FREE Personal Trainer Course VS Paid Personal Trainer Courses

free pt courses image

Personal training is one of the most in-demand forms of vocational learning in the UK, with hundreds of people searching for free personal trainer courses every month. However, this article will help to highlight that a course's price does not indicate it's quality, by covering:

If you want to get qualified with a reputable course provider, take a look at our industry-leading Personal Training Diploma. This course has been fully CIMSPA endorsed and is regulated by Ofqual, guaranteeing it to be of high quality.

You can also download a course prospectus (it’s free!) to learn more about the courses that we offer here at OriGym.

Do Free Personal Trainer Courses Exist?

If you’re looking into how to become a certified personal trainer for free, the biggest question on your mind is probably something along the lines of ‘is there such a thing as free online personal trainer certification programs?’. 

Technically, the answer is yes. But in reality, when it comes to qualifications that will help you to land a job or start a personal training business, the answer is no. Allow us to explain...

On the likes of or Find Courses you can find cheap or even free personal trainer courses advertised, with prices ranging anywhere from nothing through to around £80. 

Just take a look at this “personal training course” (the inverted commas are deliberate) below:

Free personal training course online image

Or this one:

Personal trainer course costs image

There are literally hundreds of cheap online personal training courses out there, all of which are great if you want to learn a little and expand your existing knowledge of health and fitness.

The problem is that this is all that free online personal training courses are good for!

There are only a few instances in which actual personal trainer certifications are 'free'. If you're absolutely set on becoming a personal trainer for free, find out if you are eligble for a personal trainer apprenticeship

If you’re serious about pursuing a career in personal training, you might want to read this next section on course regulation and accreditation...

Course Regulation & Accreditation Explained

Ofqual is a government-run organisation, it is the sister organisation to Ofsted and is the regulator for NVQ or RQF qualifications in the UK. Ofqual sets the frameworks that all governing bodies, colleges and training providers must adhere to offer 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, to become a fitness instructor, you must complete a level 2 fitness instructor in gym certificate to give it its full title. To become a personal trainer, you must complete a Level 3 personal training course.

See the below graphic to see how the Ofqual structure works for regulated fitness qualifications:

how to become a certified personal trainer for free graphic

As you can see in the screenshot below, none of the courses advertised as offering personal trainer certificate online for free come with an associated level, showing that they are not Ofqual regulated qualifications.

Free personal training course online image

The lack of ‘level’ shows that the cheap personal training courses online do not meet the guidelines set by Ofqual and thus unfortunately, a certificate from this course is not worth more than the piece of paper it is printed on.

If it’s not clear why that is right now, don’t worry! We’ll explain the differences between a free personal training course and a regulated course, and how that impacts your career opportunities, later in this article.

Looking for free personal training courses for unemployed people in the UK? Find out more about Government funded personal trainer courses here.

Awarding Bodies: What They Are and Why You Need Them on Your Certificate 

Cheap level 3 personal training courses image

Awarding bodies, or governing bodies as they are also known, are the companies that act between Ofqual and Colleges or training providers. 

They are called ‘awarding bodies’ as they are responsible for awarding you your qualification, meaning that the awarding body name will be on your personal training certificate.

Here’s an example certificate awarded by Focus Awards

Free Personal Trainer Course Certificate Image

Notice that the certificate has the name of the awarding body clearly displayed, and the Ofqual logo stamped on the bottom left-hand side. 

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

On the other hand, a cheap or free personal trainer certification does not feature a stamp from Ofqual or an awarding body, again making the certificate as about as useful as writing your name on a piece of paper.

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

How to get a personal trainer certification online for fre

Considering you’re here searching something along the lines of ‘how to become a personal trainer online for free’, it's safe to assume you’re fairly serious about this career path! If that is the case, you’ll want to check out these recommended posts:

Regulated Training Providers vs Online PT Courses

Free personal training courses liverpool graphic

In order to ensure that students receive a standard of training that meets the guidelines outlined by Ofqual, colleges and training providers are required to adhere to the policies and procedures set by awarding bodies.

Course regulation via an Ofqual approved awarding body ensures consistency between course providers in terms of quality, knowledge, and the outcome of the course.

This means that regardless of the training provider you study with, a Level 3 PT course with one provider, for example OriGym, will provide the same knowledge, will be around the same level of difficulty, and will qualify for you the same job role as studying with another regulated training provider. 

As free personal trainer qualifications are not regulated by Ofqual, nor do they have an awarding body affiliated to them, they do not offer that same quality assurance.

When it comes to applying for jobs, having a regulated qualification means that an employer can clearly see what level of training you possess, giving them a clear understanding of your knowledge as well the role that you are qualified to do. 

Without a regulated qualification with a clear level attached to it, employers have no way of gaging what you know or what you are trained to do, meaning that your application will not be considered for an interview.


Become an Accredited Personal Trainer!

Through the completion of our Ofqual Regulated PT Diploma 

Course Accreditations: What Are They & Why Are They Important?

Free personal training certification online graphic

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

These course accreditations are stamps of quality control which show employers that the standard of their training meets and surpasses 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 accreditation is absolutely something that employers will look out for, and in some cases, employers will even specify that they are seeking candidates with an accredited Level 3 personal training qualification.

Unfortunately, you will not find a free personal trainer course that has either of these accreditations as these courses do not meet the National Occupational Standards outlined by CIMSPA. 

Even the really cheap online personal training courses on the likes of Reed are rarely accredited, mainly because the cost of accreditation often exceeds the cost of these courses!

This is just one of the reasons why you can not get personal trainer certification free. The cheap or free courses online will not provide you with any value when it comes to working in the fitness industry.

To find out more about why free courses don’t cut it, and what you are paying for when you buy a Level 3 PT course, this article discusses personal trainer course costs in a lot more detail.

If you’re ever in doubt as to whether the form of training within the fitness sector is endorsed by CIMSPA, you can always check their “recognised training” section below.

Still confused about how regulation and accreditation affect your course? We’ve put this graphic together for those more visual learners!

How to become a certified personal trainer for free uk

Do Free Personal Trainer Courses Get You Insurance?

how to become a certified personal trainer for free

Like a lot of professions, personal trainers need insurance. The purpose of personal trainer insurance is not just to protect your clients, it is to protect you, too.

Insurance companies ask PTs to submit their certification prior to approving an application for an insurance policy as your certificate acts as proof that you have undergone the appropriate level of training to fulfill the role of a personal trainer

If you have purchased one of the really cheap or free ‘personal trainer courses’ online, you will not pass the insurance checks. Should you decide to go ahead and train clients without insurance, you will be doing so at your own risk, which can lead to prosecution and even imprisonment if something goes drastically wrong.

Some potential issues that PT insurance protects you from include:  

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

Will Employers Accept A Free Personal Training Certificate?

how to become a personal trainer online for free

Employers, such as National gym chains, private personal training studios, Leisure centres and more, all work closely with the major accreditors and as we mentioned earlier, some will only employ personal trainers that have received training that is CIMSPA endorsed. 

In some cases, courses are even endorsed by both! You can enquire about OriGym’s CIMSPA endorsed Personal Training course here.

See below this 2021 job advert from Nuffield Health, in which they have specified that they are seeking personal trainers with the relevant accreditation:

Level 3 personal trainer course free uk

Seeing as we have already established that free online personal trainer courses are not Level 3 regulated or accredited, it's safe to say that if you get a personal trainer certification for free, you will not even get an interview, let alone the job.

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 that our enrollment team receive: 

Fitness course free image

To enquire with an accredited course provider that qualifies thousands of personal trainers per year, fill in your details below:


Become an Accredited Personal Trainer!

Through the completion of our Ofqual Regulated PT Diploma 

FREE Personal Trainer Courses VS Regulated Personal Trainer Courses

Want to see the real difference between free fitness courses and regulated qualifications that you need to pay for? Check out our comparison table below:

how to become a personal trainer for free image

Considering that free courses can’t even get you a job, never mind insurance, you might be wondering how they can legally be advertised as ‘free personal trainer qualifications‘.

Technically, you could go home now and write a course and call it whatever you like. What you can’t do is assign a “level” next to it. That is why you will never see a Level 3 personal trainer course for free advertised as that would be false advertisement and breach guidelines set by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).

Sometimes a little logic needs to be applied when looking at free courses for gym instructing or personal training. If it is free, who is marking your work? Who is invigilating your 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 

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

Based on price alone, whether that be a personal trainer course online that is free or just extremely cheap, the clue to a course's practicality and worth is right there in front of you. 

Accredited Personal Trainer Course Costs

Level 3 personal trainer course free

By now you’ve probably figured out that to become a legitimate personal trainer, it will cost you money! So, you need to evaluate how much you want to become a personal trainer to start your career in the right way.

Personal Trainer course costs vary depending on a few factors: 

  1. Whether there is Face to Face teaching
  2. How much face to face teaching
  3. The course duration
  4. How you will study the course
  5. The level of accreditations the company has
  6. Number of qualifications in your package
  7. Level of tutor support
  8. Level of support Post Course

You will find that personal trainer course fees vary greatly in the industry, even among fully accredited companies. 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 with comparing courses in terms of cost and quality, see our guide on personal trainer courses compared in which we compare all of the best training providers in the industry.

Before You Go!

The overall conclusion of this article is that if an online personal trainer certification is free or it's so cheap that it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Yes, you can find personal training courses for free, however, will it serve the purpose you wanted it to when you enrolled? In most instances, the answer to ‘how to get certified as a personal trainer for free’ is that you can’t.

If you’re serious about starting a career in personal training, you need to enquire about a regulated online personal training course with a reputable course provider. To find out more about the courses that 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.

Recommended Posts

Download Our Guide to Starting an Online PT Business From Home

Download Our Guide to Starting an Online PT Business From Home