For many years the accepted standard for fitness professionals wanting to get started as a Group Exercise Instructor has been the Certificate III in Fitness, while those pursuing a career as a Personal Trainer will complete the Certificate IV in Fitness. Concurrently, we see an alarmingly high drop-out rate of fitness professionals from our industry – as high as 60% within the first 18 months!
So where is the problem?
If you ask fitness industry employers, they will lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Registered Training Providers (RTO’s) who deliver the Certificate IV in Fitness. Their claim is that RTO’s don’t prepare graduates to succeed. However, if you speak to some RTO’s they will claim that this drop-out is due to a lack of support and guidance for new graduates who are engaged under the predominant sub-contractor model.
So who is right & how does this impact your choice of training provider?
At Sport-e-coach we speak to many aspiring fitness professionals, with the large majority asking who they should study with and what should they look for when choosing a training provider. Here are some of my thoughts on what I see as key considerations when making this all-important decision.
- Do they have current relationships with a variety of fitness industry employers?
An ongoing relationship with industry is vital if your chosen RTO is going to help you with viable career options after graduation. Ask the RTO who their industry partners are and where they place successful students? How proactive are they in maintaining these relationships? You can always validate the RTO’s claims here by asking a few of their industry partners about the quality of their graduates!
- Do they provide relevant, on-the-job experience?
Many RTO’s use ‘simulated assessments’ on their campus which is fine, but you should ask yourself ‘how well prepared will I be to train real clients when all I have done is train my classmate in the same environment throughout my course?’ The fitness industry is incredibly diverse, and your chosen training provider should expose you to some of that diversity in its delivery and assessment strategies.
- How will you stand out from every other personal training graduate?
What is the training providers point of difference? Just acquiring a standard Certificate IV in Fitness to me, isn’t enough. Look for a provider that offers you multiple qualifications so you can stand out from the crowd when your resume hits the desk of those PT managers!
- Do you receive personal mentoring or are you just another number in a class?
Mentoring simply means that you receive individualised support from someone who has ‘been there and done that’ in the fitness industry. You need support and advice that is specific to your situation, rather than broad statements that are open to interpretation. Refer to my earlier comment about the diversity that exists in the Australian fitness industry – to build a successful niche business you will need specific advice from a quality mentor. In my opinion, this is most needed after graduation when you enter the industry and need assistance to build your business.
- Are you being educated or entertained?
If you truly want fitness to be your career do you really need to be entertained throughout your training? In my opinion, this is just a way to enhance student satisfaction scores at graduation rather than prepare you for the reality of working as a sub-contractor in the fitness industry. If you are truly self-motivated, your chosen provider simply needs to provide you with the tools you need and offer the right guidance to help you put your skills and knowledge into practice.
So there you have it, my 6 tips for choosing a training provider for your vocational fitness qualifications. The question that you probably have right now is ‘who do you recommend?’ There are plenty of great providers out there, but my recommendation is the International Fitness Institute. These guys have a unique course structure that is like nothing else I have seen.
Graduates receive 1-on-1 mentoring from successful fitness business owners, are educated in operational fitness environments and graduate with the following qualifications:
- Level 1 strength & conditioning coach
- Boxing accreditation
- Certificate III in Fitness
- Certificate IV in Fitness
On top of that, IFI has a growing list of industry partners in a number of different fitness industry sectors. I have seen their graduates in action and they not only know how to train a wide variety of clients effectively, but they also have strong business acumen – including those all-important marketing and sales skills.