7 Questions You Should Ask Before You Start A Personal Training Course

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It’s no secret that fitness industry qualifications have had a bad rap in recent years and a lot of that rap may well be justified. A lot of fitness training providers don’t operate out of a quality or integrity foundation.

With this, some of them will be focused on passing as many people through as they can to achieve a “high pass rate”, sometimes there will be funding incentives and bonuses to come with this so you can see why they will do it.

Other providers just don’t have the quality of content, staff or delivery model because they don’t understand the industry well enough to transition people into successful, long term work and/or are operating purely from a business perspective.

If you want to succeed in the fitness industry, you want to get crystal clear on who you are about to take a course with so you know if they are right for you, especially when it comes to ethics. After working for over ten training providers in the UK, I have seen where past students have come to loggerheads with their training provider and this article will highlight the areas you need to bring up, to prevent those situations happening to you.

There are some good providers out there but you need to know what you’re looking for. So before you start you PT journey ask these 7 questions.


How Will You Help Me Achieve My Qualifications?

This is important to ask because different companies have different delivery methods in the way courses are run. Some are purely online, some are purely face to face and some are a mix of the two.

Some providers work with large groups at one time and others are one to one or small group. There are also logistical differences in terms of how long courses are and the level of contact time you get from your tutors.

Fast track options may be useful for people who have a background in fitness and want to just get the piece of paper but longer term, more bespoke options are more suitable for those who are relatively or completely new to fitness.

Each of these variables has its place and it’s about deciding what’s best suited to your needs. Taking the time to find out the information from various training providers is going to be the key to a successful transition from student to graduate.

When making a decision, remember to factor in unpaid time off from work, free time around work to complete your course, travel costs and time lost on travelling. These things may inadvertedly turn a £2,000 course into a £3,000 course without realising. If you’re not being paid for your time off, the cost will be even more.

The model we run at Redefining Fitness is flexible and you create your own diary around your tutors’ schedule. We have tutors all over England that operate locally where possible, on a one to one or small group basis. This means you get the best opportunity to manage your own time and to an extent, study as you see fit through a blend of online learning and face to face time.

Group lesson

What Makes You Different or Better To Other Training Providers?

This is a very important question to ask because almost every training provider in the world will claim they are the best. A lot of the time, these claims are not justified. A lot of training providers are only interested in your money and are primarily concerned with getting paid and getting you the piece of paper at the end. Unfortunately, you are just a number to them and they don’t care about your success once you’re out of the door.

If you want excellent customer service and extra support with questions about the industry then you need to ask questions and find the right provider for you. For example, our ethos at Redefining Fitness is that we go the extra mile to ensure that our students are industry ready and we offer business support for six months after graduation as an option for those who want to get stuck into the industry.

If your training provider doesn’t give you any real clarity as to why they are different or better, the chances are that they are just another run of the mill company with a mediocre product.


How Do I Know You Can Deliver What You've Promised?

Plenty of people can talk the talk but they can’t walk the walk. Be wary of providers that promise you the world and exaggerate claims just to get you in the door. These are often just sales pitches to get you to part ways with your money but as we all will have experienced at some point – there is nothing worse than buyer’s remorse.

Really get clear on a company’s terms and conditions and read reviews from past students but also be mindful when doing this. A lot of companies are known to fabricate reviews to boost their image so it’s always best to get feedback from people you know who have done courses themselves or from successful fitness professionals that you’ve met in the gym. This will give a truer representation of how a company is.

Also watch out for companies or sales reps that bad mouth other providers through name dropping them as this would suggest they are insecure about their own delivery and this generally is a poor tact to take in any industry as good providers will highlight their strengths more than others weaknesses.

All reputable companies in the UK will be regulated by Ofqual or a governing body of similar stature as well as a recognised awarding body such as Active IQ, YMCA Awards, NCFE or Focus Awards (this is not an exclusive list). These still have their limitations but at least there is some benchmark to work off.

personal training course people

How Do I Know You Have My Best Interests At Heart?

The really links in to an aforementioned point on companies seeing you as just another number. If a company holds this approach then you simply won’t enjoy your experience with them or at best, you’ll feel indifferent about them. A lot of companies will say things to hit their targets and a lot of sales reps are under pressure to get sales to keep their jobs. This all comes from a place of scarcity and it will have a negative effect on people who buy into these products and services.

This has happened with companies in the past who have gone bust after promising the world to students and not being able to deliver. It’s important to work with a company who are transparent and have measures in place to protect you if things do go wrong.

At Redefining Fitness, we pride ourselves on integrity and transparency and because we are a training provider that cares – it’s more important for us to help you find the right course pathway for you, even if that ends up being with another provider. We are aware of what we’re very good at and what we’re not but our delivery model isn’t suited to everybody so there are other options.

glasses on table

What Happens If The Company Goes Bust Whilst I'm Doing My Qualification?

This is something you want to get clear in your terms and conditions because it happens more often than you may think. I have experienced students with other providers switch companies over mid-course because of bankruptcy or liquidation and it’s been nothing short of messy. Not only has work often had to be re-done, registrations weren’t always done properly and courses have had to be repaid to get them to be completed. This is not ideal for anyone.

For peace of mind, it’s a good idea to get clear on the steps in place if this was to happen just so you don’t get caught up in a difficult situation. Some companies will put guarantees in their contracts whilst others will provide contingency plans if things do go wrong. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into will make any potential problems easier to fix if they arise.

Fitness cable machine

Who Will My Tutors Be and What Makes Them Credible?

It’s not often that this is made clear by a company when you enrol on a course. There are a lot of very experienced and knowledgeable tutors in the fitness industry but sadly, there are also a lot of poor ones. Due diligence and research is important as the quality of the tutor you work with will be a huge influence on your success on the course but also your outlook when starting in the industry.

Recent feedback from a new student of ours who did their Level 2 Gym Instructor course elsewhere was that their tutor didn’t know their anatomy very well and referred to their Gluteal muscles (backside) as their “bot bot” and when pressed on it, the tutor didn’t seem to know what they were talking about.

Another problem is that a lot of tutors lack real industry experience and/or they have been out of personal training for a very long time so they are no longer current or relevant. Things move quickly in this industry so being good at something ten years ago doesn’t mean they’ll be good at it now.

When looking into tutors, key things to look for are levels of qualifications and experience. Degrees are not essential to be a strong tutor as this is a vocational industry but extensive study across a range of fields should be evidenced as well as some insight into general achievements and experience. All of the Redefining Fitness team has qualified to a minimum of Level 4 or above with a high number of them having bachelor’s degrees/masters degrees and extensive industry experience, often internationally.

The last thing you want from a tutor is someone who’s only slightly more qualified than you without a successful track record in personal training or fitness disciplines. This would be like the blind leading the blind. It’s always better to learn from someone who you can emulate to some degree.

Our policy at Redefining Fitness is that we only use highly successful and current practising personal trainers who teach alongside their work. Our team come from a range of backgrounds including osteopathy, strength and conditioning, performance, life coaching, fitness management, nutrition, group exercise and many more disciplines. Most of the team has international experience and this variety ensures that we can continue to provide the best quality content in the industry.

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How Do The Qualifications You Are Proposing Help Me Achieve My Goal?

The courses you take on need to be relevant to the roles you want to work in when you qualify. For some people, this is more the group exercise route so the Level 2 Exercise to Music qualification would be a good starting point. For someone who wants to work one to one with clients then a Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training is a better starting point (you will need a level 2 pre-requisite to do this).

If you want to work with specialist populations, taking on a Level 4 Lower Back Pain Management or Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes qualification may be more pertinent but you will again need any pre-requisites for this. Working with children may be another pathway as would getting into strength and conditioning as these all have different skills and focuses in their learning journey.

You need to ultimately have an idea of what you want to do, even if it’s not perfect. As you find your way in the industry it will likely be that these ideas change and that’s fine but you still ideally want a good starting point. If you’re not sure where to start, then start generic and try a few different things to see what you take to and refine it further down the line.

They key is to not get sucked into courses (especially CPD) that you don’t need early on in your career. A lot of companies will try and upsell you the dream with aspects of education you don’t necessarily want or need which costs you more money and time and we all know time is a commodity we can’t afford to waste.

Interested In Becoming A Fitness Professional In The UK? We'd Love To Help.

My names Christian Roach. I’m the Education Director for Redefining Fitness. We deliver UK based fitness qualifications for aspiring personal trainers across the UK. Our internationally experienced team of tutors help students go from enrolment to graduation in as little as six months. We’re known for delivery exceptionally high personal service and for producing industry ready fitness professionals upon graduation, leaving our students feeling inspired to be the best version of themselves.

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