Can You Complete a Level 2 Gym Instructor Course for Free?

male gym instructor posing for camera

If you want to start working in the fitness industry, you may be wondering whether you should enrol on a Level 2 Gym Instructor course for free.

Whilst this may seem like a cost-effective option, a free gym instructor course doesn’t necessarily equate to high-quality training. In this article, you’ll learn why, as we discuss:

You can get the professional training you need to stand out to employers with OriGym’s Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification.

If you would like to learn more about this course and many others, download our free course prospectus.

Do Free Gym Instructor Courses Exist?

man holding a certificate stating he is qualified

This is a great question to help you develop your understanding of the free gym instructor courses that are available online.

The answer to this question is technically yes, but, there are many limitations to free or cheap fitness instructor courses. The main limitation is that these courses do not qualify you to work as a Level 2 Gym Instructor and are not recognised by employers. 

That said, a quick search for ‘Free fitness instructor courses’ online does generate results. One site that offers ‘Free Gym Instructor Courses & Training’ is Reeds Courses. Here, you can find free and low-priced courses for as little as £10

examples of gym instructor courses available online

We can understand why you might be tempted to enrol on one of these courses because of their minimal costs.

But will these courses train you to the standards that can help you find employment within the fitness industry?

Let’s break one of them down so you can learn what you’ll be taught in exchange for your money. 

Reading the details of the ‘Gym Instructor Training Course-CPD Certified’, we learn that you’ll be required to complete 6 modules over 21 hours of study:

snapshot of course modules studied on an online course

Whilst these modules can provide a broad overview of the skills you need as a gym instructor, they won’t teach the Key Fitness Instructor skills employers will look for.

If you compare this to OriGym’s Ofqual-regulated L2 Gym Instructor Course, for example, you’ll complete 8 modules over a minimum of 6 weeks.

Whilst on this course, you’ll learn about running gym-based sessions, alongside developing your understanding of the science of anatomy and physiology, and exercise.

The course requires you to pass three tests, with one requiring you to pass a physical assessment that demonstrates your ability to carry out gym-based inductions.

The Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification is a mandatory requirement to successfully get a position within the fitness industry that all employers will seek from applicants. 

Returning to the ‘Gym Instructor Training Course’ on Reed, you’ll notice a practical assessment, which is a component of the OriGym course, is not a feature of the course:

This probably explains why in the Q and A section the course is described as a ‘knowledge-based course’ that follows an ‘accredited curriculum’:

Snapshot of course provider answering a query about their course being a whole course

The answer from the Training Tale Team also suggests that the course is not an accredited course. 

This means that this course is not regulated by Ofqual or accredited by an awarding body such as Focus Awards. As a result, this course will not enable you to pursue a job or get insured as a fitness instructor. 

The lack of accreditation also means you cannot guarantee that this course will train you to the industry standards set out by Ofqual. 

So, if you end up enrolling on such a course, it’s important to recognise that you won’t gain an industry-recognised qualification that can help you start working as a gym instructor.

If you’re looking to become a fitness instructor in the UK, one of the free or cheap courses referenced above is not the way to do this.

Put simply, they aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Let’s explore in more detail what course regulation and accreditation mean when reviewing free gym instructor courses.


Get the training you need to start working in the fitness industry!

With OriGym's Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification!

Are Free Fitness Instructor Courses Regulated and Accredited?

a woman holding a fully qualified l2 certificate

When you research free fitness instructor courses a common trend emerges; they lack regulation from Ofqual, which is why you won’t see Level 2 in front of them. 

But what is Ofqual regulation and why is it important for a gym instructor course to be accredited?

What is A Regulated Fitness Instructor Course?

Enrolling on an Ofqual-regulated qualification means it has been approved by this governing body and that it follows a set of criteria that ensures each student is trained in the fundamental skills relevant to that level.

You can see this with the modules you’ll study on the Ofqual-regulated Level 2 Gym Instructing Course on the Focus Awards website, which is OriGym’s awarding body:

Snapshot of mandatory units studies on the Focus Awards course 

If we return to Reed's website and view the ‘Gym Instructor Training Course-CPD Certified course’, we can see that nowhere does it mention that it is Ofqual-regulated:

Gym instructor course showing course price and duration time

This is further reflected in the modules we mentioned earlier that teach different subjects than those that appear on the Ofqual-regulated qualification.

Should you decide to get a free fitness course certification, you can expect not to be trained to standards recognised within the fitness industry.

However, it can serve as an introductory course to understand some of the skills gym instructors need.

If you solely relied on this qualification, you will not be able to land employment as a gym instructor, since the course doesn’t train you to be a level 2 gym instructor and is not an Ofqual-regulated course.

Whilst making sure your gym instructor qualification is Ofqual-regulated, it’s equally important to make sure it’s properly accredited. 

Let’s examine why.

What Does An Endorsed Fitness Instructor Course Mean?

man holding a framed certificate

Another reason why free online courses don’t cost anything but also don’t help you to pursue this career is that they are not endorsed by CIMSPA. 

When a course is endorsed by CIMSPA, you can feel confident that your training meets the standards required to work in the fitness industry.

A stamp approval will appear on qualifications that are endorsed by CIMSPA which will indicate to employers that you have carried out training recognised to be among the highest standard of the fitness industry.

If you choose OriGym’s Level 2 Gym Instructor Course, you can feel rest assured that your qualification will be endorsed by CIMSPA and Ofqual regulated, and therefore fully employable compared to those who chose a free gym instructor course.

A free fitness instructor qualification will only provide you with knowledge training, which employers won’t be able to authenticate when you present this qualification to them, since Ofqual and CIMSPA’s logo won’t appear on it.

Will Completing Free Fitness Instructor Training Improve My Job Prospects?

person stamping application for a job position with the word 'Hired'

As mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as a free level 2 fitness instructor course (online or in-person), the only free options are those that are general ‘fitness instructor training’ courses. Therefore, you may find it difficult to increase your job prospects with this type of qualification. 

This is because gym chains, independent studios, and leisure centres work closely with these professional bodies to ensure they only hire gym instructors who have been trained on a CIMSPA-endorsed and Ofqual-regulated qualification. 

As you can see from this job advert on Indeed Jobs, Edinburgh Leisure, is looking for Part-Time Gym Instructors who hold a CIMSPA-affiliated qualification:

Gym instructor job online that wants candidates CIMSPA affiliated

If you were to see a Fitness Instructor job description online and apply for the position with a free certification, you’d find it extremely difficult to get invited for an interview and impossible to successfully get the job. 

Employers will see that the CIMSPA and Ofqual logos are missing from your qualification which signals to them you have not carried out the appropriate training.

It also has implications for you if you’re hoping to secure insurance with your free gym instructor qualification!

Can You Get Insurance After Completing a Free Fitness Instructor Course?

the word insurance in front of a tick

Many professions require people to have insurance and gym instructors are no different. 

If you’re hoping to get insurance with a free gym instructing qualification, things start to get complicated.

Insurance providers will require you to submit proof that you’re eligible to receive coverage from them and this requires you to hold an industry-recognised certification.

With a free gym instructor qualification, it’s likely not to be subject to the regulations and 

accreditation from governing bodies that allow it to be authenticated by insurance providers.

This will make it impossible for you to acquire insurance which will add to the difficulty a free qualification already brings you in the job market.

The reason for this is simple, employers will ask applicants to already have the appropriate coverage when applying for a position they have open, as demonstrated by this Fitness Instructor and Self-Employed Personal Trainer position in Tooting: 

job advert online that shows insurance is a requirement to apply

So when you pursue a Level 2 Gym Instructing qualification, it’s important to make sure you enrol on an accredited course that makes you eligible to receive the insurance coverage you need and stops you from facing barriers to work in the industry.

Being able to secure the correct coverage makes you less vulnerable to high payouts if someone successfully claims you.

Free Level 2 Gym Instructor Courses Might Actually Not Be 'Free'

money going into a piggy bank

When you enrol on a ‘Level 2’ Fitness Instructor course online for free, you might be surprised to learn that they might not be as free as you think they are.

This is because they might have surprise fees that you have not anticipated when agreeing to enrol on them:

  • Resits- If you fail to pass any of your assessments on a free course, you may be subjected to additional fees to resit those assessments to pass. 
  • Access to modules-You might be surprised to learn that many free courses limit your access to modules. This means you’ll have to pay extra to access those modules or ‘upgrade’ your course.
  • Admin and certification costs- Some courses might appear to be free but actually come with hidden fees, usually ‘administration costs’. For example, you might be charged an admin fee to have your certificate posted to you. 

That’s why it’s important to research what you’ll get access to on a free course and compare it to a fully accredited L2 Gym Instructor qualification to see which offers the greatest value for money.

Before You Go   

After reading this article you’ll understand the limitations of enrolling for free qualifications and why you’ll never find a Level 2 gym instructor course for free.

Remember you can get the Ofqual-regulated and CIMSPA-endorsed training you need by studying a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification with OriGym. Download our course prospectus to learn more!

Written by Liam Donohoe

Content Writer and Fitness Enthusiast

Liam graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. He has also co-written a short film that has been featured in several film festivals. In October 2023, he ran and completed his first half marathon and for 2024, he's now training to complete his first metric marathon.

In his spare time, Liam likes to teach himself German, read books, lift weights and listen to metal music that only passionate fans of the genre will understand.

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