The Best Personal Trainer Qualification (UK)

If you’re based in the UK and considering becoming a certified personal trainer, it’s important to find a training provider who issues qualifications under either YMCA and NCFE. Oxbridge Home Learning provide a NCFE course that can be studied online and completed in approximately a year – if you’re dedicated and prepared to put in the hours.

Studying to be a personal trainer

In my recent article, I looked at how to become a personal trainer in the UK and what online courses were available. I revealed that YMCA and NCFE are the main awarding bodies under which personal trainer qualifications are awarded. But which are the best personal trainer qualifications in the UK?

We established that a qualification under NCFE through the provider below was available for the fraction of the price of the YMCA personal trainer qualification.

Cheaper isn’t always better, so today we’re going to take a look inside the course structure to find out the similarities and differences of YMCA and NCFE courses. Hopefully, this will help you decide which is the best personal trainer qualification in the UK.

Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing: YMCA v NCFE

In collating this information, I looked at two providers of personal training qualifications, one being Oxbridge Home Learning who I intend to enroll with when life affords me the opportunity to retrain. Here’s what I found:

Anatomy and Physiology for ExerciseAnatomy and Physiology for Exercise
Health, Safety and Welfare in a Fitness Environment Health, Safety and Welfare in a Fitness Environment
Principles of Exercise, Fitness and Health Principles of Exercise, Fitness and Health
Know How to Support Clients Who Take Part in Exercise and Physical ActivityKnow How to Support Clients Who Take Part in Exercise and Physical Activity
Planning Gym-Based ExercisePreparing for Gym Based Exercise
Instructing Gym-Based ExerciseInstructing Gym-Based Exercise

So both qualifications appear to be identical at the Level 2 Fitness Instructing stage in terms of units covered and course content. Let’s take a look at the next level.

Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training: YMCA v NCFE

As you can see in the table below, there is a clear difference in course content at Level 3 when considering YMCA against the NCFE course from Oxbridge Home Learning:

Anatomy and PhysiologyAnatomy and Physiology for Exercise
How to Maintain Health, Safety and Welfare in a Variety of Fitness Environments, Including the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable AdultsHealth, Safety and Welfare in a Fitness Environment
How to Programme Safe and Effective Exercise for a Range of Clients, the Health Benefits of Physical Activity and the Importance of Healthy Eating
How to Communicate With Clients Effectively, and Motivate Clients to Adhere to an Exercise Programme

How to Apply the Principles of Nutrition to Support Client Goals as Part of an Exercise and Physical Activity ProgrammeApplying the Principles of Nutrition to a Physical Activity Programme
How to Design, Manage, and Adapt a Personal Training Programme With Apparently Healthy Adults of All Ages
Programming Personal Training with Clients
How to Deliver Exercise and Physical Activity as Part of a Programme for Apparently Healthy Adults of All Ages
Delivering Personal Training Sessions

On the face of it there are gaps in the syllabus for the NCFE qualification, however I believe that this may be simply a removal of duplication between the Level 2 and Level 3 courses which enables Oxbridge to deliver the course in a combined online course which can be completed in around a year.

So Which Is the Best Personal Trainer Qualification in the UK?

If your priorities are:

  • Value for money;
  • Becoming a qualified personal trainer in the shortest possible time;
  • Studying online;

…then the Oxbridge NCFE qualifications may be more suitable than the YMCA.

Is there a trade-off between depth of knowledge and the speed of delivery of the course? Not necessarily.

Remember that the NCFE Level 2 Gym Instructing and Level 3 Personal Training qualifications are fitness industry approved. If you obtain your personal trainer certification through them, you will be able to join the UK’s largest register of fitness professionals and gain international recognition.

Which Qualification Will You Choose?

If you’re considering becoming a certified personal trainer, drop me a comment and let me know the route you’re considering going down? If there is a personal trainer course or course provider that you’ve identified, I’d love to hear from you so that I can check them out and see how they compare to Oxbridge.


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