Hello, and welcome to PT Pioneer, your one-stop shop for everything related to the fitness profession.

Usually, I share reviews and career guides based on the US fitness industry, but this time, we’re taking a trip across the pond to the UK.

I also highly recommend that you take the quiz and find out which personal trainer certification in the UK is best for your career goals.

What personal trainer certification in the UK is right for you?

We developed this critical quiz to help you find the best certification for you and your goals.

It will guide you to the best certification option possible for you.

I’ll be looking at the Best Personal Trainer Certification In The UK and giving you insight on which to check for.

I’ll cover topics such as:

  • Accreditation
  • Cost
  • Study materials
  • Population and recognition

And with that said, let’s get right to it.

Best Personal Trainer Certification in UK

Understanding The UK Fitness Scene

The UK has one of the most vibrant fitness scenes and one of the world’s most profitable health and fitness industries.

To be a successful professional in the UK, you need to understand the intricacies of the UK fitness market and how to conduct yourself.

The first thing you would need to do is to get certified, of course.

As with any profession, your immediate action before functioning, or even being authorized to function, is to get your credentials.

That’s the whole point of this article, bringing you up to speed with getting certified as a personal trainer in the UK.

Unlike working in the US, personal training in the UK takes a different approach regarding qualifications and credentials.

The UK has a government-standardized qualification system for health and fitness professionals.

This differs from the American approach, where private entities, some for-profit, and others non-profit, formulate and engineer their educational programs and then get them approved by a central accrediting commission.

The more homogenous approach taken by the UK’s fitness community means that there is a consistent standard of skills and knowledge held by fitness professionals across the country.

The only difference you may encounter in the UK fitness credentialling is that different private companies will administer standardized government courses.

When I go through the best fitness certifications in the UK, I will go through the companies that offer government-standardized fitness courses.

How UK Fitness Credentials Work

As I mentioned, UK personal training courses follow a standardized system. 

That means every licensed fitness professional has the same learning and practical experience.

This standardization for instructor courses is set and governed by Ofqual, a UK government body in charge of structuring and approving vocational courses.

This helps create a consistent level of high quality that can be monitored, maintained, and modified uniformly.

The credentials in the UK fitness community are modeled based on three levels. Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3.

Let’s take a look at each of these

Level 1

The level 1 fitness course is often overlooked and ill-regarded as a part of the health and fitness credentials suite.

That’s because it offers such a rudimentary introduction to fitness and exercise principles and exercise instruction that it’s almost unnecessary if you want to take a serious approach.

Some may consider it a prerequisite to the subsequent levels, but it isn’t necessary even then.

What Level 1 can help with is people who are completely oblivious to fitness and exercise science but have assumed a desire to enter professional fitness.

Most people who’ve decided to be personal trainers or fitness instructors will have adopted knowledge and know-how that exceeds what a Level 1 course can teach them.

Level 2

Level 2 begins regarding personal training qualification for a career as a fitness instructor in the UK.

With level 2, you gain practical insight into exercise instruction, anatomy and exercise physiology, and some interpersonal skills required when working with people.

Level 2 is a great entry point if you’re looking at group fitness and instructing gym classes with set programs in place.

It is, however, limited in terms of what you can achieve and how you’re allowed to practice.

Level 2 doesn’t provide the full repertoire of tools and skills required to work with clients one-on-one.

Level 2 allows you to work as a part-time or full-time gym instructor in health clubs, not a personal trainer.

You must complete a Level 3 course to get to that point.

But to gain access to the Level 3 program, Level 2 is a prerequisite.

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Level 3

Level 3 is considered the final frontier in UK personal trainer qualifications. 

This is where you’ll want to be if you hope to work as a certified personal trainer with one-on-one clients.

Level 3 goes into all the fundamentals of exercise physiology, anatomy, and principles of exercise instruction in further detail while bringing on board principles of nutrition and expanding on exercise programming and instruction protocols.

Level 3 courses also touch on business acumen and professional development.

Level 3 is the goal if you want to have a serious career in exercise instruction.

The course is more intensive and rigorous both because of the complex subject matter contained in the curriculum and because it’s a necessary barrier to entry for the sake of quality.

Once Level 3 is qualified, you will be considered a licensed fitness professional and can begin conducting one-on-one sessions.

Level 3, however, is just your gateway, as you will need to specialize in different health and fitness categories to forge a unique and individual career.

Level 4

Level 4 is the highest standardized qualification for fitness professionals in the UK.

It is considered the equivalent of higher education certification, which you would get from a college or university.

Level 4 is where you’ll have the opportunity to specialize in a preferred niche or group of niches, allowing you to hone in on your preferred scope of practice.

You may want to specialize in nutrition or coaching seniors.

You might have a passion for working with the youth or exercise therapy.

Level 4 is where you have the opportunity to differentiate and niche down.

The level 4 specializations you can enroll in are provider dependant.

That means each provider that offers level 4 will have its unique catalog of specializations.

These specializations typically follow the provider’s own nice or area of focus.

For instance, one provider or certifying agency might focus on corrective exercise, and because of that, their Level 4 courses might include:

  • Exercise Therapy
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Post Injury Rehab

Another provider might focus more on nutrition and bioenergetics. They may have a list of Level 4 courses that looks a little like this:

  • Sports Nutrition
  • Metabolic Conditioning
  • Youth Nutrition
  • Senior Nutrition

It’s a good idea to pick a provider from level 2 up to level 4 whose specialization options align with your intended career goals.

How UK Certs Are Accredited

As with any educational service, accreditation is key to finding the best options, those that have passed the test for quality under the scrutiny of relevant authorities.

Most health and fitness certifications in the States are accredited by the NCCA or National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

There are other credible commissions, but to pass the quality control test, that’s what you’re looking for.

In the UK, you have REPs (Registry of Exercise Professionals) and CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity)

These two organizations’ approval for a training provider and its certifications means that the government instituted standards that have been met or surpassed. 

This ensures that candidates will be equipped with the right skill and gain them through the right methods of instruction.

That, in turn, allows members of the public, industry peers, and professional organizations to know they are dealing with individuals whose credentials are sound and reliable.

REPs and CIMSPA accreditations also allow you to avoid scams and illegitimate courses, especially with the influx of online-based educational services.

Everyone and their doorknob can create an online course these days, so navigating the options toward safe and credible ones can be tricky.

That’s another reason accreditation is so important.

But to ensure a course or provider is accredited, run a background check with the listings on both REPs and CIMSPA.

That’s because it’s easier to slap on REPs or CIMSPA stickers on a fake course than for a fake course to appear on either the REPs or CIMSPA directory of accredited courses.

Active IQ is another organization that authenticates UK PT courses through its award system.

Top Recommended UK PT Certification Providers

As mentioned earlier, the UK PT cert system is standardized, with the only difference being the different providers or agencies that administer the standard courses.

In light of that, this review will be based on the best providers in the UK.

Providers will be scored and rated in several categories, which we’ll review soon.

For now, let’s take a look at my top recommendations.

Diverse Trainers

Diverse Trainers is a UK PT certifications agency with over 20 years in the game.

In that time, they’ve established a portfolio of CIMSPA-accredited courses as diverse as their name suggests.

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They proclaim a robust student support system and a 99.4% pass rate on all their courses, which could be good or bad news.

We’ll soon find out.

Future Fit Training

Future Fit Training, or FFT, is one of the best-known fitness certification providers in the UK.

Since 1993, they have been an industry leader in UK health and fitness credentialling.

A multiple ‘Training Provider of the Year UKactive award winner also has some gym endorsements.

These include:

  • David Lloyd Clubs
  • Virgin Active
  • Anytime Fitness

HFE Training

Health and Fitness Education, or HFE, is a leading UK provider with many courses.

Fairly new in the game, HFE was founded in 2007 but has become a popular fixture in the UK personal training scene.

Several big-box gyms endorse HFE and have a robust online platform for distance-based and remote virtual learning.

Origym

A leading health and fitness qualifications provider, Origym has a strong reputation in the British fitness community.

Origym courses are also internationally recognized, which means through their various partnerships and stakeholders, getting your level 2, 3, or 4 certifications through Origym can allow you to work internationally.

They also claim the highest employment rate for successful candidates, with 92% of Origym-certified trainers finding work in the fitness industry.

Origym has numerous endorsements and is approved by these and other organizations:

  • DW Fitness First
  • Everlast
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Queen Margaret University (Edinburgh)
  • The Gym Group
  • TruGym
  • UK Active
  • Virgin Active

Study Active

Another highly recognized certification provider, Study Active, has skin in the game with a comprehensive range of options.

They are also one of the few providers to present interest-free loan options, which can be useful.

Unlike college or university tuition loans, a course program is far easier to pay off and has much less long-term risk.

Study Active presents a flexible learning experience with self-paced study and examination policies and a blended approach.

This hybrid structure combines the best online learning with in-person teacher/student interactions, allowing for an educational experience that suits most people.

Accreditation

I’ve already gone through an accreditation and how it works in the UK fitness qualifications scene.

It boils down to CIMSPA and REPs when it comes to official approval.

The twist is not both accrediting commissions accredit every provider.

While some do have both stamps, others only have one.

Let’s see what the case is with the providers below.

CertificationAccreditation
Diverse TrainersCIMSPA
Future Fit TrainingCIMSPA
HFE TrainingCIMSPA, REPs
OrigymREPs
Study ActiveCIMSPA, REPs

From my list, most providers are accredited by CIMSPA, with four out of four.
Only 3 out of 5 have REPs accreditation, with one of those (Origym) being REPs only, while two carry both REPs and CIMSPA accreditations.

In this category, the cert providers with two accreditations are the best.

So HFE Training and Study Active take this round.

Either way, having at least one of the two bodies accrediting the provider and its certs is more than enough; I feel that those with dual accreditation have been through a more stringent quality check.

Regarding which accrediting commission is better, I wouldn’t say one is better, although CIMSPA has been around longer.

Study Materials Rating

Study materials get you from point A to point B regarding earning your credentials, so they must be relevant, adequate, and accessible.

My take on study materials is they should, at the very least, come as part of the package you pay for, and there should be a standard option that features the following basics:

  • Course textbook
  • Course study guide or workbook
  • Practice tests/exams or quizzes
  • Multimedia learning content for increased accessibility
  • On-demand student support

For this section, I will rate the study packages offered for the PT course of each provider, and I’ll only look at the Level 3 personal trainer course since that’s the most relevant to your quest to become a UK-certified fitness instructor.

I’ll rate each cert out of 10, with ten being excellent and 0 being terrible.

CertificationStudy Material Rating (out of 10)
Diverse Trainers8
Future Fit Training8
HFE Training9
Origym9
Study Active9

As it turns out, all providers’ study materials seem to tick most boxes.

They are comprehensive and to the point, with many great reviews from past students.

This may result from the strict governance and quality standards all providers must follow since they are dishing out standardized certifications.

I also like that the study option, or rather study method options, are versatile and suit all learning styles, from self-paced remote online learning to in-person, face-to-face lectures.

While there are three providers, all scoring 9s in my book, I’ll have to give this one to Origin for having a solid interface and tons of student support to back it up.

They also have what, in my opinion, is the best post-certification career support.

UK PT Certification Cost

The cost is a big determining factor when choosing a course.

Quality and relevance aside, your wallet will ultimately do the talking.

In this category, we will look at costs, with the most budget-friendly option taking the cake.

Since it is a roundup of UK-based personal trainer certification programs, I’ll display the pricing in British Pounds.

Google has your back if you need to do a currency conversion.

CertificationCost of certification/qualification
Diverse Trainers£599.00
Future Fit Training£2999
HFE Training£1595.00
Origym£999.00
Study Active£1,248

UK CPT courses are considerably more expensive than you’d normally pay in the States.

Just the numeric value exceeds the average amount you’d pay for a standard NASM, ISSA, or ACE package.

When you factor in the currency exchange, it’s even more evident since the Pound is historically stronger than the Dollar.

In any case, the cheapest wins in this category, making Diverse Trainers the best price provider.

Popularity and Recognition Rating

The popularity and recognition of certification are important factors when hitting the job market after qualifying.

Just think of how going to the right college or university can tip the scales in your favor and act as leverage when looking for professional opportunities.

In the case of UK PT course providers, there isn’t necessarily much of an advantage since most courses are standardized.

However, the popularity and recognition factor does come to the fore when looking at specializations and popularity with candidates.

I’ll rate each provider out of 10, so you can see which has the best recognition.

CertificationIndustry Recognition Rating
Diverse Trainers7
Future Fit Training9
HFE Training8
Origym10
Study Active7

OriGym has a decent reputation and a huge amount of approval from past students based on my research and the reviews on and off their website.

OriGym also has a wide range of specialization options, which means trainers who qualify there have a wider spread of career opportunities.

They have a well-organized, user-friendly approach, and their pricing options may also be attractive.

Future Fit also seems to have a good reputation and stands as a great option, in my opinion.

Certification Takeaway

All the providers I’ve looked at present the value of a standardized approach.

This allows for consistent quality within the UK fitness instructor market. Still, at the same time, I can’t help but imagine the relative lack of diversity and innovation.

With that said, I’ll give the crown to OriGym.

They have the right blend of quality, variety, and affordability with a strong reputation to back it up.

Frequently Asked Questions

What personal trainer certificate is most respected in the UK?

The Level 3 personal trainer certification is the most respected fitness training in the UK.

This is mainly because you can’t start a new career as a certified PT in the UK without this cert.

It’s essential; therefore, beyond being the most respected, it is the only recognized cert.

Different providers offer the certification with numerous learning options; the most recognized of these providers are the ones I’ve listed in this article, although there are over 50 in the UK to choose from.

Only CIMSPA and/or REPs accredited Level 3 certs are recognized.

How long does it take to become a personal trainer UK?

It depends on the provider and how they administer the Level 3 course.

For some, it can take as little as two weeks; for others, a six-month training period is standard.

It also depends on the learning option engaged.

Some students will opt for an online-only, self-paced approach, while others prefer to expedite the process with face-to-face lectures.

Enrollment periods for certs tend to run up to 12 months, so that’s the period in which a course must be completed.

Remember to make sure your First Aid and CPR certs are current.

References

  1. “Sports and Fitness Related Courses,” Stonebridge Associated Colleges, https://www.stonebridge.uk.com/category/sports-and-fitness-related?gclid=Cj0KCQjwtMCKBhDAARIsAG-2Eu8hERX5ugjKTtfHPbBYWesU38GNt04iKm95D3DessJbmkTsU5nPfDEaAoyUEALw_wcB.
  2. “Personal Trainer Levels Explained,” OriGym Personal Trainer Courses, https://origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk/blog/personal-trainer-levels.
  3. “REPs Points System,” OriGym Personal Trainer Courses, https://origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk/blog/reps-points-system.
  4. “Prospectus and Price List,” Future Fit Training, https://www.futurefit.co.uk/prospectus-and-pricelist/prospectus-thank-you/.
  5. “Become a Personal Trainer,” National Register of Personal Trainers, https://nrpt.co.uk/become/providers/index.htm.
  6. “Level 3 Personal Trainer Course,” Diverse Trainers, https://www.diversetrainers.co.uk/course/level-3-personal-trainer-course/.
  7. “Personal Trainer Courses,” Health and Fitness Education (HFE), https://www.hfe.co.uk/personal-trainer/.
  8. “My Online Personal Trainer Course with OriGym,” My Life My Challenges, https://www.mylifemychallenges.com/my-online-personal-trainer-course-with-origym/.
  9. “OriGym Personal Trainer Courses Review,” Trustpilot, https://www.trustpilot.com/review/origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk.
  10. “Future Fit Training Price Guide,” Future Fit Training,
  11. “Health and Fitness Education (HFE) Reviews,” Smart.Reviews, https://smart.reviews/business/hfe.co.uk.
Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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8 thoughts on “Best Personal Trainer Certification In The UK”

    • Hey Wendy, it would be best to check with employer’s and current fitness professionals in your area to ensure that they are respected certifications. But, both ISSA and NASM do have a great international reputation and are likely well-respected in the UK, so you are probably safe pursuing these. Let me know what you find out and if you think the article needs some updating. I hope all is well with your studies.

      Reply
  1. Just wanted to say thank you very much for this! I am a newbie when it comes to health & fitness qualifications and this has been very helpful. I have just enrolled at OriGym For the level 2 & 3 PT qualification and I can say as a first impression the Customer Service was excellent. They are actually backed by CIMSPA and they managed to price match Study Active for me whose online platform did look as appealing to me.

    Reply
    • Hey Maria, I am glad you are benefiting from my website. Also glad you had a positive experience with OriGym. Thanks for informing me of your experience.

      Reply
    • Hey, you are correct, it has been a while since this article was updated and we will get that changed here in the future. Good catch!

      Reply
  2. Well done, that was a fantastic breakdown.

    I’m a UK CPT holding the level 2 right through to an Advanced Level 4 and also the stateside NSCA–CPT. I have recently used my Level 4 CPT Cert as a direct route to University here in the UK to study a BSc in Sport & Exercise Psychology.

    The UK Level 3 Certs aren’t limited to Personal Training as you can opt for the certificate in Pilates, Yoga, Exercise Referral, Sports Conditioning and even Strength and Conditioning.

    CIMSPA has now directly taken over REPs and operate as the single directory for health and fitness qualifications.

    Reply
    • Hey Jordan, Thank you for the additional information on the certifications in the last two points about UK level 3 certs and REPS being defunct. I will update this article soon with the most current info.

      Reply

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