness Instructor Qualification: Training courses for those wishing to work at fitness instructor level within a health or leisure club.

Exercise to Music Qualification: Gain the skills required to become an aerobics teacher.

If you are already working in the fitness industry, then Lifetime delivers work-based learning programmes, reducing training costs through the use of government funding.

Visit their website to learn more – Lifetime Health and Fitness.

The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)

These are by no means the only ways to become a fitness instructor, but these organizations are amongst the leading UK Fitness Instructor providers. In the UK a fitness instructor certificate must be recognised by The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). The Register uses a process of self-regulation that recognises industry-based qualifications, practical competency, and requires exercise professionals to work within a Code of Ethical Practice. Members of the Register are given a card and registration certificate to prove their qualification and membership. Also known as the Exercise Register it operates in the UK and across the world to recognise personal achievement and competencies of qualified exercise professionals.

REPs accredited Fitness Instructor courses are provided by independent providers throughout the UK. Training directories such as CoursesPlus and HotCourses list accredited Fitness Instructor training courses from national and local independent training providers, helping you find a course that is convenient to you.

Later we will look at other options, plus American qualifications, such as the ACE Personal Trainer Certificate (American Council on Exercise).

Remember that other routes into the fitness industry can include martial arts instructions (generally 3-4 years training to attain an instructors certificate).