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FREE Personal Trainer Courses: Everything You Need to Know

free pt courses banner

If you want to turn your passion into a career, then becoming a PT through a free personal training course probably sounds too good to be true!

In this article, we’ll explore the most common questions and topics about free personal trainer courses, including:

Ready to kickstart your new fitness career? Enquire about our accredited Personal Training Diploma here to learn more about our courses and flexible payment options.

Do Free Personal Trainer Courses Exist?

You’ve likely searched this topic looking to learn how to become a personal trainer for free, and whilst these courses do exist they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on! 

In this article, we'll discuss the many differences between paid and free personal training courses. For now, here's an overview:

Regulated vs Free Personal Trainer Courses Table

In a nutshell, not only are free personal trainer courses poor quality but these ‘qualifications’ won’t be taken seriously by employers and will not allow you to start your own business either! 

Platforms such as ‘Reed’ and ‘Find Courses’ advertise free and cheap personal training courses, like the one below:

Free online personal trainer course example

Although this may seem like a great idea, if you’re serious about becoming a personal trainer and are looking to lay the foundation for a rewarding career, these cheap PT courses aren’t the way to go.

If you’re intent on saving money, there are hundreds of legitimate cheap personal training courses that will certify you to the highest possible standards. We'll explain how to find an affordable course very soon, but for now, let's discuss why you there's no such thing as a free personal trainer certification.   

Why Can’t I Become A Personal Trainer For Free?

person making notes about free personal trainer courses

The biggest argument against free personal trainer certifications is that they are not recognised by both employers or insurance providers! 

As a result, not only will you struggle to find work after completing your course, but you could be held liable in a court of law should a claim be made against you!  

Instead, both employers and insurance providers alike require personal training qualifications that are:

  • Regulated 
  • Accredited 
  • Endorsed  

Let’s discuss the importance of each of these factors in more detail, to shed further light on why you shouldn’t waste your time on ‘free/cheap personal trainer courses’.

#1 Course Regulation And Ofqual Explained 

Let’s begin by stating a simple fact: if a course is legitimate it WILL be regulated by a professional body, such as Ofqual. This is the first thing you should check when looking for a training provider! 

Ofqual is a government-run organisation, acting as the regulator for NVQ and RQF qualifications in the UK. They set the framework that all governing bodies, colleges, and training providers must adhere to when offering regulated qualifications.

Ofqual creates a ‘level’ structure for qualifications based on the learning outcomes and the certification required to perform a certain job role.

For example, if you want to become a fitness instructor, you must complete a Level 2 Fitness Instructor course to qualify. You can then become a personal trainer by progressing to a Level 3 Personal Trainer.

Check out our graphic below to see how the Ofqual structure works for regulated fitness qualifications:

level 3 personal trainer course structure

As you can see in the screenshot below, this provider advertising cheap personal trainer courses doesn’t come with an associated level, proving that they’re not Ofqual regulated qualifications.

Cheap online personal trainer course example

Technically, training providers can label their courses whatever they like - However, what they can’t do is assign a ‘level’ next to it without regulation. Doing so would breach guidelines set by the ASA(Advertising Standards Authority).

This is why a free personal training course in the UK will never be labelled with ‘Level 3’ and will instead be given a generic term (as is the case with the example above).

On top of this, employers won’t even consider your application should you hold a qualification that doesn’t meet Ofqual’s guidelines. So whilst the training might be free, it will also be a giant waste of time!  

 

Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Get qualfiied in the best way with OriGym's Personal Trainer Diploma!

#2 Accreditation And Focus Awards Explained

focus awards logo

Awarding bodies, or governing bodies as they’re also known, are the companies that act between Ofqual and colleges/training providers such as OriGym.

These are called ‘awarding bodies’ as they are responsible for awarding you with your qualifications. The name and logo of the organisation will appear on your personal training certificate.

These logos act as stamps of approval and help authenticate the certificate for prospective employers by providing evidence you have completed a qualification that fits nationally agreed criteria.

Free personal trainer certifications will not feature these stamps of approval, as they don’t come from recognised awarding bodies! You may as well write your name on a plain piece of paper and call it a qualification!

Here are the logos of the major awarding bodies to look out for when searching for an Ofqual-regulated personal trainer course:

Cheap personal training course awarding bodies

#3 What Is Course Endorsement And Why Is It Important?

Free PT course - CIMSPA logo

As well as Ofqual regulation, colleges and training providers of any reputation will go to external companies that provide accreditations relevant to the course they’re offering.

These are stamps of quality control which show employers the standards of their personal training courses meet and surpass the standards set by the NOS (National Occupational Standards). Within the fitness sector, this is done by CIMSPA (Chartered Institute of Sport & Physical Activity).

Course endorsement is something employers will look out for and in some cases, employers will even specify they’re seeking candidates with a CIMSPA-endorsed Level 3 Personal Training qualification, such as this job ad from Nuffield Health:

Nuffield Health Personal Trainer Job Ad

If you’re looking to complete a Level 3 personal trainer course for free, be aware that these qualifications won’t meet the National Occupational Standards outlined by CIMSPA.

Sites and providers that offer free personal trainer certifications are rarely (if ever) accredited, because the cost of accreditation exceeds the actual price of the qualification. 

This is why you must weigh up personal trainer course costs. By doing so, you’re more likely to find a legitimate Level 3 Personal Trainer Course that offers your preferred study method with all the necessary topics at a reasonable price.

However, if you’re still confused about how regulation and endorsement affect your course, we’ve put this graphic together for those more visual learners:

Free personal training courses regulation and endorsement

- - - -

Before we move on to discussing finding employment with a free personal trainer qualification, check out these articles below to find out more about getting qualified:

 

Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Get qualfiied in the best way with OriGym's Personal Trainer Diploma!

Will Employers Accept A Free Personal Training Certificate?

hand stamping a cv with hired print

Employers, such as those from national gym chains, private personal training studios, and leisure centres, all work closely with these major accreditors.

As we mentioned earlier, some will only employ those who have qualified from the correct course such as a CIMSPA-endorsed personal training courses, and won’t even consider applicants who enrolled on free PT courses.

For example, this personal trainer job advertisement by David Lloyd Clubs specifically requests personal trainers with a CIMSPA-endorsed Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification:

Personal Trainer David Lloyd Clubs Ad

This means that if you enrol on free online personal training courses, you're unlikely to be considered for an interview, let alone become employed.

Unfortunately, every week we get emails from people who have bought unregulated, cheap personal trainer courses and are struggling to get a job. The enquiry below is just one of many emails our enrollment team receive:

OriGym Level 3 Personal Trainer Course Enquiry Example

Do Free Personal Trainer Courses Get You Insurance?

the word insurance in front of a logo

Like a lot of professions, personal trainers need insurance. The purpose of which is to provide legal protection, in the event a claim is made against you.

Insurance companies ask PTs to submit their certification before approving an application for an insurance policy. This is because your personal trainer certificate acts as proof you have undergone the appropriate level of training to fulfil your personal training role.

The bottom line is, if you’ve purchased one of the cheap or free ‘personal trainer courses’ online, you won’t pass the insurance checks. This can be seen in the example below, outlined by Insure4Sport:

Insure4Sport FAQ about recognised personal trainer qualification

It’s important to note that should you decide to go ahead and train clients without insurance, you will be doing so at your own risk. This can lead to prosecution and even imprisonment if something goes drastically wrong.

Some potential issues PT insurance protects you from include:

  1. A client makes a harassment claim against you.
  2. If a client suffers an illness or injury, they can sue you in a court of law for negligence.
  3. If you lose income due to illness or injury.
  4. You damage your equipment.
  5. You (or a client) damage third-party equipment.

How to Find a Cheap Personal Training Course That is Accredited?

teacher in front of a green board

As a training provider we understand that everyone has different financial obligations. But even if you’re on a budget you can still find a regulated course, rather than opting for these worthless alternatives. 

We’d recommend conducting price comparison research in order to find a regulated cheap personal training course. 

To help with this process, OriGym has created the following chart detailing the cost of a Level 3 Personal Training course with some of the UK’s biggest training providers:

Bar Chart Comparing Cheap Personal Training Courses

But why exactly do these prices differ so greatly from one another? Well the overall cost of a qualification can be influenced by a number of factors.

For example, courses that are delivered in-person typically cost more than those that are exclusively virtual. This is because the training provider has to cover the cost of instructor fees, course materials, as well as rent for both the gym and classroom.

Whereas, online personal training courses typically cost less, as they don’t require the likes of a classroom space. This is due to the fact that students will be studying independently from their own home. 

Another influencing factor in the price of a personal training course is the quality of the learning resources provided. 

Some training providers may simply offer their students a simple PDF guidebook, whereas others will offer tutor support, quizzes, interactive modules, practical workshops etc. 

This is likely why you’ll see so many unregulated cheap or free online personal trainer courses, as they cost nothing to make and the quality of the resources will reflect that!

Finally, a training provider may choose to price their courses strategically in order to increase their own profits and improve the overall perception of their brand.

personal trainer with client

We’ve all been guilty of associating cost with quality at some point, but just because something is more expensive does not mean it’s automatically better. Instead, you should conduct thorough research into a provider prior to deciding whether you wish to enrol.

At OriGym, our primary goal is to make personal training courses as accessible as possible, without ever compromising the quality of our learning resources or teachings. This is why our Level 3 Personal Training qualification is one of the most affordable on the UK market to date! 

Top Tips For Finding A Cheap Personal Training Courses 

hand with calculator next to piggy bank

If you’re trying to find the best cheap personal training course to enrol on, you’ll want these expert tips outlined below!

#1 Look Out For Hidden Fees 

If you find a cheap personal training course online, you'll need to make sure that it doesn’t come with hidden fees, which could significantly increase the true price of the qualification.

These hidden fees will normally appear as: 

  • Course resits fees
  • Administration costs
  • Additional charges to receive your certificate

When researching providers who advertise cheap personal training courses, make sure you ask about any additional costs that might be associated with enrolling and studying this qualification to help you understand the true cost.

#2 See If They Charge Interest

If a training provider is offering cheap personal training courses, you need to check whether they’re charging interest on the course. 

This could appear on monthly instalment charges you’re required to pay which could result in you paying more for the course than you originally anticipated. 

Before purchasing a cheap personal training course, you’ll need to review the terms and conditions of your agreement diligently! Here, you will be able to discover whether any additional interest or fees will be added on to the total cost. 

personal trainer with clipboard

#3 Keep An Eye Out For Providers Who Offer Package Deals 

Course providers can offer cheap personal training courses as part of a package deal which normally includes a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification and a Level 3 Personal Trainer course. 

Packaged courses are usually cheaper than single courses as they cost less for the provider to operate and for you to enrol on. 

For example, at OriGym we offer a Personal Trainer Diploma which combines both the aforementioned  Level 2 and Level 3 courses respectively. Purchasing this one course is cheaper than buying each individually. 

FAQs About Cheap Level 3 Personal Training Courses

Why Are Some Accredited Personal Trainer Courses Cheaper Than Others?

a woman with a man learning about feee personal trainer courses

By now, you probably understand that becoming a successful personal trainer is going to cost you money - but why are there still differences between how much accredited personal trainer courses cost?

Personal trainer course costs vary depending on a few factors: 

  1. Whether there is in-person teaching
  2. Amount of in-person teaching
  3. Course duration
  4. Study options
  5. Level of company accreditations
  6. Number of qualifications in your package
  7. Level of tutor support
  8. Level of post-course support

You will find how much a personal trainer course costs varies greatly among providers. Fees normally range from as low as £850 through to £4,500, depending on the factors mentioned above, as well as where the company wants to position their training in the marketplace.

When looking at personal training course costs, you need to weigh up these factors too. For help comparing courses in terms of cost and quality from the best training providers, see our guide on comparing personal trainer courses

Why Don't Accredited Providers Offer Personal Trainer Courses for Free?

man becoming a russian swing

When looking at free courses for personal training, it is free/cheaper than expected, you should ask yourself these questions: 

  • Who will be marking my work? 
  • Who is invigilating my assessments? 

All of these things cost money and not many of us are willing to work for free!

For an Ofqual regulated training provider to operate with the correct endorsements, there are further costs, including:

  • Registration Fees (paid to the governing body)
  • Certification Fees (paid to the governing body)
  • Tutor Costs
  • Venue Hire
  • Tutor Support
  • Manuals
  • Writing of Course Materials
  • Marketing / Advertising of the course
  • Annual costs for relevant course accreditations

While this list goes on, the point we’re trying to make is that all of these costs need to be accounted for within any college or training provider's business plan. No training provider is going to operate at a loss so it only makes sense you have to pay for legitimate courses.

 

Become a Certified Personal Trainer

Get qualfiied in the best way with OriGym's Personal Trainer Diploma!

Does The Government Offer Free Personal Training Courses for The Unemployed?

woman enjoying a personal training session​​

The UK government does offer free personal training courses for people who meet the criteria to receive funding for particular grants, these include:

  • Advanced Learner Loan
  • Low-Value Provision Scheme
  • Military Resettlement Grant 

You can learn whether you're eligible to receive government funding to enrol on a free personal training course by reading our article, ‘Government Funded Personal Training Courses vs Non-Funded’.

Before You Go!

In most instances, the answer to ‘how to become a certified personal trainer for free’ is - you can’t. If an online personal trainer course is free or so cheap that it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

If you’re serious about a career change to become a personal trainer through a reputable course provider, enquire about our Personal Trainer Diploma.

To find out more about the courses we offer here at OriGym, go ahead and download our free prospectus 

Written by Luke Hughes

CEO and Co-Founder

Join Luke on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Luke is the CEO and Co-Founder of OriGym. Holding a first-class degree in Sport and Exercise and an MSc in Sport and Nutrition, he is also qualified as a Level 4 Personal Trainer with various specialist credentials covering the entire spectrum of health, fitness and business. Luke has contributed to a variety of major industry publications, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Metro, Cosmopolitan, The Mirror, The Sun, The Standard and more.

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