what is cimspa

If you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer, you may have come across CIMSPA. But exactly what is CIMSPA? Do you need a CIMSPA membership to be a personal trainer? What does CIMSPA do? 

We answer all of these questions and more in our ultimate guide to CIMSPA membership! We’ll cover:

Before we get started, start your career as a personal trainer today with OriGym’s CIMSPA-endorsed personal training coursesEnquire today, or download our course prospectus to learn more! 


Start a career as a personal trainer with OriGym

Enquire about our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma today! 


Who are CIMSPA? Logo

Firstly, you may be wondering, what does CIMSPA stand for? 

CIMSPA stands for ‘The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity’.  

Founded in 2012, CIMSPA is the professional development body for the sport and physical activity sector in the UK. 

According to CIMSPA’s website, their overall mission is to:

...shape a respected, regulated and recognised sector that everyone wants to be a part of, and that others are confident interacting with

In other words, they aim to provide regulation across the UK’s sport and fitness industry, ensuring high standards of practice.

They are committed to supporting, developing and enabling fitness professionals to succeed, and as a result, inspiring the nation as a whole to become more active.

They believe that by supporting, developing and enabling fitness professionals, people will have more confidence in the sector and want to be part of it. As a result, this will inspire the nation as a whole to become more active and healthy. 

What Is A CIMSPA Endorsed Qualification?

what is cimspa qualification

CIMSPA works across a range of areas in the sport and fitness sector, but their main area of focus is training and education. 

One of their main roles is to create and establish a set of industry training and qualification standards. This ensures that all fitness professionals qualify with a high standard of knowledge and skills to perform their role effectively. 

The answer to ‘what is a CIMSPA qualification’ is simple, this simply refers to a course that has received official endorsement from the professional development body.  If a qualification meets these standards it will be advertised as being ‘CIMSPA endorsed/endorsed by CIMSPA’.

Receiving training that meets these standards will significantly increase your job prospects, which will become more apparent as you progress through the article.

What Does CIMSPA Do?

what is cimspa qualification 3

So, we hope you now have a clearer answer to the question, ‘What is CIMSPA?’ and their overall mission.

But you may now be wondering, exactly what do CIMSPA do and how do they intend to provide regulation across the sport and fitness sector?

Some of the key practical steps that CIMSPA take include:

  • Working with key stakeholders in the fitness sector to establish standards of practice.
  • Advising employers, awarding organisations, education institutes, training course providers and policy makers on how they can implement these standards of practice.
  • Holding an annual conference where all areas of the sector come together to discuss new ideas, regulations and the future of the industry. 
  • Offering CIMSPA membership for students and professionals in the sport and fitness sector- which we discuss in more detail later in this article!

Do I Need A CIMSPA Qualification?

what is cimspa qualification 2

As we’ll discuss later in this article, whilst there are some benefits, you don’t technically need an individual CIMSPA membership to become a PT. 

Instead, it is more important to ensure that your personal trainer qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA. 

But what is a 'CIMSPA endorsement' and why is it so important? 

The main reason is simply that if a qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA, you can be sure that it has met the highest industry standards. This means that you can feel confident you will be taking a high-quality course and qualify with the level of skills and knowledge you need to be a successful personal trainer. 

If you see the CIMSPA logo on any kind of fitness course, this is essentially a ‘stamp of approval’ that it is a high-quality course!

This is why here at OriGym, all of our fitness courses- including our Level 3 Personal Training Course, are endorsed by CIMSPA.

To achieve this endorsement, CIMSPA assesses the course in relation to a set of criteria in areas such as:

  • Quality of teaching materials
  • Quality of teaching 
  • Assessment criteria 
  • Amount of tutor support

So if a qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA, you can be sure that it meets industry standards in each of these areas! 

It is also important to note that getting this CIMSPA endorsement costs the training provider money. This is why the majority of free or very low-cost personal training courses will not be endorsed by CIMSPA, and so are not worthwhile!

Check out our complete guide to free vs paid personal training courses for more reasons why getting a CIMSPA personal training qualification is so important.

Having a CIMSPA endorsement qualification not only gives you peace of mind but also enhances your career prospects. 

This is because most employers know the value and meaning of CIMSPA endorsement. It indicates to an employer that you are qualified to a high standard and therefore able to fulfil the job role- which of course makes you more desirable as an employee!

Many personal trainer job adverts will specify a CIMSPA endorsed coursed as a requirement, such as the ones below:

cimspa personal trainer 2

cimspa personal trainer 3

cimspa personal trainer 4

So by having a CIMSPA-endorsed qualification, you will open yourself up to so many more job opportunities! 


Start a career as a personal trainer with OriGym

Enquire about our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma today! 

Is CIMSPA recognised worldwide?

what is cimspa qualification 5

If you are looking to work as a personal trainer abroad, you may be wondering if, is CIMSPA recognised worldwide?

Even though CIMSPA is a UK-based organisation, the good news is that all CIMSPA-endorsed qualifications are internationally recognised! 

In other words, a UK Level 3 personal training course which is endorsed by CIMSPA, such as OriGym’s, will be recognised by employers abroad. This is why it is so important to choose a reputable course provider such as OriGym if you want to work outside of the UK!

In order to transfer your qualifications, you will often just need to register with the relevant professional body for that country and submit your certificates. For example, if you want to become a personal trainer in Australia you will have to register with AUSactive (the professional body for sport and fitness in Australia). 

However, this is generally a quick process which is again, made a lot easier if your course is already CIMSPA-endorsed.

What Is CIMSPA Membership?

CIMSPA Membership

As we have mentioned, one of the ways CIMSPA regulates the fitness industry is by offering ‘membership’ to those who hold endorsed qualifications.

Now comes the question - What is CIMSPA membership?

According to their website, a CIMSPA membership:

...recognises your professional status, helps you achieve your career ambitions and gives you a range of additional benefits.

Practically anyone involved in the sport and fitness sector can become a member of CIMSPA, including:

  • Personal trainers
  • Gym instructors
  • Yoga instructors
  • Group exercise class instructors
  • Strength and conditioning coaches
  • Leisure staff 

There are then 4 main categories of CIMSPA membership to choose from:

  1. Students and recent graduates. This membership is for those either currently working towards a fitness qualification, or those who have just qualified. This costs £30 per year. 
  2. Management professionals. This is for “existing and aspiring sport and physical activity managers”. For example, if you are a gym manager, you can apply for this membership. This option costs £140 a year. 
  3. Practitioners. This is for “frontline professionals across the sport and physical activity sector”. This is perhaps the most popular membership, as it covers all qualified practising fitness professionals, including personal trainers, fitness instructors, yoga instructors, leisure centre staff and more. This membership costs £30 a year. 
  4. Affiliate. This is for those who are not directly working in the sector, but simply have an interest in it. For example, those who are not qualified practitioners, but work in HR or administration. There is no cost for this membership.
  5. Chartered membership. This is the highest level of CIMSPA membership. To become a member, you have to complete an assessment to prove that you demonstrate “excellence” and have made a “significant impact” to the sector over time. This cost for this membership ranges from £140 to £225 a year.

As you can see, there are a range of membership options depending on where you fit into the sport and fitness sector. For more details on what each option entails, check out the membership section of the CIMSPA website

Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more that we think you’ll love:

Do Personal Trainers Need CIMSPA Membership?

cimspa personal trainer

If you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer, you may be wondering whether you really need a CIMSPA membership. 

Technically, you do not need an individual CIMSPA membership to become a personal trainer. It simply acts to benefit your professional career, enabling you to:

  • Enhance your employability through access to resources such as a network of employers, which will help to find a job at the end of your course and access to elearning materials via the ‘CIMSPA Academy’
  • Create an online profile listing your qualifications and work experience, which can then be shared with potential employers.
  • Access to the CIMSPA member newsletter, featuring news and trends in the industry.
  • Job vacancy alerts
  • Register with international bodies such as EReps and Fitness Australia 

So, whilst it's not a 'necessity' all personal trainers should consider purchasing membership to experience these benefits first hand.

What Is The Difference Between CIMSPA and Focus Awards?

Another name you may have come across in your search for a personal training course is Focus Awards. But what is the difference between this and CIMSPA, and how are they related? 

Focus Awards is an awarding body that develops nationally recognised qualifications for a wide range of areas and sectors- including personal training courses. 

Focus Awards CIMSPA Qualifications

Once Focus Awards have developed a qualification, CIMSPA then checks that it meets their regulations and standards of practice. If it does, then it is officially recognised by CIMSPA. 

Focus Awards are also regulated by Ofqual, which is the Government body responsible for setting the frameworks for vocational course levels. They ensure that all awarding bodies (including Focus Awards) adhere to those frameworks.

Some other Ofqual-regulated awarding bodies are:

  • YMCA Awards
  • Active IQ
  • NCFE 

Here at OriGym, all of our personal training courses are awarded by Focus Awards. You can see the full list of qualifications awarded by Focus Awards here


Start a career as a personal trainer with OriGym

Enquire about our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma today! 

To explain the relationship between Focus Awards and CIMSPA in personal training courses, let’s break down the different organisations involved in our Level 3 personal trainer course:

  • OriGym are the course provider here, meaning that they are the ones who actually deliver the course, including things such as teaching the course content (whether online or in-person), providing course materials and conducting and assessing exams. 
  • Focus Awards is the awarding body, meaning that they actually give you your qualification and certify you as a personal trainer when you graduate. They are the ones who give your qualification its official name: a ‘Focus Awards Level 3 Certificate in Planning and Delivering Personal Training’, which you will see on your certificate.
  • Finally, this qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA, meaning that the course has met the standards of practice for the industry. 

Just like CIMSPA, Focus Awards is a well-known and highly reputable name in the fitness industry. Employers will recognise it as a sign that you have received a high standard of education, which will make you more desirable as a potential employee if they see this name on your personal trainer CV

So, in summary, when choosing a personal training course, you should also make sure that it is not only endorsed by CIMSPA, but also awarded by an Ofqual-regulated awarding body such as Focus Awards. It'll give you the peace of mind that you are taking a legitimate, high quality course and it will also enhance your career prospects! 

Before You Go!

If you started this article wondering ‘what is CIMSPA?’, we hope that you now have a clear answer! We’ve covered everything from the different kinds of CIMSPA membership to why choosing a CIMSPA-endorsed qualification is so important for your career.

With this in mind, here at OriGym, all of our personal trainer courses are endorsed by CIMSPA, giving you peace of mind and enhancing your career prospects!

Enquire today, or browse the full range of fitness courses available by downloading our free course prospectus here

Written by Alice Williams

Content Editor & Yoga Teacher

Alice graduated with a First-Class degree in French and Linguistics from the University of Leeds in 2019. As part of her degree, she spent a year living in France where she worked for a lifestyle blog, gaining professional experience in both translation and content writing. 

Alice is also a qualifiied yoga teacher, allowing her write from a place of expertise when it comes to yoga!

When she’s not writing or practicing yoga, she also loves running, cooking and music! 

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