As a Personal Trainer and PT recruiter I’m often asked which personal training course I would recommend. With so many providers out there to choose from the answer wasn’t always as straight forward as it could be. Until now!

Let’s look at what is involved in choosing a personal training course.

  • Cost
  • Payment options
  • Content
  • Learning styles
  • Time till completion
  • Location

Cost of Your Personal Training Course

I came into the fitness industry wanting to help people, rather than make a fortune. That’s not to say you can’t make a fortune, if you do it right. With limited savings behind me and the average personal training diploma costing £2,000 to £3,500, cost becomes a major consideration. But definitely not the main one!

Payment Options for Your Personal Training Course

Recently, the options for payment for personal training courses has been widened and varied with the inclusion of government funding and learning loans.

Before taking on one of these loans its worth reviewing how much you will pay back in the long run. While you don’t start paying back until you reach certain earning levels, you do want to reach them! The goal isn’t to stay poor and then give up.
Many courses will allow you to pay instalments. For me, this is a better option if you have some funds put aside and you are still earning. Not only do you pay less interest, but you commit yourself more to the whole learning experience.

For those with good savings and/or rich parents funding the whole project up front is also a great option. With a single payment you may find a significant discount is available. As with instalments, you are again committing yourself to the process of learning.

Personal Training Course Content

When I went through the process of choosing a personal training course provider this was key for me. However things have changed a lot!

REPs the Register of Exercise Professionals now dictate the content of most course providers now through a number of examining bodies, such as active IQ and YMCA. These then come under the NVQ levels of REPs Level 2, REPs Level 3, REPs Level 4.

REPs Level 2

This is what I would have described as entry level 4 to 5 years ago. Now I can only describe it as a prerequisite for doing your Reps Level 3.

This is because for the most part the fitness instructor model previously used by many large chains is dead and gone. With the outbreak of the budget and 24hr gyms REPs Level 3 personal trainers are used to man the floor in lieu of a portion of the gym rent. That said the government are reviewing the legality of this process, so things may change.

REPs Level 3

This is the new entry point. If you want to survive in the fitness industry this is the minimum qualification you need to personal train. This isn’t quite true, as you can still train people legally with no qualifications in fitness at all. To work from any of the large players, The Gym; Pure Gym; David Lloyds; Any Time Fitness and others you need REPs Level 3.

REPs Level 4

Currently the highest level REPs recognise. I would suggest having a good idea of what and who you want to specialise in. The last thing you want or need is a large client base of people you don’t enjoy training.

Most level 4 courses require a certification in GP referral as a prerequisite, with Strength & Conditioning being the notable exception.

Learning Styles

What do I mean by this? People learn in different ways some prefer reading, some watching and others listening. Doing a combination of these has worked best for me.
If you can learn from the first two then reading and/or watching videos through distance learning is a great option. There are a few ‘musts’ with this style though:

  • Set yourself deadlines – When you don’t have to turn up somewhere for a course it’s easy to put things off.

“Never put your priorities at the mercy of less important things. Put 1st things 1st!”

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Prep your learning area – Avoid distractions while you learn. Having a young family around you while you try to read or watch an online tutorial video is just asking for trouble. Find somewhere you won’t be disturbed or be asked to do menial tasks while you learn. I often went to Costa Coffee and made use of the free wifi there, with my headphones on no one ever disturbed me. Not to mention enjoying my favourite cappuccino!

How Long will Your Personal Training Course Take to Complete

The things to take into account here are:

  1. How long till you need to be earning – There are plenty of short personal training courses around right now. If you can commit the time you can be qualified in just 5-6 weeks, into a gym and earning.
  2. How much you’ll really learn – If you have been a gym bunny for two three years plus, maybe had a personal trainer yourself and have a really good knowledge of how the body works; exercise technique and nutrition, then six week to get the certificate and tick that box is fine. However, if you are new to the gyms, like many runners are, spending a few extra weeks really learning the information to use it rather than just passing a test would be prudent.

Location of Your Personal Training Course

If you are not doing a distance learning course, you have two options here:

  1. A local provider – Many colleges run REPs Level 2 & 3 courses that run for 6 months to a year. For short courses training rooms and premier both have satellite sites (normally in a large gym) dotted around the country.
  2. Go residential – I did my first course as a residential with premier over 20 years ago, and it’s a great way to learn as you are surrounded by likeminded people all learning the same stuff. Unfortunately premier no longer do the residential programme to my knowledge. If you do go for residential expect to pay a little more and keep in mind you will need extra for food and board, and the odd beer, or five.


Does the training company provide a guarantee?

There are a couple of companies that will guarantee you an interview. Which is great, but this doesn’t guarantee you the job.

To my knowledge there is only one training provider (at the time of writing this) who are willing to give a money back guarantee to your success as a personal trainer, once you complete your study with them.

If you want to know more about this company comment below and I’ll be happy to tell you about them and pass on your details.