Exercise. For every body.

Discover how to provide specialist advice to make your fitness training services truly inclusive.

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woman in wheelchair in gym

Exercise specialist courses and qualifications

Step up your career with our range of exercise specialist courses. Today’s exercise professionals must be equipped with a higher level of knowledge and skills to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Whether it’s older adults, pregnant women or new mums, clients with disabilities, or those affected by chronic illnesses or disease, our exercise specialist courses will give you everything you need to make a difference with your specialist population. Browse our range of specialist fitness courses, or use the following buttons to go direct to what you’re looking for.

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Inclusivity. As standard.

We're experts in delivering exercise specialist courses and qualifications that celebrate inclusivity and equip fitness professionals with the essential knowledge and skills to meet the individual physical, mental and emotional needs for a diverse range of clients, irrespective of their health and medical status. Our exercise specialist courses champion the spirit of inclusivity and are designed to help you succeed in providing a superior level of support to your clients.

  • Equal, but not the same

    Discover how to customise exercise programmes to improve outcomes and access for a wide range of clients with differing health and medical needs.

  • Expert content and delivery

    Expertly crafted content developed by a multi-disciplinary team, including fitness professionals, medical doctors, dieticians, midwives and physiotherapists.

  • Unlimited possibilities

    Reach a wider range of clients in need of specialist exercise advice and instruction with our range of technically rich special population courses.

Learn from the best

A key feature of all of all of our exercise specialist courses and qualifications is that we have leading clinical experts delivering the technical underpinning knowledge. This ensures that you get the very best quality education, which is far more important than a certificate.

  • Presented by clinical experts

    Our exercise specialist courses and qualifications are developed and delivered by multi-disciplinary team experts, including medical doctors, physiotherapists and dieticians.

  • Outstanding support

    Our friendly, knowledgeable and caring support team will be on-hand to guide and support you throughout your learning.

  • Leading materials

    When you enrol, you’ll receive a wide range of quality print and digital training manuals, on-demand lecture videos to keep you engaged throughout your course.

Physiotherapist lecture content on iPhone screen

*Images and videos are for illustration purposes and may not depict specific course materials.

Our courses, your way

We have a range of ways in which you can complete our special population courses, including attended in-person programmes, online and virtual delivery.

HFE tutor holding iPad

Exercise specialist courses near you

Combine the flexibility of home study with attended face-to-face weekend training courses to upgrade your special population knowledge and skills.

Pre and Postnatal lecture on iMac screen

Online exercise specialist courses

Self-paced online courses that seamlessly combine distance learning, telephone support and online lectures to get you ahead in your career.

Special populations
career packages: Level 3

Our career packages combine individual courses into a single study bundle to provide you with a more cost-effective and comprehensive learning experience with one or more special population groups. Give your career a lift with our range of exceptional specialism courses.

Pregnant client

Specialist

From £875

Special Populations

Learn how to understand and overcome the specific needs and challenges for a range of special populations clients including pre and postnatal, older adults, and exercise referral clients with our Specialist package.

Courses Included:

  • Level 3 Exercise Referral Instructor

  • Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Instructor

  • Level 3 Older Adult Instructor

0% payment plans

Interest-free
payment plan
£104
per month
Get started with a deposit of £250
See Plans
5% discount
for prompt payment
save £43.75
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Elite

From £1210

Special Populations

Take the steps to becoming an elite trainer with our Elite package which will give you the skills and confidence to support clients with diverse and specific needs including pre and postnatal, older adults, clients with disabilities and exercise referral clients.

Courses Included:

  • Level 3 Exercise Referral Instructor

  • Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Instructor

  • Level 3 Exercise for Clients with Disabilities

  • Level 3 Older Adult Instructor

0% payment plans

Interest-free
payment plan
£160
per month
Get started with a deposit of £250
See Plans
5% discount
for prompt payment
save £60.50
special pops master

Master

From £1280

Special Populations

Master the field and develop a diverse and inclusive skillset with our Master package. This package will teach you how to adapt to the specific and varied needs of exercise referral clients, pre and postnatal clients, and older adults, while also studying anatomy, physiology and nutrition elements.

Courses Included:

  • Level 3 Exercise Referral Instructor

  • Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Instructor

  • Level 3 Older Adults Instructor

  • Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology

  • Level 3 Nutrition to Support Physical Activity

0% payment plans

Interest-free
payment plan
£171
per month
Get started with a deposit of £250
See Plans
5% discount
for prompt payment
save £64

Individual special populations
courses: Level 3

If you don’t find a career package to suit you, or you’d rather take a more step-by-step approach to becoming an exercise specialist, then take a look at our range of individual career specialism courses below.

Level 3 Adapting Exercise for Older Adults

Level 3 Adapting Exercise for Older Adults


Our ageing population is growing rapidly as people live longer. Staying fit and active is important to preserve quality of life and independence. Get the specialist knowledge, skills and qualifications to work effectively with older adults.

Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients

Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients


Learn how to meet the diverse needs of a range of people with disabilities with this YMCA Award qualification. Be at the forefront of promoting inclusion equality within your fitness training services with this IFI accredited programme.

Level 3 GP Exercise Referral Diploma

Level 3 GP Exercise Referral Diploma


Many clients live with chronic conditions and illnesses. This course equips you with the skills and knowledge to make a difference to the lives of these clients by implementing effective changes and management strategies.

Level 3 Optimum Nutrition for Pre and Postnatal Clients

Level 3 Optimum Nutrition for Pre and Postnatal Clients


Discover how to provide optimum evidence-based nutrition advice and education to pregnant women and those breastfeeding. This online interactive course will teach you all you need to know to tailor your healthy eating advice and nutrition advice.

Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Exercise Instructor

Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Exercise Instructor


Equip yourself with the specialist knowledge, skills and confidence to design safe, effective and restorative exercise and fitness programmes for pre and postnatal women. This qualification is essential is you want to market your services specifically to this audience.

COVID Confident – COVID-19 Recovery Course

COVID Confident – COVID-19 Recovery Course


Play your part in helping those affected by COVID-19, including long COVID, return to their previous fitness levels with this ground-breaking CPD course.

Exercise specialist
career packages: Level 4

Our exercise specialist career packages combine the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral (the entry requirement for level 4 qualifications) with a qualification in the area you want to specialise in order to help you fast-track your pathway to becoming a qualified exercise specialist.

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Low Back Pain

From £705.00

Exercise Specialist

Combine the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral with the Level 4 Exercise for Low Back Pain Certificate and learn how to help clients better manage and overcome low back pain.

Courses Included:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral

  • Level 4 Exercise for Low Back Pain Certificate

0% payment plans

Interest-free
payment plan
£75
per month
Get started with a deposit of £250
See Plans
5% discount
for prompt payment
save £35.25
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Obesity & Diabetes

From £775.00

Exercise Specialist

Complete the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral with the Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes Certificate and help overweight and obese clients effectively tackle their weight and improve their health.

Courses Included:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral

  • Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes Certificate

0% payment plans

Interest-free
payment plan
£87
per month
Get started with a deposit of £250
See Plans
5% discount
for prompt payment
save £38.75

Individual exercise specialist courses: Level 4

Already hold a recognised exercise referral qualification and looking to upskill to level 4? If so, then take a look at our range of individual exercise specialist courses and qualifications below.

Level 4 Low Back Pain Certificate

Level 4 Low Back Pain Certificate


Master a range of evidence-based exercise and lifestyle interventions to help those affected with chronic and acute low back pain to better manage and recover from this debilitating condition.

Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes Certificate

Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes Certificate


Play your part in supporting obese and diabetic clients to improve their health outcomes and better control their condition through exercise and dietary interventions with this ground-breaking level 4 qualification.

HFE extras and exclusives

In addition to providing a high quality learning experience at an incredibly competitive price, we’ll also supply you with a range of added value features and services with each of our exercise specialist courses to help you to get your future career underway. Some of these include:

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CV Connect

Our advanced recruitment solution instantly connects your CV with thousands of fitness and leisure operators near you, and you're sure to be in high demand after completing one of our exercise specialist courses. If you’re looking for a new opportunity, we’ll get you connected...

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Exclusive offers and discounts

Once you've completed your course with us, you'll unlock access to a huge range of generous offers and discounts from various fitness brands and equipment providers, so you can be sure to have a steady start to your exercise specialist career.

Outstanding support

As is standard with all HFE courses, support is completely unlimited and throughout your studies, you’ll have access to a team of passionate and enthusiastic Learning Support Tutors who will be ready and waiting to answer any support questions you may have about your exercise specialist course or future career. Typically, we support our learners in the following ways:

  • Phone

  • Email

  • Webinar

  • Video chat

HFE support tutor on phone in HFE head office

Reputation is everything

We’ve trained tens of thousands of exercise professionals, exercise specialists, nutrition coaches and sports massage therapists over the years and we’re proud of the things our students have gone on to achieve. We're also proud of our students rating us so highly.

Read more reviews

If you’re interested in finding out why our students rate their HFE learning experience as 5-star, then take a look at some of the reviews.

HFE.co.uk
1669 reviews |
4.9
out of 5
All Reviews
james crossley hunter

"HFE is the ultimate fitness training provider. Without a doubt their personal training courses are the best in the industry."

James Crossley

(Hunter from Gladiators)
HFE yoga graduate Laura Massaro during squash match

"The course has really helped me to better understand yoga so that I can improve my performance and remain World No. 1."

Laura Massaro

(Former World #1 Squash Player)
HFE graduate Holly Bradshaw holding GB flag at Olympics

"HFE have been fantastic and have produced some of the best materials I've seen in the fitness industry."

Holly Bradshaw

(Team GB Olympic Bronze Medalist Pole Vaulter, 2020 Olympic Games)
HFE student Louise Fiddes holding gold medal

"HFE were understanding and the course is really flexible. I knew this would be perfect for me."

Louise Fiddes

(GB Paralympic Swimmer World Champion )
Antonia Johnston yoga

"I did my ETM and yoga teacher training with HFE and thoroughly enjoyed both... I highly recommend them."

Antonia Johnston

(Co-Founder of YogaFit Retreats)
Kardy Laguda, renowned exercise to music instructor

"I've seen a lot of providers in my career and HFE are by far the most professional and committed provider I've seen."

Kardy Laguda

(International Fitness Presenter)

Frequently asked exercise specialist questions

It's only natural that you'll have questions about our Level 4 Exercise Specialist courses and how these are delivered and supported. We've answered some of the most frequently asked questions below, but if there is anything else that you'd like to know, reach out to our friendly Careers Team on 0800 612 4067.

  • Do I need any prior qualifications to enrol?

    These qualifications are largely designed for qualified fitness professionals and so you will need to hold as a minimum a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instruction. Additionally, once you have completed your qualification, you can only teach exercise in the context of your specific qualifications (gym, exercise to music, circuit training etc). For example, if you have a gym instructor and pre and postnatal (PPN) qualification, you can only work with the PPN clients in a gym environment.

    If you are considering the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral, we also recommend that you hold a Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training – while this isn’t mandatory, it will help you greatly with the programme and will enable you to focus exclusively on the medical conditions element of the course. The exercise referral course cost does not include the anatomy and nutrition modules which must also be completed to achieve this qualification.

    In order to enrol on a Level 4 Exercise Specialist course, you must already hold, or be working towards a Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral (or equivalent). Don’t worry however if you haven’t yet booked your place on this course because we have a variety of packages that combine and discount the Level 4 and exercise referral qualifications when they are booked together.

  • What can I expect to learn on my Level 4 course?

    This largely depends on the specific pathway you select. Generally, speaking, you’ll gain a deep understand of your chosen medical condition and how to effectively programme exercise and physical activity for individuals with these conditions.

    Our Level 4 Exercise Specialist courses are all presented by leading doctors in their respective fields, meaning that you get the most accurate and reliable information about the content and pathway you are studying.

    You’ll also learn about the medications used to control these conditions, their side effects and how to assess and monitor patients’ progress throughout their exercise journey. These qualifications really are packed with lots of advanced knowledge and skills to enable you to meet the specific needs of their target population.

  • How will I be supported on my Level 4 course?

    As a HFE student you’ll be supported continuously throughout the course. During the home-study phase of these exercise specialist courses, you’ll have a dedicated Learner Support Tutor who will guide you through your course. The practical element of the course is delivered by a team of highly qualified and experienced fitness industry and medical professionals.

    In addition to our team, these exercise specialist courses are also extremely well resourced. You’ll receive training manuals, awarding winning online learning materials, mock exams, interactive worksheets, video lectures and much more. Our support and resources really are second to none.

  • What career opportunities are available once I qualify?

    As a Level 4 Exercise Specialist, a number of employment and career opportunities will open up. A popular career path is to work in a formal exercise referral scheme, providing specialist exercise instruction to clients referred by their GP.

    Other opportunities also include working privately with patients suffering from these specific conditions, working with weight management groups, physiotherapists, chiropractors and podiatrists to provide specialist exercise advice. It’s perhaps important to stress here that even when you’ve completed these qualifications, you’ll still be required to work alongside clinicians and other members of the medical community.

  • What will I learn on your specialism courses?

    This ultimately depends on the pathway and courses that you select. Generally speaking:

    Exercise Referral is concerned with planning and structuring exercise for clients that have been referred to an exercise professional from their GP, and requires a deep understanding of a wide-range of medical conditions, including: obesity, diabetes, low back pain, arthritis, high cholesterol, stress, anxiety and high blood pressure.

    Exercise for Older Adults is concerned with adapting exercise programmes to the specific needs of the elderly and less able clients – this also involves developing a broad understanding of common medical conditions affecting this group of people.

    Exercise for Pre and Postnatal Clients explores how exercise can benefit pregnant women and new mothers, and what is and isn’t appropriate.

    Exercise for Disabled Clients promotes inclusion and enables an instructor to effectively work with clients with disabilities.

  • Are your specialism courses accredited?

    All of our special populations courses are certificated by YMCA Awards, the industry’s most widely sought-after awarding body.

    Some of our more speciality programmes, like eating disorders and nutrition for pre and postnatal clients are endorsed CPD courses rather than regulated qualifications. This is because Ofqual don’t have a regulated qualification framework for these subjects because they are so specialist. These courses are however still endorsed by YMCA Awards and undergo rigorous quality assurance, both here at HFE and at YMCA Awards.

    All of our special populations qualifications are also endorsed and supported by CIMSPA.

    Our Level 4 courses are certificated by Active IQ and are fully recognised by all fitness industry employers. They are also recognised by the industry’s professional body, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA).

    We have also had our Level 4 Exercise Specialist courses endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine, to provide our graduates with an extra accreditation and recognition of their achievements.

  • Will I be able to find work once I've qualified?

    The demand for those who have the knowledge to work with special populations has never been higher. To give some context: between 1985 and 2015, the number of UK citizens aged 65 or over increased by 20% to 10.3 million; there are approximately 600,000 registered births every year; and the World Health Organisation (WHO) continues to report that obesity is a worldwide epidemic.

    Recent reports have revealed that in 1 in 5 people in the UK has a disability yet only 18% of adults with a disability undertake more than 30 minutes exercise a week.

  • How difficult are these courses?

    These exercise specialist qualifications are designed for exercise professionals (not doctors) so you don’t have to worry about failure. All of the content that you need to know is provided and our team of expert tutors will explain exactly what you need to do – all you need to do is work hard and follow the programme.

    The Level 4 Exercise Specialist courses do not have knowledge-based assessments and so you don’t have to worry about passing any tricky exams. What you will need to do, however, is develop a sound understanding of the relevant medical conditions and your ability to assess, design and instruct exercise to patients with these conditions effectively.

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