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What Qualifications Do I Need to Teach Circuit Training? (UK)

what qualifications do I need to teach circuit training

If you’re wondering “what qualifications do I need to teach circuit training?” we’ve broken it all down for you in this article!

Whether you’re at the start of your career, or looking to develop a new niche, our guide will tell you everything you need to know to become a qualified circuit instructor, covering:

Before we start, if you’re not qualified yet, the best place to start is with OriGym’s accredited diploma in personal training.

For more information, and for details of the other health and fitness qualifications that we offer, download and browse our course prospectus!

What Does a Circuit Instructor Do?

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Before we can explain what qualifications you need to become a circuit instructor, we need to establish that there are two main capacities in which you can be a circuit instructor:

  • Teaching group classes
  • Teaching one-to-one

The qualifications you need will depend on which of the above options you want to do. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from teaching classes and running 1-1 circuit training sessions, too - but more on that soon.

As you might expect, a circuit trainer who teaches group classes will plan, set-up, and deliver a session to a group of individuals. 

Groups can be made up of anywhere between 5 and 20+ individuals who rotate between ‘stations’, performing various exercises.

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Group classes can take place in a variety of settings or venues, including:

  • Gyms
  • Leisure centres
  • Outdoors
  • As part of a bootcamp

On the other hand, a circuit trainer who holds a personal training qualification can run 1-1 circuit training sessions that are tailored to an individual's exercise goals.

They work for a gym or independently with private clients, helping them to achieve goals such as maintaining weight loss, increasing stamina, or developing strength.

Since the main focus of circuit training is performing multiple exercises and using a range of equipment within a single session, this is a popular workout for groups.

However, delivering sessions that are tailored to an individual client is both beneficial for the trainer, since they can charge more, but also for the client, as they’ll see more significant results.

 

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What Qualifications Do I Need to Teach Circuit Training?

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With the above points in mind, here are the qualifications that you will need to pursue a career as a circuit trainer.

Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing

Regardless of whether you want to run group classes or 1-1 sessions, the most important qualification you need will be a Level 2 in Gym Instructing

This will form the foundation of any further qualifications or specialisations, and is an essential certification for anybody who wants to start a career in the fitness industry.

The course is about as difficult as a GCSE, which means that passing your level 2 fitness instructor exams and becoming a qualified circuit trainer is very much an attainable goal. 

By studying this course with OriGym, you’ll have the option of studying:

  • Online 
  • Part-time
  • Full-time 

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If you’re eager to start your career as a fitness instructor, studying full-time is likely your best option. This study method requires you to attend a training centre Monday - Friday for 2 full weeks, and involves learning in a classroom-like environment.

Provided you pass each of your assessments, you can gain your level 2 qualification in just two weeks by choosing this option.

If you can’t commit to full-time learning, studying online allows for complete flexibility. With this course you can learn remotely at your own pace. There are no deadlines or set exam dates, which means how long you take to complete the course is completely up to you!

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On average, OriGym’s online students take around 8 weeks to get qualified.

Part-time learning involves elements of online study and practical learning during workshops. Part-time students have the same flexibility as online students whilst benefiting from face-to-face learning during workshops, and take an average of 6 weeks to get qualified.

Whichever study method you choose, you’ll complete the course with a basic understanding of fitness and teaching in a gym environment, and knowledge on topics such as: 

  • Motivating groups and individuals 
  • Health and safety in a fitness environment 
  • Planning gym based exercise

Whilst you will be qualified to teach circuit training classes to groups of various sizes, you are limited in what you can do with this qualification alone.

Though a level 2 course is a great starting point, going on to complete a Level 3 course in Personal Training is often necessary, even if you’re only interested in running group classes.

Having a level 3 qualification is now a stipulation for working in most reputable gyms, regardless of  the role you want to apply for, which means that you might find that you struggle to find a job with a level 2 certificate alone.

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As you can see, Pure Gym are advertising a Gym Instructor position, and one of the prerequisites for working with them is to at least be working towards a Level 3 qualification.

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PureGym does offer circuit training classes so you'd be doing this as part of your role! However, you would need to be qualified as a personal trainer to be eligible to apply.

This is the case at Anytime Fitness, too. They also want you to have at least a Level 3 qualification, with CPD qualifications as an added bonus.

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In order to teach classes like circuit training, HIIT, and spin, you’ll be expected to at least have a solid foundation of Level 3. As you can see, this will give you the edge when applying for positions.

Circuit Training CPD

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In addition to the above mandatory qualification, a CPD in circuit training specifically will increase and cement your skills in this area.

As part of this course you’ll learn:

  • Circuit training health and safety
  • Circuit training styles
  • Circuit training session planning

This ends with a 90 minute long observational assessment where you’ll have to demonstrate your knowledge by planning, and executing, a circuit training session.

Showing you can be engaging, fun, safe, and effective will be part of passing our course and showing your newly developed skills!

Having this specific qualification, will increase your credibility. If you ask somebody:

What qualifications do I need to teach circuit training?,

Most people, especially those without detailed knowledge of the fitness industry, will answer:

A qualification in circuit training

Being able to advertise that you are qualified, in this specific area, will help when you’re marketing yourself as a personal trainer.

People will be much more likely to come to you for this style of training if you’ve got the explicit expertise. 

With these courses you’ll know how to become a circuit trainer in any environment, with a huge variety of different clients.

Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training

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Completing a level 3 personal training qualification isn’t only beneficial when it comes to seeking employment within a gym, but it also benefits you financially.

Becoming a qualified personal trainer qualifies you to design tailored programmes for people with specific goals. This allows you to charge more, since you’re offering more of a tailored service.

Offering 1-1 sessions also allows you to expand your client base by catering for individuals who enjoy circuit training but don’t feel comfortable attending group classes or find that they see better results from 1-1 sessions.

Like Level 2, OriGym’s Level 3 course has three options:

  • Online 
  • Part-time
  • Full-time 

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With the online option, as we’ve mentioned, you’re at leisure to fit it in around your schedule. On average the course takes 10 weeks to complete from home but there’s no rules regarding this time limit.

As part of the course you’ll be provided with additional resources to help you including:

  • Our bespoke E-Learning Platform
  • Online lectures
  • E-Books
  • Video guides
  • Interactive quizzes

The exams and assessments for this course are, like Level 2, without rigid dates or times. You can complete them as it suits you!

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Your assessments include:

  • A multiple choice open book online exam on anatomy and physiology - 90% pass
  • Multiple choice open book online paper on the application of nutrition - 90% pass mark required
  • Coursework on programming with clients, learning SMART goals, screening clients, and progressive overview - Pass required

Part-time equally takes, on average, 6 weeks to qualify through a blended learning experience. Just like Level 2 you’ll have the convenience of online combined with valuable in person teaching from our workshops.

Full-time alternatively is your best option if you want to fast track your career. This is ideal if you’re looking to advance from instructing.

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Working intensively, over 2 weeks, will mean you can boost your income and your expertise as quickly as possible!

With a personal training qualification you can offer 1-1 or group circuit training sessions in the following capacities:

If you don’t already hold either your level 2 or level 3 qualifications, it’s worth considering completing a personal training diploma with OriGym. This diploma includes both qualifications and is actually cheaper than buying each course separately.

It’s important to note that any qualification you do must be regulated by Ofqual, so look out for the following logo on your course providers website:

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Without Ofqual regulation, your qualifications won’t be recognised by employers, and you’ll struggle to get insurance, too. 

You can learn more about why unregulated or free personal trainer courses aren’t worth it here.

Your Salary Once You've Become a Circuit Instructor

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The most important thing to consider when discussing salary is that there’s a huge number of variables that will affect how much you’ll earn as a circuit instructor, such as:

  • Whether you’re level 2 or level 3 qualified
  • Where you work (and who your clients are!)
  • Whether you’re employed, freelance, or run your own business

Being a circuit trainer is a pretty specific fitness niche, which also makes it hard to resolutely pin down an exact figure for an ‘average’ salary. 

However, we can look at what sort of income you can expect from a group exercise instructor as many of the roles within this are similar to those of a circuit trainer.

According to payscale, group fitness instructors in the UK earn an average of £11.79 per hour, with rates ranging from around £7 to £15, depending on the factors outlined above.

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According to Glassdoor the average group fitness instructor salary is £23,559. However, this can be much higher based on experience.

These averages can be slightly distorted as they’re only based on the positions that have been uploaded to the site, and therefore don’t consider:

  • Bonuses made on top of your salary
  • Freelance earnings 
  • How much you would earn if you started your own business

For instance, whilst the statistics above suggest that group instructors make around £23,559 per year, you could easily earn more than this by teaching fitness classes in a community leisure centre.

For example, if you were to charge £5 per class and ten people turn up, that’s £50 you’re making just per class. 

If you could keep this up for 10 classes per week, you’d earn £26,000 a year. Of course, you would have to deduct the costs of renting the venue and buying or renting any equipment from your profit.

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Another factor to consider is location. Like all of the other average salaries in the UK, wages in London will be significantly higher to reflect the heightened cost of living.

However, location can affect wages even outside of London, for instance, depending on the level of demand in an area. 

Say there’s nobody doing circuit training classes outdoors, catering to this gap in the market would mean you could charge higher since there wouldn't be any competition.

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As we touched on earlier, having a level 3 qualification as a circuit trainer means that you have much more knowledge and qualifies you to tailor specific training programmes for individuals and their needs.

It's not surprising that statistics show just how much more profitable it is to be qualified as a personal trainer vs a fitness instructor. A PT earns between £26,000 and £27,000 on average, according to Indeed:

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The main difference to consider is that with higher expertise and level of qualification, you will be in higher demand and able to charge more. As we demonstrated earlier in this article, you’ll have a better chance of gaining employment with a level 3 qualification, too.

However, much like group class or fitness instructing, the average personal trainer salary reported on sites like Indeed can be misleading. 

In fact, we could go as far as saying they’re even more inaccurate for those who are Level 3 qualified, since working on a freelance or independent basis is much more possible with these skills and qualifications to vouch for your expertise.

 

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For example, you might decide to run outdoor sessions 1-to-1, during the summer months, alongside your work in a gym.

You can charge individually or have people sign up for a set amount of sessions over a month. 

If you charge £50 for a month’s worth of sessions, if you even secure 10 people to sign up for these programmes, over three months in summer, that’s an extra £1,500 per year! 

Not to mention that by offering a personal trainer specialty as specific as circuit training, you could justify charging more than the average PT!

Where Can I Work Once I Become a Circuit Instructor?

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Once you’ve got the right qualifications, you’ll have to consider what environment you want to work in. Where you can work, and what you can do, will all depend on which qualifications you have.

The main decision you’ll have to make is whether you’ll be freelance or working for somebody else.

Working for a Gym

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Your first option is working in a gym. How you’ll be paid, and what kind of role you perform in the gym, as we’ve said, will depend on your qualifications.

If you become a fitness instructor, teaching circuit training classes in a gym, this will have to be alongside other duties and your income will be limited.

Said duties will include health and safety maintenance such as:

  • Cleaning equipment
  • Reporting any faults or risks
  • Ensuring equipment is put away properly

You will also be expected to do gym inductions and even fulfil some administrative duties. These could include:

  • Ensuring membership fees are paid
  • Posting and promoting on social media 
  • Organising membership paperwork

When you work as a personal trainer you’re not limited to working in a gym but you can do this salaried, freelance, or work independently!

Some of the benefits of personal training in a gym is the stability of a salaried option. Especially whilst you’re starting out, you will have a steady income whilst you build a client base.

You will build a client base a lot quicker, too, if you’re working out of a particular facility and can build a rapport with people.

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However, if you want to offer circuit programmes exclusively you are ultimately limited in a gym. 

This is because all of your clients will be members of the gym, with holistic goals, so it will be harder to stick to circuit training solely.

It will also be harder to pursue and develop a speciality when you’ve got your other duties to fulfil and more varied expectations of clients to manage.

You will also have targets when you’re working in a gym. You’ll be expected to train a certain amount of people over a particular period.

If you want to become a circuit trainer specifically, you’ll need to have the freedom to be selective with your clients and choose people whose goals align with this specialism, which won’t necessarily be possible if you have a target to meet by the end of the month.

 

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Working as a Freelancer 

Working as a freelancer is one of the most lucrative options in terms of where you can work as a circuit trainer.

As a freelancer, you will earn a fixed hourly rate to teach classes within a gym or leisure club.

The average hourly rate for freelance group class instructors is typically higher than that of instructors employed at a gym, with freelance opportunities advertised on indeed offering upto £30 an hour.

As mentioned when we discussed average salaries, group class instructors who are employed by a gym earn as little as £7 per hour, so you can see just how much higher your earning potential is a freelancer.

There are plenty of other perks of working on this basis, such as:

  • Not having to buy your own equipment
  • A flexible schedule (you can choose how many hours you do)
  • The ability to work at multiple gyms

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Generally speaking, working on a freelance basis can be a great way to save money as you grow your reputation and, potentially, your business.You can teach classes at multiple gyms in your area, maximising the number of individuals you meet and as a result, building your reputation.

If you commit yourself to building these relationships whilst freelancing for gyms, you’ll easily be able to build up a solid list of clients who would come to your own classes if you were to start your own business, such as a bootcamp.

Starting Your Own Business

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Your other option is starting your own personal training business, and becoming a circuit trainer that works independently.

This career path has the highest earning potential as you’ll be in complete control of the finances and identity of the company.

If you want to become a circuit instructor, and specialise in circuit training specifically, then you can create a bespoke programme increasing your demand and market.

You won’t have as many limits on hours and you will be able to dictate what you charge. Increased demand, and a more specific niche, means you can charge more and potentially get more clients.

You’ll also have to know how to get as many PT clients as possible. There’s several ways you can do this including:

This will also involve some big initial costs for equipment, renting a space, and getting registered and insured.

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There are also added responsibilities such as:

  • Doing your own taxes
  • Setting up national insurance contributions
  • Ensuring health and safety and insurance

In terms of venue there’s several options here too. If you start your own business you can either be:

  • Mobile
  • Strictly outdoors
  • Rent a facility
  • Start your own gym 

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If you’re working outdoors, you could run sessions alongside standard PT sessions. With the right combination of qualifications, you open yourself to doing a broad variety of roles.

This means potentially tripling your earnings by teaching individuals, classes, and even going mobile and travelling to different outdoor areas or people’s homes. 

James Pittam is a great example of how successful you can be as a circuit trainer. He had a career in The Royal Marines, that took him worldwide, before creating his own fitness brand.

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He’s now won awards for his programmes and travels across the country combining the rigour of his Commando training with wellness treatments such as sports massage and counselling.

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This shows how lucrative circuit training is because of its reputation and use by the military. This lends it heaps of credibility to attract people with a huge range of goals.

If you’re particularly interested in the military influence, and the reliability it lends to this style of training, we discuss this further when we look at bootcamp training!

The flip side of this is that you might be more concerned with stability, when you’re starting out, and so the job security when working a gym might be what’s best for you.

 

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Each of these will have nuanced differences so make sure to do some thorough research into:

All of this is to be considered whether you work in a gym or for yourself. You’ll need to market yourself and attract as many clients as possible if you’re going to make the most of your qualification!

How to Maximise Your Income as a Circuit Instructor

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There’s several ways you can ensure you’re making as much money as possible when you become a circuit instructor.

You’ll need to remember some key things so that you’re utilising your time, resources, and increasing your income!

Supplement Circuit Training Services With Standard Personal Training

Like we said earlier, if you choose to work freelance, or work in a gym part time, you can combine these roles, offering personal training sessions alongside your circuit training services.

Whilst you’re becoming a circuit trainer, working independently and building your business, you can network with clients and have a more stable stream of revenue from standard PT sessions.

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As you may already know, one of the main benefits of circuit training is that it’s super effective for fat burning and weight loss.

This is one of the most common fitness goals for PT clients so, by combining these skills, you’ll be boosting your revenue and popularity.

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This is something that KOREFITNESS has executed really well. They’ve established themselves as the go-to place for circuit classes whilst generating a solid income from their additional personal training revenue.

Because circuit training isn’t just versatile in terms of ability, but goals too, it can be shaped to meet these individual needs from a variety of clients. 

You can incorporate circuit training into programmes for:

  • Weight loss/Fat loss
  • Conditioning
  • Muscular endurance/strength 

This way you can promote the diversity of circuit training and gain a wide range of clients with different needs.

Offer Circuit Training Classes & 1-1 Programmes

You don’t have to choose between doing classes or working 1-1. As we’ve already shown, there are several ways you can work that combine both. 

By teaching circuit classes as well as creating 1-1 circuit programmes for individual clients, you can double your revenue streams. 

There’s several ways you can enhance your career with each of these options too. Just like with clients, the fact that circuit training is so scaleable can increase your potential income.

Just as you’ll be working with personal training clients of different abilities, there’s nothing stopping you from having different classes based on ability too.

This means you can increase the services you offer, train a wider pool of people, and cater circuit instructing to a variety of demographics.

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You could design programmes like Raff PT, who offers circuit classes for individuals to do with a partner, as part of a group, or on their own!

This way you’re maximising your client base within your niche making sure you’re not limited by the preferences or abilities of potential clients.

Starting a Boot Camp Business

If you’re interested in starting your own fitness boot camp business, and working as a circuit trainer that way, you’ll be tapping into an increasingly popular market.

These are especially popular for weight and fat loss as people often want rapid, intense results. Circuit training is ideal for that because, as we mentioned earlier, the intensity can be scaled and made incrementally more difficult.

If you’re a personal trainer doing this you’ll be able to give holistic nutritional advice, alongside bespoke programmes, and you’ll be training with groups too!

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So what exactly is a boot camp?

A lot of them are based on military style training and they tend to consist of short, intensive training that incorporates things like obstacles, HIIT, and circuits.

Plenty of these boot camps involve circuits because of the intensity and adaptability. For example, Battle Bootcamp offers outdoor classes, in a variety of locations, using a wide range of different exercises. 

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Battle Bootcamp’s motto is “military led, community driven”, which combines the rigour of military training and the outdoor spaces they use.

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Even though this may seem like a very specific niche, there’s plenty of movement within it to find your own lucrative area.

For instance, the popularity of circuits in military training means that you could even specialise in training people who want to join the army and are preparing for these exams.

Though this would, of course, involve a lot of personal research, it’s just one of the ways that you could find a gap in the market and become the most in demand trainer in that field, for a particular area.

You could also design a bootcamp that runs at a particular time of year, and combine it with other personal trainer specialities.

Go Online

You could also progress your career and increase your income by taking your circuit training business online.

Starting an online business removes any location-related barriers, allowing you to access a new pool of clients and in turn, make more money!

This is something that Carolines’ Circuits has executed brilliantly, by offering live circuit classes via Zoom.

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As you can see, she is selling access to live sessions and recorded classes as part of a package costing £35 per month.

Structuring her business in this way means that she can have an unlimited number of clients sign up and attend her classes, all without her having to increase the number of classes that she physically teaches.

There’s nothing to say that Caroline doesn’t have 150 clients signed up paying £35 each month, generating a revenue of over 60k a year.

She also offers personal training alongside her classes, essentially implementing our ‘Supplement Circuit Training Services With Standard Personal Training’ strategy but in an online format!

Offer The Full Package!

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If you can offer nutritional advice as well as circuit training, the client doesn’t need to go anywhere else! Though all personal trainers can give holistic nutritional advice, you’ll need a qualification to design a bespoke meal plan that is based on a clients exercise goals.

By getting a Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition qualification, you’ll be able to offer packages that give your clients the best chance of achieving their goals. 

This is especially important considering when you become a circuit instructor you’ll have clients with goals such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Weight management
  • Hypertrophy

Your circuit programmes will be even more bespoke and in demand if you can combine it with a fully individualised fitness plan, including meal plans and longer term health goals.

Because of all of this, you’ll be able to charge more for the extent of your services. With a more in-depth plan like this, too, you’ll be keeping clients for longer, increasing your income!

Sarah O’Neill is testament to this. Looking at her packages you can see how much you can charge for nutritional services.

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The main difference between these packages is the addition of nutritional advice, nearly doubling the price!

This will be even more niche and bespoke if you’re offering circuit training exclusively, or as part of a specific package.

Having circuit be the focus of each of the packages means you can create them based on the extent of the service as well as different goals.

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For instance, using circuit and nutrition together means you could design a specific weight loss package.

Not only would you be able to charge for the combination of services but also because of the rarity of packages like this, and the high demand for this particular goal. 

 

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Before You Go!

Hopefully we’ve answered what qualifications do I need to teach circuit training, and left you with all of the tools to get started!

No matter where you want to work, and how you want to develop your career, each qualification and potential path here is a great way to become a circuit instructor and start a fitness career.

Don’t forget, you can start now with OriGym’s diploma in personal training here, or register your interest below!

Want to combine circuit training with another niche? Or maybe just look a little deeper into the details of each course? Download our free prospectus and take a look! 

Written by Jessie Florence Jones

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Jessie has a 1st class honours degree in English Literature from University of Leeds and an MA in English Literature from Durham University. Naturally Jessie has a real passion for writing especially about film, culture and wellbeing. Outside of writing she loves hiking, country walks and yoga, which she has been doing religiously over lockdown.

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