When it comes to becoming a PT, you may have heard that there’s some debate between government funded personal training courses vs non funded options.
Or, you may be under the impression that there’s only non funded options available, and that those could be out of your price range.
Well, OriGym’s comprehensive guide aims to change all that.
In our report, we’ll explore the debate of government funded personal training courses vs non funded personal training courses, and exactly what your options are. Our one-stop-shop article will answer your questions on personal training funding, how and what you’ll pay back, and what’s the right option for you.
- What Is A Government Funded Personal Training Course?
- What Is A Non Funded Personal Training Course?
- How Do I Apply For A Government Funded Personal Training Course?
- How Do Loans Work for Government Funded PT Courses?
- What Are The Advantages of a Government Funded PT Course?
- What Are The Advantages of a Non Funded Personal Training Course?
- What Are The Disadvantages of a Government Funded PT Course?
- What Are The Disadvantages of a Non Funded Personal Training Course?
- Our Conclusions
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What Is A Government Funded Personal Training Course?
PT courses from the government are exactly what you might expect - for those looking to become a personal trainer with government funding, the government will offer to pay for some or all of the costs of your personal training course. This is quite similar to a student loan, in that you’ll be expected to pay as much of it back as you can, based on specific criteria (we’ll get onto those later).
While this may seem quite simple, it’s important to remember that money for a government funded level 3 personal trainer course is always limited, and, depending on the course you’re doing, the loan you receive may not cover the full amount your course costs.
Personal trainer courses funded by the government are available through multiple different channels, and these cover a wide variety of ages, circumstances and eligibility. Let’s explore a few of the options for achieving funding for your government funded personal training courses (UK).
Advanced learner funding is available to those who are over the age of 19 when they start the course. This course must be above a Level 3 or above qualification (so, for instance, a Level 3 personal training diploma (which is necessary to become a personal trainer) up to a Level 6 qualification (for example, an undergraduate degree).
You must also have been a UK resident for at least the last 3 years, and when you first start the course, as well as being a UK national (or having “settled” status, which means there are no restrictions on how long you can stay). There are exceptions to this, but these are the rules that generally apply. We’ve listed a few more potential circumstances where you may be accepted onto the course below:
If you’re still unsure whether or not you’d qualify for this particular method of getting a personal training course funded by the government, the Student Loans Company have a convenient tool that will help you work it out.
However, one major caveat to this method of government funding for your personal training course is that you cannot apply for advanced learning funding if you’ve already used it in the past.
What this means is that, if you’ve already done a postgraduate qualification (such as a PGCE or a Master's degree), you will not be able to reapply for more funding, regardless of what you intend to use it for.
Advanced learner funding is the way many people achieve government funding for personal training courses, amongst many other things. But, if you’re concerned that you can’t apply for this particular form of funding for a government personal trainer, there are other options available.
This is perhaps a little more specialised, in that not all those who apply will be able to use this method of funding for their government funded personal training courses (UK).
LVP (or the Low Value Provision Scheme) was established by the UK government to provide necessary training and skills for those who are looking to get a job in a more niche field, such as personal training. However, there are a few prerequisites before you qualify for the funding.
- You need to have actively sought out employment as a personal trainer (usually through sending your personal trainer CV to gyms in your local area, or visiting fitness centres).
- You need to enquire about pricing for the Level 3 course you want to complete (in this case, it would be personal training).
- Book an appointment with your assigned advisor (the company offering your LVP will have given you a specific advisor to coordinate with) and provide documentation for what you’ve done.
- You’ll then be offered the relevant training if you’re deemed to have done enough to warrant the funding. This usually means you’ve got a demonstrable passion for fitness and exercise.
This is an uncommon option when it comes to government funded PT courses, but it’s best to be aware of all the options, especially when considering a future career. We’d encourage you to check out with providers and gyms in your local area to see if they allow you to pay for your training this way.
Military resettlement is less an option that’s specifically a government funded personal training course, but more of a way to receive money that can be used for a personal training course.
To be eligible for this particular grant, you need to have completed at least 12 years of active military service.
Above, we’ve outlined the main components of the grant below, and exactly how much you’ll receive.
We’ve specifically identified this option as a way for those who have completed active military service to begin a new career in fitness. This is, of course, a very specific option, and one that won’t be suitable for everyone, but it’s important to be aware of.
The government website also offers a search tool for apprenticeships, including apprenticeships in the personal training field.
OriGym’s comprehensive guide to personal training apprenticeships explores this option in much greater detail, as well as how to go about applying to be part of a personal training apprenticeship scheme.
What Is A Non Funded Personal Training Course?
While this may seem self-explanatory, especially as we’ve just looked at government funded personal training courses, it’s important to define exactly what we’ll be covering in this next section.
A non funded personal training course means that you’ll have to fund the full value of the course yourself, without monetary assistance or funding from the government.
Now, at first, this may seem daunting, but it’s important to explore the best personal trainer courses available to you, should you choose to self-fund your course, or you can’t access government PT funding for any reason.
Let’s break it down into sections.
Prices to become a non funded personal trainer can be as high as £3,000, with many providers hovering around the £1500 - £2000 mark. These providers generally offer a complete package, certifying you completely and providing you with all the relevant certifications.
This can seem very, very steep, and honestly, if you had to pay the amount immediately, it would be. However, it’s important to shop around for the best deal and payment plan.
OriGym’s comprehensive personal training courses are not only the market leader in terms of course support (both pre, during, and post course) and TrustPilot reviews (with a rating of 4.9 / 5 and over 650 reviews), but they are also one of the cheapest options available, with prices beginning at as little £1,199 for both a Level 2 and a Level 3 diploma in personal training, and with multiple options for payment plans.
Accreditation is hugely important, too. On any personal training course (whether it’s a pt course from the government, or a non funded personal trainer qualification), there’s certain governing bodies to keep an eye out for.
These usually are REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals) and CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity) accreditation, which are the industry standard for any formal personal training course, alongside international Ofqual (the governing body for qualifications and certifications) recognition.
These qualifications can also be coupled with other accreditations and certifications, meaning you can fully customise your fitness portfolio and become a master personal trainer. Of course, this will cost more, but as we’ll explore, there are options for flexible payment plans.
This is, for good reason, where many people struggle with the idea of paying for a personal training course. Many of us, especially in today’s modern world, simply don’t have hundreds of pounds to outlay at once.
Fortunately, with a majority of training providers, there are flexible payment plans available, and some offer 0% interest so you don’t accrue any nasty surprise costs.
Many companies will allow for changes to payment dates and instalments to be adjusted where necessary. This is standard for the modern era, and as with the overall price, it’s important to look at what’s available.
We’ve compiled a short list of some of the more popular providers (from Google’s search results) of personal training, and how they stack up in terms of overall pricing and customer satisfaction:
However, it’s also important to keep an eye out for any administrative charges or additional fees - some companies will charge for processing or for other hidden fees, and it’s crucial to ensure you don’t get caught out by these traps. Check out our guide to the best personal training courses to learn more about the options out there.
To once again use OriGym as a gold standard for personal training courses, their programs are priced at what they cost, rather than hiding admin charges and adding these on at the checkout. An excerpt from their frequently asked questions section outlines exactly why they offer lower prices and no administrative fees.
“But what about the cheap courses I’ve seen?”
This might be a question you’ve got because you’ve seen advertisements on job posting websites such as Indeed or Reed for personal training “certificates” for less than £50. We’ve put a few examples below:
While these may seem like a great option, and they may offer some good ideas and insights into nutrition and muscle building, they are not formally accredited and therefore will not qualify you for applying for jobs in gyms and fitness centres.
The best idea is to look for the logos that show the company has REPS and CIMSPA accreditations on personal training course websites. Some course providers (such as OriGym) will also have an Ofqual recognition certificate, which means that they’re an official provider of certifications, and have been recognised in an official and international capacity for qualifying professionals in their field (in this case, personal training).
Even fewer training providers will have an ISO9001 certificate - this is a highly regarded industry certification that indicates a company consistently and effectively provides a service, product or training. OriGym is also one of very few personal training providers worldwide that has this certification.
How Do I Apply For A Government Funded Personal Training Course?
We’ve now explored all the options for both non funded and government funded personal training courses, so it’s now time to explore just how you apply for these courses.
The process can be a lengthy procedure, but as long as you have everything you need (don’t worry, we’ll outline anything you’ll have to have with you), you can easily apply for your government PT funding in less than an hour.
In fact, you may have already done something similar if you’ve completed an undergraduate course or applied for EMA, so this should be a breeze!
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As we’ve previously mentioned, an Advanced Learner Loan is one of the more readily available forms of government funding. This is the funding stream that the vast majority of students studying in higher education have used, and is also one of the easiest forms of funding to apply for.
Let’s look closely at the steps you’ll need to take to apply for this form of government funding for your personal training course:
Step #1 - Check With Your Training Provider
First, it’s first important to check whether or not the training provider you’ve chosen offers government funding for their personal training courses. Many providers won’t offer government PT funding as an option - there are multiple reasons for this (such as infrequent or delayed payments), but this is definitely an area to be aware of.
To help you make the right decision for your current circumstances, we did some research into the options for government funded personal training courses, and found a couple of different options available.
FitAsylum is one of the primary options if you’re looking for a government funded PT course (UK). They’ve partnered with the UK government as one of the few providers that accept the advanced learning loans.
However, they do have multiple stipulations when it comes to applying for an advanced learning loan to cover your personal training course. While these are generally applicable to most applications for government funding, it’s important to be aware of what these restrictions are:
- You must be over the age of 19 at the start of your course
- You must be undertaking a course at Level 3 or above (which is covered by your personal training diploma)
- You must be undertaking an eligible course at Level 3 or above (such as a Level 3 personal training course)
These courses are also subject to availability (in the sense that they begin on specific dates) and places being available on the course, meaning they can fill up very quickly, so it’s important to be quick with your decision!
You may opt for YMCAFit when considering your options for a government funded personal training course, and it’s a good choice, but does come with many of the same criteria as the aforementioned FitAsylum option.
This option also specifically states that you must not be doing a course at Level 3 or above if you’re over the age of 24 when you start the course. Again, this is more of an overarching rule for all advanced learner loans, so it’s imperative that you’re aware of this before you start your application.
However, one area to be specifically aware of if you choose to use YMCAFit is that they have a compulsory deposit of between £125 and £375 in order to secure your place on the course. This will be requested before you receive your letter, but will be refunded fully after you’re enrolled on the course.
Step #2 - Request A “Learning and Funding” Information Letter
Next, you need to request a “learning and funding” letter.
This is a step that you may not have considered, but one that’s crucial to undertake. Most training providers (including YMCAFit and FitAsylum) will provide this as part of your application process, but it’s important to be aware that this is something you need to submit in order to receive your funding.
Step #3 - Apply Online or By Post
Finally, you need to complete the application online or via the post. To do this online, you’ll need a Student Finance account, which you’re given the option to create before starting the process.
To apply via post, you’ll need to telephone Student Finance (freephone on 0300 100 0607), and request forms to apply for an Advanced Learner Loan.
Applying for your Advanced Learner Loan usually takes around 20 - 30 minutes, and you may need some important information to hand in order to streamline the application process. We’d recommend having:
- Your National Insurance number - if you don’t have one of these, you can still apply, but you will need one so your loan can be paid to your training provider. You’ll be prompted to go through the process to get a N.I. number if you don’t have one.
- Your passport (this will be used as a form of identification)
- Your address & contact details
- Your training provider’s address details (so, if you’ve opted to go with FitAsylum, you’d give their address)
- Details of what you’ll be studying (e.g. Level 3 Personal Training Diploma)
- The total amount this course costs (these details will be in the letter you received before applying)
- Alternative contact details (in case you move, but don’t inform them)
You’ll then receive confirmation of your course through the post in around 2 weeks, or longer if you opt to complete the application by post.
You can then start to plan for your future career - OriGym’s handy personal training business checklist has every step along the way!
As we outlined above, the government created the LVP scheme to provide for those who are unemployed or out of work, and require skills to be able to get a job in their chosen industry.
Now, because of the niche nature of this form of government funding, there are very limited options when it comes to finding a training provider who will accept this as a form of funding.
The crucial thing to remember about this particular stream of funding is that it’s assessed on a case-by-case basis. This means that your assessors will look at not only your skills, but other factors, such as how long you’ve been in receipt of benefits, and what transferable skills you have from previous employment.
Many companies that use the LVP scheme stipulate you need to have a vested interest in what you’re applying for (so, for instance, if you’re applying for a personal training job, you would need to be passionate about exercises and fitness), and this needs to be well demonstrated to ensure you’re the ideal candidate for the funding.
Some tips on this include:
- Registering your interest and submitting your personal trainer CV to local gyms
- Research pricing for companies that offer personal training courses
- Ensuring you have a good knowledge of exercise, nutrition and fitness
If this does sound like an option that would fit your personal circumstances, we’d recommend checking websites for gyms in your local area to check whether they offer this option for government funded personal training courses.
Military Resettlement Grant
This is an option only available to those who have completed at least 12 years of active military service. As we mentioned earlier in this article, this is another niche option, but this is definitely one to be aware of, especially if you’ve left the armed forces, and want to seek employment in the fitness industry.
The government guidance on this is comprehensive, and covers exactly how much you’ll receive, as well as what happens should you decide to rejoin the military.
OriGym’s thorough and well-researched guide to personal training apprenticeships breaks down, in detail, everything you need to know about applying for, undertaking, and succeeding in an apprenticeship as a PT.
How Do Loans Work For Government Funded Personal Training Courses?
Once you’ve been approved for your choice of government funding, how exactly do they work?
Well, our next section will break down exactly how government loans work, and when you can expect to start paying them back.
Advanced Learner Loans
An advanced learner loan can be up to the whole value of your course, down to as little as £300. This is paid straight to your course provider (so, going back to our previous section, you may have chosen YMCAFit or FitAsylum), and you can focus on your course.
However, this loan does need to be paid back at some point, but there are certain criteria that need to be met first.
Firstly, you’ll only start to pay back your course from the start of the next financial year, or the April after you complete your course. So, if you complete your course in July, then your first repayment will be in April.
This section from the government literature explores exactly how much you’ll be paying, and when you can expect to pay it:
The key points here are:
- You’ll only start to repay when you start to earn more than £26,575 per year (our exploration of fitness instructor salaries goes into much more detail on what you’ll be earning)
- You’ll only pay 9% of the amount you earn over £26,575
- What this means is that if you earn £30,000 a year, then 9% of the difference between that amount and £26,575 (in this case, £3,425) will be paid towards your loan (£308.25 over the course of a year, which equates to approximately £25 a month)
- If your income changes (either an increase or decrease), then your repayments will change to reflect that
- Repayments are not based on how much you’ve borrowed, just how much you are earning
- So, the repayments will be the same if you borrowed the minimum amount (£300) or the full amount for your course
Unfortunately though, government loans do accrue interest. This is measured using the Retail Price Index (the RPI), which is calculated by the National Office of Statistics, plus a specific amount that’s dependent on your earnings. The table below shows the exact figures you’ll be repaying.
Low Value Provision
You do not need to repay Low Value Provision as this is a skills-based initiative designed to get you into the industry you are passionate about.
However, one of the major caveats with this form of government funding is that it is entirely done on a case-by-case basis, and as such can take a long time to be approved.
Once you’ve finished this guide, you might find these articles useful:
- Types of Professional Development for Personal Trainers
- Starting A Personal Training Business Checklist
- How Much Does It Cost To Become A Personal Trainer?
What Are The Advantages Of Government Funded Personal Training Courses?
#1 - No Payment Needed
One of the major advantages of government funded PT courses vs non funded is that they usually don’t require any payment up front (with the exception of the refundable deposit for YMCAFit), nor do you need to pay anything over the course of your training.
A government funded personal training course means you can begin to pursue your passion without worrying about any deposits or payments that are necessary to get started.
It also ensures that you don’t need to be preoccupied with your next payment when you’re completing your course, and can instead focus on giving it your all!
#2 - Smaller Repayments
Another huge benefit of government funded personal training courses is that they have much smaller repayments that begin later, and that are only deducted when you pass a certain threshold in your pay.
If we take some of the data from the government guidance we looked at in an earlier section of this article, even if you’re earning £30,000 a year, you’ll only be paying £25 a month, which is significantly less than a great many non funded PT courses, meaning you’ve got more money to pick up some essential personal training equipment.
#3 - Not Dependent On Credit History
A government loan doesn’t undertake credit checks or look at your financial history, meaning these cannot factor into their decision to give you funding to achieve your personal training goals.
This is perhaps one of the most important advantages for those who want to get into personal training, but are worried that their credit history will negatively impact their chances. Many personal training companies will perform checks as part of their agreements, and this can be an issue for some people.
A government funded PT course (UK) might be the only option for some, too - those with no credit history, or those who have missed repayments on loans or credit agreements in the past, may struggle to join a non funded personal training course.
This is all dependent on the personal training provider you choose, though - let’s look at some of the advantages of non funded personal training courses now!
What Are The Advantages Of A Non Funded Personal Training Course?
#1 - Increased Choice
As we’ve already examined, there are only a few options available for government funded personal training courses, and these can be quite restrictive. They may only operate in gyms that aren’t in your local area, at times that don’t suit you, and it can be a challenge to find government funded PT courses with online components.
This is where non funded PT courses perhaps have the advantage, as you’re free to choose the provider that best suits your needs.
If you’re the sort of person that works much better at your own pace and in your home environment, then there’s an option for you (our insight into how to become an online personal trainer has all the guidance you could ever need).
If you’re trying to squeeze your personal training course around other commitments, then many providers offer both part- and full-time options for completion.
With so much choice available, this adaptability makes non funded personal training courses a great option for those who emphasise and value flexibility in their learning experience.
#2 - Controllable Payments
One of the more subtle advantages of non funded personal training courses is that they allow you to have much more control over your payments, and how you choose to pay for your chosen course.
Take OriGym’s REPS and CIMSPA accredited Level 3 personal training course, for instance.
Not only will you not accrue any interest, but you’re also able to customise how you pay, and how much you pay with each payment. Their flexibility when it comes to money means that they are the gold standard for personal training courses, and many have followed suit with payment plans such as the one above.
Another key bit of information to note is that there are no hidden fees for certification or exams, which unfortunately many other providers do. OriGym’s attitude towards fitness is accessibility and openness, which sets them apart from the bulk of the competition.
#3 - Unrivalled Support
Now, this may be a contentious point, especially as there are certain government funded personal training courses online that will offer support (such as FitAsylum, which we looked at earlier).
However, as you have much more freedom in terms of choice when it comes to non funded personal training options, it’s definitely important to consider.
When we say “support”, what we mean is that there are people on hand to help you with any queries, worries or concerns you may have when it comes to your personal training course.
So, in a similar way to how we look at costs, let’s look at what kind of support you receive when you’re undertaking your choice of non funded personal training course:
While most providers will offer an eLearning Platform, coupled with online support, our research shows that this seems to be the standard for all personal training courses. With many people demanding 24 hour availability, it makes sense that many training providers would go online with their packages.
However, in terms of support beyond online, and indeed beyond the end of the course, OriGym’s unmatched offering is clearly the pinnacle of course and career support.
They supplement their course support with post-course assistance too, guaranteeing interviews at a variety of fitness centres, and providing guidance even once you’ve secured employment, on everything from routines to how to get personal trainer clients.
And with an industry-leading 92% post-course employment rate (check out their FAQ section), they have an incredible track record!
#4 - Quicker Qualifications
With a government funded personal training program, you unfortunately don’t get to choose the speed at which you qualify. While these courses can be a great option as we’ve just discussed, they aren’t ideal for someone who wants to be ready to train as soon as possible.
However, with a non funded personal training program, many providers offer you the option to choose a qualification time that suits you. Take OriGym’s Level 3 personal training diploma, for instance.
Completing the course full time (Monday to Friday) can take as little as 4 weeks, with options available for part time (an average of 8 weeks to qualify fully) or online (an average of 12 weeks to qualify fully).
Now, these timeframes can seem a little short, but these have been industry tested and proven to be the ideal amount of time to fully qualify, and absorb all of the course content, as well as becoming familiar with the ins and outs of being a personal trainer (such as how to best help your client base, and how to plan for routines).
#5 - Fewer Entry Requirements
Our final advantage of non funded personal training courses is that they generally have little to no entry requirements. This means that, provided you’ve got a passion for exercise, you can get started right away!
With OriGym’s comprehensive personal training diploma, you can apply for a personal training course at as young as 16, provided you’re clearly enthusiastic about getting a job in the exercise industry. Plus, there are no prerequisites in terms of educational qualifications, so even if you’re not academically minded, you can still get a career in a field you’re passionate about!
What Are The Disadvantages Of Government Funded Personal Training Courses?
#1 - No Flexibility
As we mentioned in our section on the benefits of non funded personal training programs, flexibility is an area where government funded personal training courses lack.
Because of the limited options available, this impacts the flexibility and the range of options available to you. So, for instance, if you’d prefer to complete your government funded personal training course online rather than in person, this is unlikely to be something that’s on offer.
Whereas with non funded options such as OriGym, there are a range of options to suit all schedules and preferences!
#2 - No Control Over Repayments
This is perhaps the biggest downside to government funded personal training courses - they don’t give you the same control over your repayments as a non funded personal training course does.
While there are some elements of control, in that you can choose to pay off your loan early, this is a more difficult option, and one that is not as easily accessible as other, non funded options are.
There’s also the question of additional interest that’s charged as soon as you start your government funded personal training course - government loans continue to accumulate interest even if you can’t afford to pay them back.
#3 - Not Applicable To All
While they are a good option for a lot of people, government funded personal training courses are not always available to everyone.
For instance, you won’t be able to get an advanced learner loan if you’ve already completed a postgraduate course (such as a PGCE or Master’s degree), which can be a huge stumbling block if you’re looking for a career change. Or, if you’ve completed a MA in Sports Science or a related field and want to put your expertise to good use, but can’t afford the course fees for a non funded personal training course.
Or, if you feel as though the LVP scheme is the ideal option for you, you’ll still need to provide evidence of your attempts to get a job, and this is still then subject to approval, which means it can be very difficult to be approved.
With only limited options available, and even these only applicable to specific people, government funded personal training courses aren’t always ideal.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Non Funded Personal Training Course?
#1 - Can Be Costly
As we saw with the table in our section on what your options are for a non funded personal training course, there are some options for non-funded PT courses that can be hugely expensive.
This doesn't take into account the often pricey administrative fees and exam costs, which are all added onto your bill after you’ve opted for your training provider.
With some PT providers charging upwards of £1800, it’s important to find a provider that has an affordable price (with all costs included) but that still provides a complete package.
This is perhaps where OriGym presents itself as the clearest choice. With a price of £1,199 (which is the lowest among its closest competitors) for a Level 2 and 3 Personal Training Diploma, as well as zero administrative or additional fees, they still provide a stellar quality service, with constant support, professionally qualified instructors and advisors, and unlimited support.
#2 - Can Be Subject To Credit Checks
Some personal training providers will take out compulsory credit checks, which can be an issue if you’ve been refused credit services (such as a credit card or a finance plan) in the past.
This isn’t necessarily true of all personal training course providers, but it’s vital that you’re aware, especially if you’re concerned about being declined because of past issues with money.
When you’ve chosen your course provider, check their website or ring them to see if they do run credit checks so you’re not caught off guard.
Before You Go!
As you might imagine, we’re passionate about personal training, and whether you opt for a government funded personal training course or a non funded option, our sincere hope is that you enjoy your new career in fitness.
We’re confident in what we offer here at OriGym, but it’s hugely important to find what’s right for you, your budget, and the time you have available.
But, if you’ve got your heart set on having the best possible fitness experience, then OriGym’s flagship personal training courses are the ideal option. Unparalleled flexibility, exceptional career and course support, and affordable prices - what more could you ask for?
Plus dozens of other features and perks - check out our full course prospectus to learn more!
What's it really like?
Download Our "Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer" Guide
What's it really like?