How to become a qualified fitness professional

It’s all about carefully taking your pick of the qualifications and training programmes on offer, and choosing which ones will give you the greatest career benefits. It can be tricky to navigate all the options out there such as online learning courses, which is why we’ve picked out what you need to look for…

Set yourself apart

Formal education is an essential part of becoming a fitness professional, and you’ll find that you can study a broad range of subjects such as a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (GYM). Sport Science is becoming a standard degree option at many universities – this can be a great way to give your knowledge a strong grounding, before building on your skills with a couple of specialist courses such as a Level 3 Personal Training Diploma and UKSCA courses that guide you towards your particular interests.

Choose wisely

When deciding on what to study (and where), consider whether the certification you’re interested in is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Make sure your course has some practical based learning.

There is a growing trend of online learning fitness courses which is not always the best option, as a fitness professional your work will be mainly practical based, so it’s important you get some tutor guidance from your course. All NCCA courses are thoroughly checked and evaluated on a regular basis, so you can rest assured that they’re worth your time and money.

Ready to specialise?

Once you’ve got your main NCCA course sorted, it’s time to look at your options for specialising. Think carefully about what you’d like to focus on: there’s everything from group fitness instruction such as indoor cycling and sports performance to clinical training and injury prevention.

Another thing to consider is whether you’d like to be seen as a specialist in a particular subject, or as a broad-spectrum generalist – that is, able to train clients in a range of disciplines. Due to the competition, it is always worth having your own niche within the industry.

Real-life learning

Once you’ve completed your chosen courses, gaining experience working day-to-day in the fitness industry is invaluable. Get in touch with a range of businesses you’re interested in learning more about, and ask if you’d be able to shadow a member of their team for a few days or weeks. I remember starting out thirteen years ago at Greens Health and Fitness in Norwich doing voluntary hours before gaining employment.

Learning directly from experienced fitness professionals is a great way to learn things that you might not be able to pick up from textbooks and lectures – so get out there, and practice the skills you’ve studied. It’ll be satisfying to see your knowledge put to use, and experience what it’ll be like once you take on your first role as a fitness pro yourself.

Written by Kevin Mantle, founder of Norfolk Health & Fitness

For more information, contact Kevin via email: kevin@norfolkhealthandfitness.com

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