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Today's exercise professionals must be equipped with the skills to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population, including older adults, pregnant women, and clients with disabilities.
See what our students have to say about our Special Populations courses.
Overall I'm glad I chose HFE and I'm going on to do exercise referral and a specialism in low back pain.Laura McNally
I cannot recommend HFE highly enough. From the moment I registered I've received comprehensive and thorough support from my Learning Support Tutor, Dani...Mrs J Smith
Good feedback from the course tutor for the two written tasks enabled me to make a couple of adjustments and resend. Would definitely recommend to others in the industry looking...
Read more to work with older adults.
Very supportive tutor Danielle Sharrock and great materials. The mock exams were so useful in my preparationAnonymous
I will definitely use HFE again for furthering my knowledge. Absolutely fantastic course provider.Kerry Luke
I've taken two courses with HFE - level 2 Exercise to Music and level 3 Exercise Referral. Both courses were well run with good support staff in the office and...
Read more good instructors at the workshops.
I started my level3 teaching mat pilates course almost a year ago. Had some delays cause of lockdown, being stuck overseas, etc., and today officially completed my course. For me...
Read more 2020 will be a year to remember for hard work and success, not a waste year cause of covid. I couldn't recommend enough starting something new for yourself! I loved the course and the people at HFE. Janine was so helpful as my online tutor, Amber answered all my questions willingly, my workshop tutor Tracey was FANTASTIC!!! Learned a lot from Anne in my final weekend too. My classmates were amazing. I am going to do pre post natal course too. I loved everything about the course. Couldn't recommend enough.
Just completed my 5th course with HFE (Pre & Postnatal Trainer - Level 3), really good study materials through the post, fantastic support from my tutor Lindsey, a great new...
Read more online learning system and great service from the office. Already signed up for my next one. Highly recommended.
Great course, Good support system!customer
I've used a couple of training providers for various courses over the past few years but HFE is by far the best and most professionalWendy Caygill
Love the way you can just teach yourself in your own time and enjoyed the weekend sessions.Karen Kennedy
This course is amazing, the information and support I got from my tutor was fantastic, if I ever was struggling with anything I just ring my tutor up and he...
Read more would help figure out the issue I was having, also the student manual I received was filled with everything I needed to know and more.
Rated 4.9/5 based on 778 reviews. Showing our 4 & 5 star reviews.
Your direct route to success with a range of special population groups. Expertly-delivered courses, cutting-edge content, interest-free payment plans and hands-on training at a nationwide venue. Please note that the Level 3 Nutrition for Physical Activity and Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology are not included with the Special Populations Diploma.
Discover how to help clients manage chronic illnesses and conditions
Interest-free payment plan - £83 per month
5% discount for prompt payment - save £37.50
Train more clients, tackle more conditions, become a more inclusive professional.
Interest-free payment plan - £117 per month
5% discount for prompt payment - save £47.75
Lead the way and be at the forefront of making a difference in the community
Interest-free payment plan - £171 per month
5% discount for prompt payment - save £64
Making exercise truly inclusive requires a detailed level of knowledge and understanding about the population group and individual you are working with. Featured below are two of our most popular special populations courses. Who will you help?
Exercise referral, also known as GP referral, is a qualification designed to equip exercise professionals with the knowledge and skills to support clients with a range of chronic illnesses and conditions. This is an essential qualification for progressing to Level 4 and beyond.
If you want to work with pre and postnatal clients, you’ll need to develop specialist knowledge about how to adapt exercise for each stage of pregnancy, including post-birth. This essential qualification will give you the knowledge, skills and confidence to do all of this and more.
Becoming an inclusive fitness professional requires a holistic and well-rounded understanding of a range of populations, medical conditions, and how individuals are affected by these. Listed below are some other special populations to may be interested to further differentiate your training services to clients.
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.
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.
Exercise and physical activity play a huge part in improving the health outcomes of people suffering from the effects of COVID-19. Play your part in the recovery process with this interactive online programme.
Equip yourself with the knowledge and understanding to recognise, support and signpost clients that have, or at risk of, eating disorders with this HFE exclusive online programme.
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.
Our range of special populations courses are designed, developed and delivered by leading clinical, research and applied exercise specialists to ensure that you and your future career get the education that you deserve.
Our specialism courses are developed and presented by a team of leading exercise and medical professionals, including:
Throughout your studies, we'll supply you with a wide-range of learning and support materials, including:
Our learning support service is completely unlimited and includes a range of options, including:
From course content, entry requirements and progression routes, we've answered some of the most frequently asked questions about our special populations courses below. If you didn't find what you were looking for, our careers team will be more than happy to assist you on: 0800 612 4067.
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.
Absolutely – this is quite common. With diseases relating to inactivity being at almost epidemic levels, more and more people are now in need of specialist exercise advice. Many of these people may, in fact, present more than one medical condition, so it’s wise to develop a broad and deep understanding in this area.
Our all-inclusive Special Populations Diploma is a programme which offers the greatest value. This combines Level 3 Exercise Referral, Level 3 Pre and Postnatal and Level 3 Exercise for Older Adults into a single competitively priced package.
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.
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.
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.
A popular progression route is to combine special populations qualifications with something like yoga and Pilates because many exercises for both of these disciplines can be adapted to a person’s individual physical needs.
With many of these programmes, location is less important because most of the content is knowledge-based and as such, these courses can be completed in a supported home-study style. You can either come to our nearest venue to take your theory exam (if applicable), or we can arrange for you to sit the exam online with our exam proctoring service. There may be a small surcharge for online exams.
To view all our special population locations, select the button below.View All Locations
Since we opened our doors in 2007, we've trained over 30,000 exercise professionals across a variety of different qualifications, subjects and disciplines. Featured below are a small selection that you might just recognise and here's what they had to say about their HFE training experience.
"HFE is the ultimate fitness training provider, without a doubt their personal training courses are the best in the industry."
"The course has really helped me to better understand yoga so that I can improve my performance and remain World No. 1."
"HFE have produced some of the best materials I have seen in education."
"HFE were understanding and the course is really flexible. I knew this would be the perfect thing for me."
Once your studies are complete and you've completed your training and qualifications, our service to you won't simply stop. Here at HFE, we're all about adding value and there are a number of ways in which we will help you to advance and progress your active leisure career. Some of these are featured below.
When you completed your course, we’ll grant you access to our trademark recruitment service, CV Connect, which will give you access to thousands of health and fitness opportunities throughout the UK.
CV Connect is a simple and intuitive 3-step employment matching service in which you:
We’ll send your CV overnight to the employers you’ve selected and we’ll provide a brief summary of the qualifications you’ve completed with us. We’re told employers love and trust CV Connect because they only get applicants that have completed quality and industry-recognised training.
When you’ve achieved your qualification, our 5-star support team will be on hand as and when you need them to get your career off the ground. Whether its advice about finding your dream job, using CV Connect, or where best to purchase equipment, insurance, or software, our friendly and supportive staff will be on hand to offer their expert advice.
We’ve teamed up with a wide-range of fitness industry organisations, including equipment suppliers, software publishers, providers of marketing resources, supplement wholesalers, insurance providers and many more, to bring to you a range of exclusive offers and discounts that will help you launch or advance your career in the fitness profession.
Whatever your future ambitions are, we’re sure that you’ll be pleased with what our team have negotiated for you. We don’t take any commissions of referral fees on any purchases that you make and we’ll never share your data with these partners – your privacy is far too important for us. We simply give you visibility of what’s on offer.
Exercise is one of those activities that has true universal appeal. So much so that millions wouldn’t consider it merely an activity, for them it’s a passion and a way of life. In today’s modern world we have an incredibly diverse population looking to exercise, to keep fit, and live happier and healthy lives. This includes older adults, pre and postnatal women and clients with disabilities, as well as those suffering from chronic conditions and diseases. In the past, these groups have sadly been greatly underrepresented but with recent and great advances in fitness training and education, this can change. Exercise can and should be for everyone and every body.
Our range of special populations courses and qualifications are designed to empower fitness professionals who are looking to not only increase their client base but truly make a difference to those who have in the past been under-served. To achieve this, we have several expertly-delivered courses which fall under the special populations umbrella and they are Level 3 Exercise Referral Diploma, Level 3 Pre and Postnatal Exercise Instructor, Level 3 Exercise for Older Adults, and Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients.
Each course is CIMSPA approved, accredited by YMCA Awards and internationally-recognised. Every step of the way you’ll receive all the training, support and learning materials you need to become a fully qualified special populations instructor. To start things off you’ll receive bespoke hard copy and digital manuals and 24/7 access to LES, the Learner Engagement System, our online student portal. We also provide unlimited phone and email support from a dedicated tutor.
While each of our special populations courses can be done separately, we’ve created three bespoke career packages. Essentials, Specialist and Master take the Level 3 Exercise Referral Diploma and build upon it with other courses. You’ll also benefit from exclusive extras like discount CIMSPA membership, 12 months of career guidance and access to CV Connect, our innovative system which means you’re only a few clicks away from getting your CV in front of 1000s of employers.
If you’re ready to truly make a difference and elevate your fitness career then choose a special populations course. Within a handful of weeks, you could be making a life-changing impact to pre and postnatal women, older adults, those with disabilities and those with chronic conditions and diseases.Show more