YMCA Awards Level 2Fitness Instructor & Level 3 Personal Training Combined

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Become a personal trainer with no prior experience with our REPs-endorsed online course.

Our combined Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym-Based Exercise) & Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training (Gym-Based Exercise) allows you to become a personal trainer with no prior qualifications. You'll study both qualification levels in one affordable, streamlined package.

The YMCA Awards combined course is online, so there's no travelling or timetables. You can get qualified without giving up your job, family time or social life. You'll sit your exams at home at a time that suits you and practice the physical side at your local gym.

Once you're qualified, you'll be able to join the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and make your dream job a reality.

To study our fitness courses you must live in the UK and have access to a suitable gym. All filming of practical sessions must take place in a UK gym.

The YMCA Level 2 & 3 Combined Course will give you the knowledge and skills you need to plan and instruct gym and personal training sessions for healthy adults of all ages.

The course totals 52 credits and 346 guided learning hours. You'll have 6 months to complete the Level 2 half of the course, and 6 months to complete the Level 3 half of the course.

The Level 2 Certificate will teach you about the principles of fitness and health, anatomy and physiology for exercise, and how to plan and instruct exercise in a gym in preparation for moving to Level 3.

The Level 3 Certificate will build on these key skills and develop your knowledge further, teaching you to create a personal training programme for clients, apply the principles of nutrition to a fitness programme, and deliver personal training sessions.

In total you'll study 10 units:

  1. Anatomy and physiology for exercise
  2. Health, safety and welfare in a fitness environment
  3. Principles of exercise, fitness and health
  4. How to support clients who take part in exercise and physical activity
  5. Planning gym-based exercise
  6. Instructing gym-based exercise
  7. Anatomy and physiology for exercise and health
  8. Applying the principles of nutrition to a physical activity programme
  9. Programming personal training with clients
  10. Delivering personal training sessions

They key topics you'll cover are:

  1. The heart and circulatory system
  2. The respiratory system
  3. The structure and function of the skeleton
  4. The musculoskeletal system
  5. Postural and core stability
  6. The nervous system
  7. Energy systems and their relation to exercise
  8. How to maintain health, safety and welfare in a variety of fitness environments, including how to safeguard children and vulnerable adults
  9. The health benefits of physical activity and the importance of healthy eating
  10. How to communicate with and motivate your clients effectively
  11. How to programme safe and effective exercise for a range of clients
  12. How to apply the principles of nutrition to support your clients' goals as part of an exercise programme
  13. How to design, manage, and adapt a personal training programme for healthy adults of all ages
  14. How to deliver exercise and physical activity as part of a programme for healthy adults of all ages

This combined course is perfect for you if you have no prior qualifications in the fitness industry and want to pursue a career as a personal trainer. It's also perfect if your current Level 2 qualification doesn't cover the required units.

You can use this qualification to progress to further or higher education within health and fitness. For more information, see the 'Further Education' section.

You should be over 16, live in the UK, and have a reasonable level of fitness and gym experience. Good written and verbal communication skills are recommended. If English is your second language, you’ll need an IELTS 6.5 or ESOL Level 2 (or equivalent). If you don’t have this, we’ll review your case on an individual basis.

If you have any disabilities which you believe may impact your studies or assessments, please inform your Course Advisor before enrolment so that we can advise you on whether reasonable adjustments can be made to accommodate your needs.

How You'll Learn

This course is online and fully flexible, so you don't need to attend any workshops, classrooms, or exam centres.

You'll access all your course materials through the Student Community, our online learning environment that you can access at any time, from anywhere that has an internet connection. 

Your course materials have been specially designed for distance learning by fitness experts, and you can work through them at your own pace.


You'll be assessed through multiple choice exams, worksheets, and practical assessments.

All the written assessments are online, giving you the freedom to sit your exams at a time that suits you, from the comfort of your own home.

For practical assessments, you'll film yourself delivering gym sessions at your local gym, where you’ll demonstrate what you've learnt by instructing your gym buddy. You’ll then upload these videos to our Student Community to be assessed by your tutor. 

To make life easy, you’ll be able to use our dedicated app to upload the video straight from your phone or tablet. Our Student Community will also provide you with an easy-to-use e-portfolio of all your videos, giving you a useful overview of your progress throughout the course.

Unlimited Support

You’ll be assigned an expert academic tutor who'll be with you from enrolment to graduation. Their support is unlimited and you can contact them by phone or via the Student Community. They’ll answer any questions you have about coursework, study materials, and assessments, and help you work through any part of the course you’re stuck with.

They’ll also give you test papers and mock exams to ensure you’re ready to pass your exams. All your papers will be given constructive feedback so you know exactly what your strengths are and what you can improve.

Our dedicated student support team will be on hand to assist you with administrative tasks, using the Student Community, and any other non-academic queries you may have.

Once you've completed this course, you'll be fully qualified to work as a personal trainer, either self-employed or within a gym. You'll be able to join the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), enhancing your status within the industry and ensuring you can access the best jobs.

You could work as a personal trainer or fitness instructor in a variety of locations, including:

  1. Gyms
  2. Health clubs
  3. Leisure centres
  4. Community centres
  5. Schools
  6. In people's homes
  7. Outside

However, you don't need to wait til you've completed the full combined course to start working in fitness. After you've completed the first half of the course, Level 2, you can join REPs and work as a gym instructor.

After completing both Levels of this qualification, you could move on to a variety of courses, such as:

  1. Apprenticeship in Exercise and Fitness
  2. YMCA Awards Level 3 Award in Business Skills for the Fitness Professional
  3. YMCA Awards Level 3 Award in Instructing Outdoor Fitness
  4. YMCA Awards Level 3 Award in Sports Conditioning
  5. Level 3 Certificate in Sports Massage (Soft Tissue Therapy)
  6. Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral

To complete this course, you'll need access to the resources below. You'll need to provide evidence of this before you enrol. 


  1. A computer or laptop with internet to access, complete and submit coursework 
  2. A webcam and microphone in order to sit online exams 
  3. A tablet, smartphone or camera to video and submit practical assessment
  4. A printer and scanner to print relevant documents and be able to scan into the system 

Practical Element  

  1. Access to a gym to practice the physical element of course and complete final practical assessment 
  2. Authorisation to film within the gym so you can complete this assessment 
  3. A 'gym buddy' (who can access your gym) to participate in the physical element

During the Level 2 half of the course, you'll also need a Level 2 qualified person to be within the area while you're filming your practical assessments. This can be your ‘gym buddy’, a member of gym staff, or a personal trainer.

This qualification is regulated by Ofqual and supported by REPs (the Register of Exercise Professionals), an independent public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of fitness professionals in the UK. One of their key functions is to provide a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the Health and Fitness Industry’s agreed National Occupational Standards.

To gain recognition by the Register of Exercise Professionals, you must provide evidence that you meet the National Occupational Standards that underpin the YMCA Awards Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing. These standards are produced by Skills Active, the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure & Wellbeing, who represent the needs of the industry as agreed by employers and other stakeholders.

You can find out more about REPs here.

Please note that a £150 YMCA Awards registration and certification fee applies. You'll also have to pay a £15 exam fee per sitting.

Please contact us for the latest fee information. 

The benefit of completing this course with us is that all of our assessments are completed at a time that suits you, giving you full flexibility. It also means that you don’t have to attempt them until you feel ready, as opposed to us dictating when and where you should undergo assessment.

Multiple Choice Theory Paper

We use an E-proctor site that allows you to sit the theory papers under ‘exam conditions’ from the comfort of your own home, at a time that suits you. You will be directed to a designated website to use to sit your multiple choice exam. The whole exam process will be recorded using your webcam. At the beginning of the exam you will go through some security checks, select the appropriate examination paper and record your exam session (using your webcam) within the designated time. Upon completion, you will be given a provisional grade, which will be confirmed once your recorded session has been assessed to ensure that you adhered to the exam guidelines.

Please note: the fee for sitting these proctored multiple choice examinations is £15 for each examination sitting.

Submission of Worksheets

You will be required to complete a number of worksheets. The questions are designed to check your competency and understanding of the course content. In order to achieve an overall pass in each worksheet, you will need to provide satisfactory answers to all questions. If your tutor feels you have not demonstrated sufficient knowledge in any section of the worksheet, you will be required to re-submit the work, you can review your material to find out the answers to the questions although the answers do need to be written in your own words.

Please note: The worksheets will be completed, saved and submitted for assessment online through our e-Portfolio systems called Pebblepad.

Case Study (level 3 only)

 You will be required to build a client profile. You will need to complete all elements, which will be based on specific information gathered from working with your gym participant. You will then build a programme specific to that person’s needs, carry it out over a period of time, and then evaluate the results. This case study will be completed in your own time and does not require to be completed under ‘exam conditions’.

Practical Sessions

You will be required to record yourself delivering practical instruction sessions as specified in the course syllabus. For each practical element, the gym session must take place in one session, but should be split into smaller video clips (to allow for easy upload & assessment). By allowing you to complete the session in this way, it means you can carry out the session at a time that suits you. You can use a mobile phone or tablet to record and upload your recordings (via wifi to avoid data charges). Please be reminded that for Level 2, the gym environment will need to be supervised by a qualified gym instructor.