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Here we’ll take a brief look at the key additions to the new Active IQ (AIQ) Personal Trainer qualification.

The vocational sector is an interesting breed. Qualifications are always changing. For those of you who did your qualifications a while back, you will remember the early Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) affiliated qualifications included the Advanced Fitness Instructor and a range of other bolt on units that led to the final personal trainer qualification. This then changed at the time of the QCF and became one personal trainer qualification and really simplified the confusion with the career pathway.

While this was positive on the one hand, aspects such as business skills, for example, became considerably watered down in the next version of the qualification. Now we enter a new uncertain period, where it seems CIMSPA, with government backing, will be positively shaking up the sector. At present, it all looks extremely promising.

With the end of the QCF, awarding organisations do not have to conform to the common units and can create their own more bespoke qualifications. Personally, I believe this is fantastic, as it really allows us to create a qualification that is fit for purpose. The downside of losing common units, however, is that qualifications such as personal training will now be developed separately by different awarding organisations (AO). Therefore, no longer will the personal trainer qualification mean you are getting a set standard, but rather you will need to look at who the AO is. This may change with CIMSPA developments but standards have yet to be agreed across the board, as it is too early in the process. It is nice to see that Active IQ have taken onboard research and evaluation regarding qualifications and with this created a personal trainer qualification we can definitely be proud of.

In this blog, I will explore some of the key differences with the new qualification. Here you can see the old units beside the new ones.


OLD AIQ Personal Trainer qualification

NEW AIQ Personal Trainer qualification
Anatomy and Physiology Anatomy and Physiology for Exercise and Health Applied Anatomy and Physiology for Exercise, Health and Fitness
Nutrition Applying the Principles of Nutrition to a Physical Activity Programme The Principles of Nutrition and their Application to Exercise and Health
Health Chronic Disease N/A Understanding Lifestyle, Health, Wellbeing and Common Medical Conditions
Behaviour Change N/A Encouraging Positive Health and Fitness behaviours in clients
Exercise Programming personal training with clients

Delivering personal training sessions

Programme design and delivery for personal training
Business N/A Professionalism and business acumen for personal trainers

While some names have altered slightly, the main additional modules are as follows:

  1. Understanding lifestyle, health, wellbeing and common medical conditions
  2. Encouraging positive health and fitness behaviours in clients
  3. Professionalism and business acumen for personal trainers.

Now given the raising the bar report and employer discussions, it is clear why these new units have been created. One of the key reasons, I chose to join the Active IQ team was AIQ’s willingness to continually develop their qualifications and keep up to date with the current times, practice and evidence. I think most of us would agree these are welcome changes that have been needed for some time, so it is nice to see AIQ leading the way.

Lets now have a look at each of the units in turn. I am aiming to explore each one further so that as the educator, you will be able to deliver the new content effectively.

1. Understanding lifestyle, health, wellbeing and common medical conditions

I am really glad this has been included. There is a habit of over “medicalising” things. The majority of the over 50s have at least one medical problem. Do they all need exercise referral instructors? Definitely not!

We need to make providing exercise and physical activity advice easy and accessible for all those who seek it from our fitness professionals. We definitely do not want to be turning away low risk, well-controlled individuals because they have a condition. The unit focuses on a few common conditions and the key aspect here is to enable students to provide safe advice on exercise and physical activity, as well as ensuring they have a better understanding the condition.

The conditions focused on are the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Cardio-respiratory disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stress

If tutors, within training providers, don’t have their exercise referral qualification, they may find teaching this unit a challenge. Our next webinar will explore the main 5 conditions covered in the new PT qualification. I will also signpost to further reading, to ensure you are prepared to deliver the new qualification. I will cover the 5 conditions in a little more detail than is required for PT to ensure our Active IQ centre’s can deliver the content with confidence. It is going to be a busy hour!


Delivering Chronic Disease Education to the next generation of Personal Trainers
Wednesday 26th April 2017 from 4pm – 5pm

This webinar covers the 5 key chronic disease conditions that need to be covered as part of the new qualification. Dr Vishnubala discusses everything you need to know to deliver this new unit.

2. Encouraging positive health and fitness behaviours in clients

This unit focuses on behaviour change and encompasses a lot of the key points we have discussed in blog no.1 and webinar no.2. There is a fantastic book by the publisher Human Kinetics that I feel, will help tutors in the delivery of this content as well should they wish to learn more.

The key take home message for this unit is to not just discuss theories, but to provide role play opportunities and get “buy in” from your students in order to really benefit from this unit. We have previously talked about the changing face of the NHS, public health pressures and the changing needs of the population. The new breed of qualified AIQ Personal Trainers will hopefully have a better understanding of behaviour change and be able to play a key role in both the retention of clients and the improvement of their health behaviours.

3. Professionalism and business acumen for personal trainers

Many current personal trainers will admit that this is something not covered by a large number of training providers and does not have any significant weight in the old units. However, we all know that regardless of good your PT student is, if they cannot run their business and do not recognise the importance of professionalism, marketing, sales, PR, basic accounting and other such business skills, it is going to be hard to be successful.

This unit will hopefully help to address this and ensure our Active IQ PT students have the business skills to rise to the top. Again we will be exploring this unit in our blog series in due course.

As you can see from the units table above, the remaining units are similar to the previous PT qualification. I urge you to take the time to look at the new qualification and be clear about the differences. Once you are happy, perhaps consider carrying out a pilot course with a small group of students and reflect on the new course you have delivered and implement the appropriate changes before a full rollout.

As always the Active IQ team are available to answer questions and help you transition over to the new units which I’m sure you will agree makes for a better qualification that’s fit for our current times and challenges.

Do check out the Qualification Guidance for more details.

I look forward to seeing on the next webinar focusing on the chronic conditions that need to be covered in the new personal trainer qualification.


Best wishes,

Active IQ Chief Medical Advisor