choose right personal trainer course - cover photo - woman on stationary bike

Choosing a right personal trainer course may be time-consuming and frustrating at times. It is important what to check as selecting the course which doesn’t fulfil your requirements may lead to disappointment.

You ideal personal trainer course should tick all the boxes but find a perfect one is not necessary an easy task and most likely you will have to compromise some of your requirements.

It is important that the diploma course of your choice meet the basic standards such as being accredited and offering some kind of support. Here is a list of things to consider.

Course formats

You may already know that to become a personal trainer, you need to have successfully completed both the level 2 gym instructor and level 3 personal trainer courses. All course providers in the fitness industry offer both these courses in a combined package called a personal trainer certificate or a personal trainer diploma.

Most training companies provide these courses in three different formats: full-time, part-time, and online (sometimes called blended learning).

Full-time courses are the most intensive of the course formats. Sometimes referred to as “fast-track” qualifications, they usually require a few weeks of Monday to Friday attendance at a training venue. These are a good option for people who just want to complete the course as fast as possible. They are also recommended for people who don’t have any significant previous experience in the fitness industry.

Part-time courses usually take place at weekends (though some providers, including Discovery, offer also a weekday option to their part-time students). These are good for people who are in full-time employment.  Part-time personal trainer certificates are as valid as full-time ones; it’s exactly the same qualification. They do however require more independent study and sufficient levels of commitment and self-discipline.

Online or blended learning courses are absolutely ideal for people who have no time for study during the week or on weekends because of work, childcare commitments or any other reason, and for people residing in a remote location who would find it very difficult to travel to training venues. Personal trainer courses completed in this highly flexible format give you exactly the same qualification and career opportunities as the other two formats.

Course accreditation (major awarding bodies)

In order to become a fully qualified personal trainer, you need to complete a course which is accredited by one of the major awarding bodies. To be safe you should stick to the fitness course provider which runs course approved by one of the bodies listed below:

YMCA Awards – one of the two most popular awarding bodies in the UK. YMCA certifies over 20000 fitness professionals each year. It is present in 10 different countries of Europe and Middle-East.

ActiveIQ – almost as popular as YMCA Awards. It offers a wide range of accredited qualifications for approved fitness course providers across the UK.

VTCT – not as common as YMCA or ActiveIQ in the fitness sector however it offers accredited qualification.

Student support

Completing your fitness course won’t be necessary a piece of cake. Chances are you will need some help from your tutor or mentor. Make sure provider of your choice has some kind of student support system in place. Especially if you sign up for a part-time or online course your face-to-face tutoring time will be limited or non-existent.

A minimum your course provider should offer you is student support. Student support is a team of fitness professionals who support you in your journey. They are responsible for helping you out with course related paperwork (such as worksheets), booking exams and resits, sorting out any admin staff.

Some of the providers offer mentoring. A mentor is usually a person who looks after you during your course making sure you have the relatively smooth journey from the day you’ve booked your course until the day you graduate (and sometimes after).

Payment options

Personal Trainer Diploma course could be really expensive so it is wise to look into different payment options if you are not able to pay in one go.

Most of the providers offer instalment options. Many of these instalment plans are none interest ones. 0% loans are a great course to finance your course.

Unfortunately, there are providers which charge horrendous APR. The course which initially was £3000 becomes £5500 course when you finally pay it back. Make sure you carefully check financing options before you sign up.

Advanced Government Loans – also known as 19+ loans allow you to get the qualification without putting in a deposit. Some providers advertise this as government funded course however you will have to repay the course once you earn more than £26.5k/year. There are certain conditions you need to meet in order to be eligible: be over 19, live in England for at least 3 years.

Terms of service

We all tend to ignore small print as it is boring. Going through few pages of jargon-packed text is time-consuming. However, you need to check few things as once you sign up for the course you technically sign up the contract with some legal consequences. There are few areas of terms of service you need to check:

Course cancellation – what’s the cooling off period? How long is the cancellation period? Do you have to cover admin costs (sometimes as high as £100) when cancelling the course

Course location

You need to make sure the venue location is in commutable distance from your home. If you live outside of any UK major city chances are you will have to travel long distance. It is not uncommon for students to spend 2-3 hours each day commuting. This would most likely mean you have to wake up early as most of the courses start around 9 o’clock.

Some of the students will have to book accommodation for the duration of the course. If it’s the case make sure your hotel is not too far from the venue as you will have to add travelling fees to the fees you already pay for accommodation.

If you travel by car check if the venue offers some kind of free or cheap parking option. Parking may cost as much as £10/day (or more) and would be a significant cost which you need to add to the course price. Just imagine – if you spend as much as £10 on parking you will spend £250 in 5 weeks (typical personal trainer course duration).

Course price

When comparing the prices of personal trainer courses you need to look beyond the advertised price. First of all, you have to consider all additional course costs such as travelling to the venue. Be especially careful with any hidden costs which may increase the real price you are going to pay for your qualifications. Check the following:

  • Cost of manuals (with some providers course price does not include hard-copy manuals)
  • Exams and exam resits – while most of the providers offer free exams it is a common practice to charge for an exam resit. Resits can cost us much as £100 (for either practical or theory exam).

Course related costs such as travel, parking and accommodation also should be considered by a student.


Personal trainer course comparison websites allow you to compare prices, certificates and course locations and are surely a great tool. Finding an ideal course, however, is a much more complex process. Hopefully, our guide is helpful enough and you will find the course best matching your criteria.