Online personal training courses are an increasingly popular option for those wanting to qualify as a PT by studying wherever and whenever they want.

With so many different course providers, it can be hard to know where to start! That’s why we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to choosing the best online personal training courses in the UK, covering:

Before we get started, why not begin your research by checking out OriGym’s Personal Trainer Diploma? Download our free course prospectus for more information.

Essential Features Of The Best Online Personal Training Courses

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When it comes to choosing the best online personal training courses in the UK, there are 2 minimum criteria that the course should meet. The course should be

  • Regulated by Ofqual, and
  • Endorsed by CIMSPA 

Let’s break down exactly what this means and why this is so important when it comes to deciding which online personal trainer certification is best. 

The Best Online Personal Trainer Courses Are Regulated By Ofqual 

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The first thing to look out for when choosing the best online PT course is whether it is regulated by Ofqual

Ofqual is the government body responsible for setting the frameworks of all vocational courses in the UK- including personal training courses. 

If a course is approved by Ofqual, this means that it has met the highest industry standards in aspects such as:

  • Quality of teaching  
  • Quality of assessment and examination
  • Quality of online resources
  • Organisation and administration of the course

This means that you can be sure that you will qualify with all the skills, knowledge and experience required to become a personal trainer.

Here at OriGym, our online personal trainer course is regulated by Ofqual, which is what makes ours one of the best personal trainer online courses out there! 

So, how can you find out whether a course is regulated by Ofqual? 

The first thing to look out for is whether a course is labelled by its ‘level’. In terms of personal training courses, the main levels you will find are:

At OriGym, we offer all of these courses, all of which are Ofqual-regulated – so you’re guaranteed to receive a high standard of teaching whichever level of study you choose!  

Another way to check that an online PT course is regulated by Ofqual is to look out for these logos on the course provider’s website:

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These are all the names of awarding bodies that are linked to Ofqual. 

For example, here at OriGym, our online personal training course is awarded by Focus Awards, which is an Ofqual-approved awarding body.  

Ofqual also provides regulation across courses from different providers. This means that any two online personal trainer courses that are regulated by Ofqual are guaranteed to cover the same content and have the same standard of teaching. 

As well as guaranteeing the quality of the course itself, the best online personal trainer courses are Ofqual-regulated because it improves your employability. 

When it comes to finding a job as a personal trainer, having an Ofqual-regulated qualification on your personal trainer CV will show employers that you are a high-standard of personal trainer, since it is a widely recognized name. This therefore helps you stand out and makes it more likely for them to hire you! 

The Best Personal Training Courses Online Are Endorsed By CIMSPA

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As well as being regulated by Ofqual, when looking for the best online personal trainer certification, you should ensure that it is endorsed by CIMSPA. 

We have a whole article here explaining what CIMSPA isBut in summary, CIMSPA stands for ‘The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity’. It is the professional development body for the sports and physical activity sector in the UK. 

CIMSPA sets the standards of education within the health and fitness sector, providing regulation across courses- including online personal trainer courses!

All of the best online PT courses are endorsed by CIMSPA, as it acts as a ‘stamp of approval’ that you will receive a high standard of training. 

Plus, like Ofqual, having a CIMSPA-endorsed course on your CV shows employers that you have reputable qualifications and will be a high-standard personal trainer. Again, this makes it more likely that you will get hired! 

Another reason that CIMSPA endorsement is a feature of the best online personal training program is that it is internationally recognised. This makes it a lot easier if you want to become a personal trainer abroad as your qualifications will be recognised by employers all over the world! 

9 Criteria To Consider When Comparing The Best Online Personal Trainer Courses

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Even once you have narrowed your comparison down to courses that are Ofqual-regulated and CIMSPA-endorsed, you will still find that there is a huge variety, particularly in terms of price. 

You may be tempted to choose the cheapest course you mistakenly associate saving money with something of to be of good quality.

Similarly, if your budget allows, you may choose the most expensive course, as you think that the more expensive the course, the higher the quality. 

However, neither of these assumptions are true! 

Instead, the best online personal training courses provide good value for money. In other words, their price is reflective of the quality of education and training you receive. 

To help you find the best online personal trainer course that is good value for money, you should consider the following 9 factors:

#1- The Quality of the Online Learning Resources 

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When taking an online personal training course, you will be studying at home and in your own time, using your laptop, computer or even your smartphone. 

Aside from your practical assessment (which we will cover in point #5), you will spend the majority of your time studying online, rather than traditional in-person teaching in a classroom setting. 

So, when wondering ‘which is the best online personal training certification?’, a major factor that you should consider is the quality of the online learning resources themselves. Specifically, look out for course providers with a strong E-learning platform. 

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This is a webspace or ‘portal’ used to access everything to do with your course. It should therefore be easy to use and efficient, as this is what will determine the whole experience of your course! 

The quality of the platform can be hard to determine until you actually enrol in the course and receive a login to access the platform.

Of course, companies are likely to tell you that their E learning platform is good, since they are ultimately trying to sell you the course!

However, at OriGym, you don’t have to take our word for it. Our E-learning platform is multi-award nominated! 

This means that several impartial third parties have recognised ours as having a high quality E-learning platform, making ours one of the best online personal training courses in the UK. 

As well as a good E-learning platform, some other resources to look out for when choosing the best online personal training course are:

  • E-books and E-manuals
  • Interactive quizzes 
  • Online lectures
  • Video tutorials and demonstrations 
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#2- The Amount of Tutor Support

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Unlike other ways of getting qualified as a PT, studying online means you’ll be doing most of your course alone at home in your own time. So, you won’t be able to ask a teacher in-person any questions that come up whilst you are studying, like you could in a classroom. 

This is why all the best online personal trainer courses have a good tutor support system to help you with your course whenever you need it!

If you’re wondering how long it takes to become a personal trainer through an online course, tutor support is a major factor in determining this. 

For example, here at OriGym, all of our students have access to a team of expert tutors 9am to 7pm, 7 days a week. They can contact tutors via:

  • Chatbox
  • Email
  • Phone 

This level of support can be hard to find from other course providers as most only offer support during office hours. For example, Train Fitness only offers phone support Monday to Friday until 5:30pm:

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This means that if you want to study during the evenings, any questions you have won’t be answered until the following working day – when you’re likely to be in work yourself!

Similarly, if you have a question on Friday, you’ll have to wait until Monday for a response. This may not seem like a lot, but if you want to do most of your studying over the weekend it can be really frustrating. 

One of the main benefits of studying online is that it’s flexible and that you can study around your existing work and family commitments. Not having support available on weekends and evenings removes much of this flexibility and can delay your progress with the course! 

Having an efficient and quick tutor support system such as OriGym’s means that if you are struggling with a particular element of the course, you can get help quickly and progress onto the next part of the course. 

This all means that you can qualify quicker and start earning money as a personal trainer. This level of support is what makes ours one of the best PT courses online in the UK! 

#3- Feedback/ Marking Turnaround Time

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Another important element to consider when wondering what is the best online personal trainer certification is how long it takes to get feedback on your work. 

Like tutor support, this is an essential factor in how long it takes you to complete your course and qualify. 

For example, say you work hard to complete your coursework and assessments so that you can qualify quickly, but the course provider takes several weeks or even months to mark your work and give you feedback. 

This naturally delays the time it takes you to finish your course. This then means that it takes you longer to qualify and earn a personal trainer salary.

When enquiring about an online personal training course, you should always ask how long their feedback turnaround time is. It is not always explicitly stated on course provider’s websites, especially if they don’t have a good turnaround time! 

For example, we made an enquiry with PT Academy about their online personal training course, and asked them about their feedback times. 

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We found out that they actually don’t provide any direct feedback on students’ work! Instead, students have to find out for themselves why their answers are right or wrong, using a grading parameter – certainly not a sign of the best online personal training program! 

Let’s compare this with OriGym’s feedback and marking policy. 

What makes ours one of the best personal trainer online courses is that we guarantee the following:

  • Feedback on your coursework within 10 working days
  • Final assessments marked within 2 weeks 

These are up there with the quickest turnaround times in the industry!

As well as the time taken to get your feedback, the quality of the feedback itself is also important. 

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Instead of just finding out whether your answers are correct or incorrect, you should expect to get a detailed breakdown of exactly where you went wrong. This is the only way that you can learn from your mistakes and become a good personal trainer.

The only way that you can guarantee that you will get high quality feedback is if the tutors and assessors marking your work are highly experienced and knowledgeable.

Here at OriGym, we have a dedicated team of tutors and assessors who have all worked in the fitness industry for several years, with many having been or still operating as personal trainers themselves. They are also all full-time employees at OriGym. 

This means that they are experts and can therefore give you specific detailed feedback on your work that is backed by years of experience in the industry. 

This may seem like an obvious requirement, but in fact, we are one of the few course providers that provide this level of feedback! 

#4- Ensure That There Is An In-Person Practical Assessment 

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If you’re looking for the best online personal trainer course, you should ensure that there is an in-person final practical assessment. 

This final assesment ensures that as well as knowledge, you have the practical skills needed to be a successful personal trainer. 

For example, as part of the final assessment of OriGym’s online personal training course, you will have to complete a practical assessment where you deliver a mock PT session with a client.  

Completing this practical assesment will give you the confidence needed to walk right in to a job as a personal trainer and start working with clients.

Here at OriGym, what makes ours one of the best online personal training courses is that aside from the practical assessment, all learning is done exclusively online. There are no hidden practical sessions that you have to attend. 

You only have one in-person practical assesment per course, and this is the only time you have to physically attend a centre. Other than that, all other assesments, such as multiple choice exams and coursework, are completed online, at your own pace, without any deadlines!

After all, it’s likely that you have chosen an online personal trainer course for a reason, such as:

  • You prefer to study at your own pace
  • You prefer to study in the comfort of your own home
  • You want to fit the course around other commitments such as a job or university
  • You cannot travel to practical lessons 

However, if you do think you’ll benefit from having practical as well as online elements, OriGym offer a ‘blended’ learning option, which combines online and in-person learning. You will do most of your studying online, but you can also attend practical in-person workshops.

Our flexible choice of study options to suit every type of student is what makes us one the best online school for personal training! 

#5- Check How Often and Where the Practical Assessments Run

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As we have said, you should ensure that you choose a course that involves a practical assessment. But another thing you should consider is where and how often those practical assessments are held.

The best online personal trainer courses will hold regular practical assessments. This is important because having to wait a long time for an assessment date delays the time it takes you to qualify and start earning money! 

You should also ensure that the assessments are run in a wide range of locations in the UK. 

Having a limited number of locations for assessments means that you may have to travel far, which can be inconvenient and costly.

That’s why here at OriGym, we run our practical assessments in 11 locations across the UK, making it more likely that you will find an assessment centre close to you. 

best online pt courses

Let’s compare this to the practical assessment locations of some other popular online PT course providers. 

For example, Educate Fitness only run them in London and Birmingham.

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Focus Training have 5 locations: Bristol, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Plymouth, Redruth. As you can see, these are not major cities and are likely difficult to access by public transport.

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As you can see, these locations are a lot more limited than OriGym’s, meaning that you may have to travel a long way to do your practical assessment. 

#6- Consider the Deadlines For Online Assessments

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As well as a practical assessment, as part of your online PT course, you will have to do online assessments. 

At OriGym for instance, our online assessments involve:

  • Multiple choice open book online exam on anatomy and physiology
  • Multiple choice open book online paper on the application of nutrition 
  • Coursework on programming with clients, smart goals, client screening and progressive overview

When wondering which online personal trainer certification is best, you should therefore find out whether the online assessments have deadlines. 

One of the major benefits of doing your personal training course online is that you can study at your own pace to fit around your existing commitments. 

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Having strict deadlines for your assessments and coursework would therefore defeat the point of choosing to do an online rather than full-time course!

For example, Train Fitness have a 9 month deadline on completing their online PT course, and Study Active have a 12 month deadline! 

Plus, many course providers will then charge you a fee to extend each module if you don’t complete it within the deadline. For example, Future Fit charges £70 for a module extension! 

That’s why here at OriGym, all students have upto 4 years to complete an online personal training diploma (Level 2 & 3), and we don’t impose any deadlines for specific assesments or coursework. 

This flexibility is what makes ours one of the best online personal trainer certification programs.

– – – –

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

#7- Check if Additional CPD Courses Are Offered

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As well as the course itself, another thing to consider when finding the best online personal training program is whether there are any additional free CPDs included. 

Standing for Continued Professional Development, CPD courses are additional short courses on specific study that allow you to expand your knowledge and skills. 

They are therefore a great way to increase your employability once you qualify, as it means that you can specialise in a particular area of fitness. Check out the range of CPD courses we offer here at OriGym!

Many course providers will provide CPD courses, but this is often at an additional costFor example, here at OriGym we offer a package that includes your Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer courses, plus 6 free CPD courses!

Whilst other course providers do run CPD courses, usually you will have to enrol and pay for them separately to your online PT course. This therefore requires more time and effort than if you were to have them already included. 

For example, Study Active states they include 20 free CPD courses with their Level 3 online personal training course. 

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Whilst this may sound appealing, as you can see, there is no mention of these CPD courses being accredited or recognised. In fact, they state that completing a CPD course with them “does not lead to a formal qualification”! 

In other words, all of the time and effort you spend completing 20 non-accredited CPD courses will not actually be worth it! Instead, it is better to have 6 fully accredited CPD courses that will actually be beneficial to your future career as a personal trainer.

With this in mind, remember that quality, not quantity is important when it comes to finding the best online personal training course that includes CPDs.

#8- Look for Any Extra Hidden Fees

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Something you may not have considered when looking for the best online personal training courses in the UK is whether there are any extra hidden fees.

By this, we mean additional fees that are not explicitly advertised in the total price advertised on a course provider’s website. 

This is important as not knowing about these extra costs could mean that your online personal trainer course actually costs you a lot more than you signed up for. 

This is particularly the case for course providers who may try to market themselves as a low-cost provider to attract students with a seemingly low price on their website. 

However, you will find that there are lots of additional fees once you have already committed to the course. These are usually found in the smallprint of the Terms and Conditions of the course provider’s website. 

Some additional fees to look out for are:

  • Exams and assessments. You may assume that this would be part of your course, since they are an essential part of a qualification. But many course providers will charge you extra just to take your exams and assessments!
  • Resitting exams and assessments. Many course providers will also charge you to resit an exam or assessment if you don’t pass the first time. 

Some course provider resit costs are:

  • Train Fitness- £99
  • Future Fit- £50
  • HFE- £75

Whereas here at OriGym, whilst we have one of the highest pass rates in the industry, we understand that sometimes students have off-days. 

That’s why we allow our students to take unlimited resists at no extra cost! 

Other potential hidden fees include administration and certification costs.

  • Administration. Look out for additional administration charges. For example, some course providers will charge an enrolment fee on top of the course price. Whilst it is likely that you will have to pay a deposit to secure your place on the course, check that this will then be taken off the overall price of the course.
  • Certification. When you qualify, some course providers will then charge you for a physical copy of your certificate, as well as postage!

So when trying to choose the best online personal trainer course, make sure to enquire about any additional fees to avoid any nasty surprises!

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#9- Review the Overall Course Price

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All of the criteria we have discussed so far will help you find the best online personal training courses in the UK. 

However, we understand that you will ultimately want to find an online PT course that is both high quality and affordable. 

With this in mind, the best online personal training certification programs will have a balance between quality and value. 

In general, the average online personal training course can cost anywhere between £1000 and £3000. 

You should also consider any hidden additional fees, as we discussed above. 

You may be attracted to a course by a cheap course price. But these low-cost courses are usually cheap for a reason. They will usually not meet the criteria that we have outlined in this article. 

For example, you may find a course that costs only £800. This may seem great, but the course is not endorsed by CIMSPA, has poor reviews and does not include any CPD courses. They will most likely also add on hidden fees to the overall cost.

On the other hand, a £3000 course may not be worth it either. 

One of the main reasons that we can be drawn into an expensive course is through marketing! If a company uses marketing that makes it appear to be a premium or luxury brand, customers are more likely to pay a higher price. 

However, remember that when choosing the best personal training course online, alluring marketing does not necessarily equate to a high-quality course! 

Tips For How to Find the Best Online Personal Trainer Course

So, now you know some criteria to look out for when searching for the best online personal trainer certification. 

With these things in mind, here are 3 methods for finding the best online personal training course for you:

#1- Contact The Course Provider Themselves

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If you’re wondering ‘what is the best online personal training certification?’, one of the first things you should do is contact the course provider themselves. 

This is the best way to directly ask them any questions you may have that you haven’t been able to answer from the information on their website. 

A common way to contact the course provider is by submitting an enquiry form on their website and requesting a call-back.

This works by filling out a form on their website contact page with details such as your name, phone number, email address and a message. Or, you can fill in your details on enquiry boxes such as OriGym’s below:

A course advisor will then call you, where they will answer your questions and discuss the course with you. 

However, you should also be able to call the course provider yourself to ask any questions you may have. 

For example, at OriGym our team are on-hand to answer calls 7 days a week, 9-8pm. 

As well as answering your questions, speaking to someone over the phone will help you find the best online personal trainer course because it can give you a good idea of the company’s values and ethos. 

For example, if you call a course provider and they are rude, dismissive or organised, this is not a good first impression! 

It indicates that they do not care for their students, which could cause you problems later down the line. For example, the tutors could be rude and organised too, which would have a negative impact on your learning experience. 

On the other hand, if you speak to friendly, helpful and organised team member, this is a good indicator that the course itself will be the same.

This will therefore give you confidence that you have chosen the best online personal trainer certification for you. 

#2- Read Student Reviews 

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Once you have spoken to the company themselves, you should then read student reviews and testimonials. 

This can give you an insight into what the course is like from real students, rather than the company themselves.

However, you should always try to read impartial reviews from third party websites. 

Whilst course providers will display reviews and testimonials on their website, remember that these are likely to be hand-picked to only show the best reviews. A company is unlikely to display a bad review on their own website!

There are two main impartial review websites that we’d recommend using to find the best online personal training course: Google and Trustpilot. 

Using Google Reviews To Find The Online Personal Training Program

To find Google reviews of a course provider, simply type their name into Google and they will usually appear on the right-hand side of the page.

This is part of their Google My Business page, along with other details about the company such as their address and phone number. 

Here’s how OriGym’s Google My Business page looks: 

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As you can see, you can then click on the 245 Google reviews to read those reviews. 

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To save you looking into each individual course provider, we’ve done the work for you! Below is a table of the Google reviews of some of the main course providers. 

Notice how we have included not only the rating itself, but also the number of reviews. This is important as it shows that the average rating is taken from a larger number of actual reviews, giving more weight to the average rating. 

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As you can see, not all course providers have Google reviews. This is not a good sign of a good online personal training course provider, as it indicates that they are hiding their reviews. 

Yet at the same time, this ability for a company to control and delete Google reviews is a reason why it is not the best review platform to use when searching for the best online personal training course in the UK. 

Instead, we recommend using Trustpilot, as we will discuss below:

Using Trustpilot To Find The Best Online PT Course 

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Trustpilot is the biggest independent review platform. But most importantly, it is the most impartial and trustworthy, since companies cannot control or delete reviews that appear on there. 

It also only includes reviews from real, verified customers. This avoids the company themselves writing positive reviews of themselves! 

This means that you can be sure that any reviews you see on there are completely real! It is therefore one of the best tools to use when looking for the best personal trainer online courses. 

Again, to save you time we’ve compiled all of the reviews of the Trustpilot reviews of the main course providers:

As you can see, OriGym comes out on top here in both the average star rating (out of 5), and the percentage of 5-star reviews. 

It is also important that this is out of the highest number of reviews, since this shows that the average has been calculated from a large number of people. 

#3- Check How Long The Course Has Been Running For

Another important thing to research when finding out which online personal trainer certification is best is how long the course has been running for. 

This is important as a long-running course is a sign that the company is reputable and trustworthy. 

The best way to find out when a company was founded and whether it is a legitimate company or not is to search for it on the UK Government’s Companies House. This is the register of all limited companies in the UK. 

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For example, if you search for OriGym, you can see that we were founded in 2015. This makes us one of the longest-running personal training course providers in the UK!

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In general, you want to avoid course providers who have only just started up. This is because opting for a recently-established company comes with risks such as:

  • Financial instability, i.e. a risk that the business will fold and you will lose money and be unable to complete your course
  • Lack of experience in running a course / inexperienced tutors and assessors
  • Technical issues still being fixed on their website and/or E-learning platform
  • Payment issues
  • Small team so not as many staff on-hand to help you throughout the course
  • Less established so smaller range of locations for the practical assessment 

This is why we recommend choosing a long-term established course provider such as OriGym. This will give you confidence that you are choosing the best online school for personal training! 

#4- Find Out How Many Students Have Qualified From the Course

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Similar to finding out when the course provider was founded, it is also important to establish how many students they have qualified. 

You ideally want a course provider that has a high number of past graduates. 

Again, this shows that they are reputable and trustworthy. In other words, they would not produce graduates if they didn’t have a good course!

For example, here at OriGym, we graduate over 9000 students every year! This implies that we are reputable and trustworthy, as students have kept enrolling and passing our courses. 

As well as the number of students who have graduated, another good thing to look for is their pass rate. 

Pass rate is essentially the percentage of students who pass the course out of those that enrol. 

For example, OriGym has a 98% pass rate- one of the highest in the industry! 

A high pass rate such as ours is a good indicator of a good quality course. This is because everything from the quality of the teaching to the accessibility of the E-learning platform all contribute to helping students pass. 

You will usually find the number of graduates and the pass rate on the course provider’s website. If you can’t, this could be an indicator that the figure is not very impressive! 

Before You Go!

So, we hope that our criteria and tips have given you all you need to find the best online personal training course for you. If you want to guarantee you will get the best start to your career in the fitness industry, check out our Personal Trainer Diploma.

Enquire today, or download our free course prospectus here for more information about the range of courses we offer. 

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About the Author: Alice Williams

Alice OriGym Author
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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