Accessibility links

Physical Activity and Fitness (Personal Training and Sports Massage) Level 3 Diploma at South Downs College

Course description

  • Highly motivated individuals who are looking to work as a Personal Trainer and/or as a Sports Massage Therapist.
  • A new and exciting qualification within fitness.
  • To learn and develop skills that encompass all aspects of the fitness profession allowing success as a self-employed Personal Trainer or a future progression to university.

This course is highly respected within the Health and Fitness industry which will prepare you for employment in health clubs, private practices with amateur or professional athletes and sports performers.

You will build a skill set covering lifestyle appraisal, planning and delivery of personal training in one-to-one and group settings as well as a holistic profile to prevent and manage injuries in sport and active leisure.

As an integral part of this course you will cover functional anatomy and physiology, advanced exercise programming techniques, nutrition, sports injuries and the rehabilitation to support the practical skills you will cover.

The qualifications entitle you to gain entry to the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) at Level 3 and Sports Massage Association (SMA)

Course content

This qualification has an equal mix of theory and practical elements that will develop skills in:

  • Develop their understanding of anatomy, physiology and nutrition and how they relate to exercise and fitness.
  • Understand the roles and career pathways available in active leisure.
  • Be able to plan and instruct safe and effective exercise and physical activity sessions.
  • Be able to deliver safe and effective personal training sessions.
  • Be able to deliver exceptional customer service.
  • Be able to manage their personal and professional development.
  • Be able to develop enterprise skills.
  • Be able to market and sell products and services.
  • Understand how technology is used within physical activity, fitness, sport and exercise.
  • Understanding principles of soft tissue dysfunction.
  • Sports massage treatments.

The course is designed to ensure you develop the necessary practical skills to deliver effective treatments and full participation is essential.

The course consists of:

  • Principles of anatomy, physiology and fitness
  • Planning and instructing gym-based exercise
  • Principles of customer care
  • Working in active leisure facilities
  • Health and safety in the workplace
  • Managing personal and professional development

Additional units comprise

  • Planning and instructing group exercise to music
  • Planning a circuit training session
  • Instructing a circuit training session
  • Planning a kettlebell exercise session
  • Instructing a kettlebell exercise session
  • Principles of nutrition for healthy lifestyles
  • Developing exceptional customer care skills
  • Enterprise and entrepreneurship
  • Understand the principle of soft tissue dysfunction


Entry requirements

A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including, English, Science and preferably Maths.

BTEC Sports students on the Diploma programme will need a Distinction/Merit profile and those on the Extended Diploma programme will require a Distinction/ Merit/ Merit profile.

Entry to the course is also subject to interview.  

Students who have achieved a Certificate in Fitness Instructing would of had to of passed A&P within the first attempt.


Assessment is ongoing over the academic year and incorporates internal and external assessment.

You will undertake a combination of practical assessments, multiple choice and short answer theory papers, case studies and written assignments.

The external set and externally mark multiple choice theory exams will make up 30% of the qualification. Repeated submissions will not be allowed. Learners’ who fail to reach the required pass mark have only one opportunity to re-sit the exam. The multiple choice theory exam will determine each learners overall grade. Grading will be administrated in the form of pass, merit or distinction.

In addition to this all students will be required to work with real clients for a period of 16 weeks for whom they will plan, deliver and evaluate personal training sessions. This is seen as an essential part of the course – allowing you to practice skills learnt on a day-to-day basis and to enhance your interpersonal and customer service skills.


Financial information

On days you have practical sessions you must bring sports kit, which includes a white T-shirt, navy or black tracksuit bottoms/shorts and trainers. There is the opportunity to purchase a course t-shirt when you start your course and you will be required to provide your own stationery.

There are course manuals supplied by the awarding body (Central YMCA Qualifications) which the College sells on a non-profit making basis. These are not compulsory but are strongly advised as they contain a great deal of supporting information for your year of study and serve as a useful resource once you are certified. There are 4 manuals in total. The College is able to offer a special price of £50.00 for all manuals in colour or £35.00 in black & white.

In addition, you will be given course workbooks (free of charge) by your lecturers to support your studies. These will be your responsibility to maintain and look after.

Future opportunities

You may go straight into the workplace as a Personal Trainer and/or Sports Massage Therapist (either on your own as a self-employed personal trainer/therapist or working for a company within the health and fitness industry).

Once this course has been completed you can also go on to:

  • Study further specific fitness qualifications at Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Progress to university


How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact South Downs College directly.

Last updated date: 09 May 2016

Key information