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FREE Personal Trainer Course VS Paid Personal Trainer Courses (2019)

Free Personal Trainer Courses Guide Image

Personal training is one of the most in demand forms of vocational learning in the UK, with both the number of gyms and trainers growing year on year. It is understandable why; personal trainers can earn up to six figure fitness salaries in some instances when setting up a freelance PT business. 

Many people want a quick and preferably cheap route into the market and look for free personal trainer courses, to give them the qualification to enable them to start on this career path. 

But is there such thing as a free personal trainer course?

Technically yes, but practically, no…..let me explain……

You can find cheap or even “free personal trainer courses” if you can call them that, advertised on the likes of or Find Courses for example. These free personal training courses can range from charging you nothing through to £80 for their “personal training course” (the inverted commas are deliberate). Take a look below:

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Or this one.....

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There are literally hundreds of them....

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These types of cheap online personal training courses are great if you simply just want to learn a little more or expand you existing knowledge.

But what is wrong then with completing one of these cheap or free personal trainer courses?

You might want to read this section if you’re serious about a career in personal training…..


Regulated Courses by the Government 

Ofqual is run by the government, it is the sister organisation to Ofsted and is the regulator for NVQ or RQF qualifications in the UK. They set the frameworks that all governing bodies, colleges and training providers must adhere to offer regulated qualifications. Ofqual creates a level structure to 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 instructing in gym certificate to give it its full title.

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

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As you can see from the below screenshot, none of these free gym instructing courses come with a level associated to it, thus you know it is not a regulated qualification:

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None of these cheap or free personal trainer courses online meet the guidelines set by Ofqual and thus unfortunately are not worth their certificates are printed on.

See the difference between a free personal trainer course that is not regulated and one that is and how that impacts you later in this article....

Awarding bodies: What is Printed on Your Certficate with a Free Personal Training Course

Awarding bodies or governing bodies as they are also known are the ones who act between Ofqual, Colleges and training providers. They are called “awarding bodies” as they are the ones that are actually giving you the qualification and have their name on the actual certificate you receive.

Here is one from one of students below awarded by Focus Awards


Free Personal Trainer Course Certificate Image


Notice how the certificate has the name of the awarding body and Ofqual stamped on the bottom left-hand side. These stamps help authenticate the certificate for prospective employers. By contrasting that with the free personal training course free, they have no stamp from any awarding body, again making the certificate as about as useful as printing a piece of paper and writing your name on it! Here are the logos of the major awarding bodies to look out for so you know you have an Ofqual regulated personal trainer course:


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Regulated Colleges & Training Providers vs Online Personal Trainer Courses

Colleges and training providers have to adhere to the policies and procedures that are set by the awarding bodies to ensure you get the training quality that meets both the guidelines outlined by Ofqual and have robust infrastructures to deliver training to the level that passes external verifications. As these free Pt courses are not regulated via Ofqual, they therefore do not have an awarding body affiliated to them, hence normally the “qualification” you receive just has the companies name on it, which will not be sufficient for employers to even consider you for an interview for a personal training role.


Accreditations: Why Accreditation are Essential to Becoming a Personal Trainer

Additionally, to make things a little more complicated you have accreditations. Colleges and Training providers of any reputation will go to external companies that provide accreditations relevant to the course they are offering. These accreditations are stamps of quality control and show employers that the standard of their training meets and surpasses the standards set in the NOS (National occupational standards). Within the fitness sector, there are two major accreditations: 

  • CIMSPA (Chartered Institute of Sport & Physical Activity)
  • REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals)  

Any fitness qualification you decide to pursue you will want to look out for these two logos on companies websites:

Free Level 3 Personal trainer course image

Unfortunately, you will not find any of these free personal trainer courses that have either of these stamps as they do not meet National occupational standards outlined for gyms to employ you. If you’re ever in doubt to whether the form of training within the fitness sector is recognised by CIMSPA and REPs, you can always check their “recognised training” section below:



See below the graphic which breaks all this down for you:


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Do Free Personal Trainer Courses Get You Insurance?

Like most professions, personal trainers must have insurance in order to deliver one to one personal training sessions. Insurance companies ask trainers to submit their certification prior to giving you insurance to ensure that you have undergone the appropriate level of training in order to perform your duties. Insurance is not just to protect you clients, it is to protect you from your clients too. If you have purchased one of those really cheap “personal trainer courses” you will not pass the insurance checks and if you do decide to personal trainer clients, you will be doping so at your own risk, which can lead to prosecution and even imprisonment if something goes drastically wrong such as:

Free Personal Training Course UK Image

See why personal trainer insurance is so key from this article: 


Employers such as National gym chains, private personal training studios, Leisure centres and more, all work with these major accreditations to ensure they only employ personal trainers that have received training that is either or in some cases both REPs and CIMSPA endorsed. See below the 2019 job descriptions from David Lloyds and Nuffield Health where they are requesting personal trainers to have the relevant accreditation in order to work for them:

Personal Trainer Course Free Image

Personal Training Course Free Image

Unfortunately, the free online personal trainer courses that you find can find, will not even get you an interview, let alone a job.

Unfortunately, we get emails like this every week from people have bought a cheap personal trainer course every week, whom struggle to get a job as they do not possess qualifications that match the employer’s needs:


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Enquire with an accredited personal trainer provider that qualify in excess of 5,000 personal trainers per year, fill in your details below:


Become an Accredited Personal Training Course

Become a Qualified Personal Trainer with an Ofqual Regulated Training Provider


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:

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How can they legally call it a personal trainer course then?

Think of it this way, you could go home right now and write a course write now and call it whatever you like. What you can’t do is assign a “level” next to it. That is why you will not see them advertised as “Level 3 Personal Trainer Course” 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 a free gym instructing course or personal training. If it is free, who is marking your work? Who is invidulating your assessments? These aspects all cost money and not many of us work for free.

Additionally, for a Ofqual regulated training provider to operate with the correct endorsements that comes with costs too: 

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I could go on……All these costs need to be accounted for within any college or training providers business plan and is what makes personal training course costs inflate. Just purely based on the price alone whether it’s a free personal trainer course or an extremely cheap one, the clue to its practicality is right there in front of you. 

Accredited Personal Trainer Course Costs

Yes, to become a legitimate personal trainer, it will cost you money! You need to evaluate how much you want to be 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 a variety Personal training course fees around the industry from 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 market place.

When looking at personal training course costs (UK), you need to weigh up these factors to how best suits your learning.

See our guide on personal trainer courses compared to see how to compare one training provider with another.


If something seems to good to be true, it usually is! Yes, free personal trainer courses do exist, however, will it serve the purpose you wanted it to when you enrolled? In most instances, no! If you want to start a career in personal training, go through the proper measures and you will not be disappointed!

You can download our free prospectus to see the range of PT courses that we offer, or check out OriGym's Diploma in Personal Training to find out more! 


Become an Accredited Personal Training Course

Become a Qualified Personal Trainer with an Ofqual Regulated Training Provider

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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