Whether you are about to start your career in fitness or have already made a start on your journey, make sure you know the facts about fitness qualifications. From how you can advance beyond Level 3 to making sure a course will be recognised by a future employer, here are 6 things you should know…
1.) “Fitness instructor” and “personal trainer” are not the same thing
Becoming a fitness instructor is the first stage of a career in fitness, and requires completing the Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing. At Level 2, fitness instructor courses give you a foundation of knowledge about anatomy and physiology, fitness principles and health and safety. This means you can, for example, work on the gym floor and deliver inductions to new members.
To be a personal trainer requires progressing to Level 3. As well as giving a deeper knowledge of anatomy and nutrition, Level 3 gives the training for those who qualify to be able to plan and deliver successful workouts to their clients. If you do not hold a Level 3 personal training certificate, you are not able to call yourself a personal trainer.
2.) It doesn’t have to stop at Level 3
You can take your personal training career further with the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral. This course is designed for fitness professionals and personal trainers who wish to join their local register and work with people who’ve been medically referred onto an exercise programme. With the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral, you can then go on to Level 4, which looks at two key areas that affect a lot of people, opening up new client bases:
Diabetes and obesity - train to gain the skills and the insight to help clients better manage obesity or diabetes.
Lower back pain - learn how to prescribe, plan, conduct and review programmes to address the needs of clients with low back pain.
You can also become a Level 5 personal trainer. This requires training your client’s mindset as well as their muscles. With modules on human psychology, counselling and stress management, you will be equipped to help clients across all areas of their lives, from quitting smoking to managing stress.
3.) CPD courses can help you find your niche
CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. CPD is a way for exercise professionals to demonstrate that they continue to learn and develop throughout their careers, and keep their knowledge up to date.
CPD can also set you apart from the pack. In a gym full of personal trainers, perhaps you will be the only one qualified in teaching kettlebells and Olympics lifts, making you the go-to for those training for muscle mass. Or perhaps you’re in an area full of expectant mothers that mean being trained in ante- or post-natal fitness will give you the edge.
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4.) You can get creative with exercise to music
If you’re interested in teaching group fitness but don't want to be restricted to a set programme, fx and T3 give you workouts that deliver results, but also give you the freedom to have some flare.
Being an fx instructor, for example, gives you access to five different workouts, allowing you to keep your classes fresh and to cater to different audiences. Deliver a martial arts-inspired workout with fight fx, or perhaps go for a full body HIIT workout with pump fx.
Rather than being locked into pre-set choreography for weeks, fx allows you to adapt as you see fit and mix up the tracks to keep your class on its toes.
To teach group exercise, you will need to complete an exercise to music course and hold either the entry level Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Exercise to Music) or the Diploma in Exercise to Music.
5.) Make sure your fitness qualification is REPs-accredited
REPs is an independent, public register that recognises the qualifications of fitness professionals in the UK. Being REPs-accredited shows employers and clients that you meet a certain standard of competency. Level 2, Level 3 and CPD courses should all be REPS-accredited. Avoid training providers that offer non-awarding body certificates and in-house certificates. All of TRAINFITNESS’ courses are REPs-accredited.
It is not compulsory to register with REPs once qualified, but it is regarded as a badge of professionalism by the fitness industry. Some employers may expect it and it will give your clients peace of mind that they are in safe hands.
6.) Being a personal trainer does not make you a nutritionist or dietician
As a personal trainer, you should certainly encourage your clients to make changes to their diet that encompass recognised healthy eating guidelines.
However, personal trainers have a responsibility to not endorse celebrity or trend-based diets, or encourage restricted eating patterns. Personal trainers should also not write individual, bespoke nutrition programmes for their clients.
Clients naturally will seek nutrition advice. An alternative to a four-year degree to become nutritionist is to do enroll in a programme such as body fx. body fx is a 16-week programme designed to give personal trainers the knowledge to help their clients achieve the body, health and happiness they desire.
The programme can be delivered to small groups or with one-to-one clients, and provides them with a comprehensive journey featuring continuous guidance and support to achieve the body, health and happiness they desire.
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