Our fantastic student Sophia Bashforth reviews her journey to becoming a personal trainer with our 100% online YMCA Awards Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer Combined Course.

It all started aged 14 when, as a persistent sporting flop at school, I wanted to try a different style of exercise to generally keep fit and healthy. This led to me joining the gym and despite not knowing what I was doing, I enjoyed it and so decided to enter into the Manchester 10k.

I began setting more and more personal bests and pushing hard for 5 and 10ks on the treadmill. Seeing myself getting faster motivated me to try even harder and aim for shorter times.

A friend introduced me to the weights room which kick-started the transition from cardio to weight training. This quickly led to enjoying seeing how strong I could get, always pushing for more reps and heavier weights. Over time my form started to improve and the muscle contractions felt better.

Now, after weight training consistently for around a year, at aged 17 and 60kg, I am proud to have personal bests such as 80kg deadlift (2 sets of 5 reps), 95kg squat (one rep max), pistol squats (18 reps), push ups (27 in 30 secs) and shoulder press with 17kg dumbells (6 reps).

My younger brother joined the gym as soon as he was old enough so I started training him and showing him the weights room, just as my friend showed me. I enjoyed motivating him to push to the limit, now he trains on his own as he doesn't need my help anymore!

One of my closest friends has since started weight training with me and enjoys it just as much. A few other friends have since trained with me and enjoyed the exercises they were given. It felt good to see people push themselves hard and feel good afterwards.

I am now at a crossroads in my life, currently studying 3 A Levels in second year of college which I enjoy, but am unsure about my next step.

After visiting universities to look at their health, fitness and sports courses, I still wasn't convinced this was the best option or worth the investment.

I want to pursue my passion for the gym further by taking a gap year after my exams in June to explore the fitness industry before making any decisions about university.

I decided to take a recognised qualification to open up opportunities for a career as an alternative or in addition to a degree. I needed my Level 3 Personal Training qualification, but it was hard to find courses suitable as I don't have a car and study full time.

After researching my options, I chose ICS Learn due to the flexibility of self-teaching in my own time. 

In many of my college free periods, I log onto my laptop and do 30 minutes at a time. The power-points are easy to follow and I’ve had constructive feedback from my coursework.

The assessments were fairly easy to complete once I had found the information in the powerpoints, but my tutor’s feedback was definitely very helpful and enabled me to pass!

I haven’t got to the practical stage yet, but it’s very convenient to do my theory exams at home as it can fit around my college work easily.

I haven’t got to the practical stage yet, but it’s very convenient to do my theory exams at home as it can fit around my college work easily. I also feel like there is less pressure doing the exams at home compared to completing them externally.

ICS Learn is giving me valuable experience that will help me decide if I should go to University. It may even be the start of a career in the fitness industry.

ICS Learn is the perfect vehicle to gain a professional qualification to develop my passion into a career.


If you've been inspired by Sophia's story, take a look at our Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer courses.