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What Does Cert 3 In Fitness Allow You To Do ?

July 27, 2022
7 minute read

What does a Cert 3 in Fitness allow you to do? 

This is a good and one of the most controversial questions in the Fitness Industry. The reason why it’s so controversial is because most Personal Trainers don’t really know what a Cert 3 in Fitness allows you to do. 

I know when I first started wanting to work in the Fitness Industry, I asked a friend of mine who was a Personal Trainer and he told me – if you want to teach Group Classes you need a Cert 3 in Fitness and if you want to do 1 on 1 Personal Training then you need a Cert 4 in Fitness. 

I assumed because this guy’s already a Personal Trainer and is already working in the Industry so he must know. Later when I asked my friend how he knew this, he told me “he had a friend who was a Personal Trainer that had told him”. 

And then when I got qualified and people would ask me how they could get qualified, I would tell them the same thing. 

You see where this is going? There’s nothing official, it’s just one person who’s currently working in the industry telling another person what someone else told them… Which may have been form years ago and with an outdated certification. 

So when I actually started to dive deeper into what a Cert 3 in Fitness actually allows you to do. First thing I did was post in the Fitness Education Online Facebook Group asking over 15,000 Fitness Professionals what they thought. 

And most of them said the same thing 

“A Cert 3 for Group” and a “Cert 4 for 1 on 1”

And I followed up and asked them where they read that, the response was the same - “my friend told me”.

So I decided I was going to do some digging and get to the bottom of things.

I wanted to speak to all the big players involved so I contacted

  • AUSactive: the peak registration body for Personal Trainers in Australia
  • Marsh and Guild Insurance: two of the biggest Personal Trainer insurance agencies 
  • Numerous RTO’s

From speaking to all these organisations I found that the unbiased source was https://training.gov.au/.

This is the official website of the Australian Government so it overrules anything else.

Depending on when you’re reading this blog – what a Cert 3 in Fitness allows you to do may actually change. However, if you always refer to the https://training.gov.au/ website, you’ll always be up to date. 

What Does Cert 3 In Fitness Allow You To Do

At the time (2021), this was ground breaking because you could actually do 1 on 1 Personal Training with a Cert 3 in Fitness

(Note: The certificate has since been changed and updated so this is no longer the case – but at the time you could be a 1 on 1 PT with a Cert 3 in Fitness and pretty much no one in the industry knew!)

So that’s the moral of the story – if you want to see what you can and can’t do – check on the https://training.gov.au/ website. 

I’m going to break down what a Cert 3 in Fitness allows you to do NOW at the time of writing this blog… but by the time you read this blog – the Certificate may have been changed / updated so it’s important you know where to find the information.

The Website

When on the https://training.gov.au/ website, you want to search “Certificate III in Fitness” (this is the official name of the “Cert 3 in Fitness”). 

You’ll get list of all the past and present Certificate III’s in Fitness, make sure to select the current one (at the time of writing this blog is SIS30321).

What Does Cert 3 In Fitness Allow You To Do

This will bring up all the details related to the qualification. What we are interested in is the “qualification description”. 

At the time of writing this blog, the qualification description for a Certificate III in Fitness states

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“This qualification reflects the role of group and gym fitness instructors. These fitness instructors may plan and deliver group exercise sessions and develop gym-based programs for individuals where the level of personalised instruction and ongoing client monitoring is limited. They work in predictable environments under general supervision. When instructing groups or interacting with clients, they use discretion and judgment to solve routine issues within the parameters of clearly defined organisational policies and procedures.

This qualification provides a pathway to work as a fitness instructor in settings such as fitness facilities, gyms, and leisure and community centres.

The skills in this qualification must be applied in accordance with Commonwealth and State or Territory legislation, Australian standards and industry codes of practice.

No occupational licensing, certification or specific legislative requirements apply to this qualification at the time of publication.”

What Does a Cert 3 in Fitness Allow You To Do? 

So if you read current description, a Cert 3 in Fitness graduate can 

  • Plan and deliver group exercise sessions
  • Develop gym based programs 

Plan and Deliver Group Exercise Sessions

Plan and deliver group exercise sessions is pretty straight forward, except for a few key points.

  • This qualification provides a pathway to work as a fitness instructor in settings such as fitness facilities, gyms, and leisure and community centres.
  • They work in predictable environments under general supervision

This basically means the Cert 3 in Fitness qualification isn’t designed for someone who wants to open up their own studio / bootcamp and run the classes without any supervision from a superior. It’s more for someone who wants to teach classes at a gym / fitness facility where there are other trainers, managers, supervisors etc.

Develop Gym Based Programs 

This has always been the grey area in the Cert 3 in Fitness, because where do you draw the line between designing a program for someone and Personal Training? If you design a program for a gym member and take them through that program – is that not just Personal Training? 

Well there’s a few key points here too 

  • Personalised instruction and ongoing client monitoring is limited

That’s the dividing line. If there’s a lot of personalised instruction and / or a lot of ongoing client monitoring – that’s out of scope for a Cert 3 in Fitness.

How Has It Changed? 

The latest version of the Certificate III actually allows you to do less than the previous model. Before the change in 2022, the qualification description for a Cert 3 in Fitness was

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“This qualification reflects the role of instructors who perform a range of activities and functions within the fitness industry. Depending on the specialisation chosen, this qualification provides a pathway to work as an instructor providing exercise instruction for group, aqua or gym programs.

They work independently with some level of autonomy in a controlled environment such as fitness, leisure, aquatic and community centres where risks are managed through pre-existing risk assessment and hazard control processes.

Individuals who specialise in Aqua Exercise Instruction deliver water-based exercise sessions designed for participation by a group of clients. Sessions may be freestyle, pre-choreographed or circuit style. They also have the skills to rescue a client in distress, and an appropriate level of pool deck fitness and endurance.

Individuals who specialise in Group Exercise Instruction deliver exercise sessions designed for participation by a group of clients with a mix of ages/fitness levels. Sessions may be freestyle, pre-choreographed or circuit style. These individuals instruct and demonstrate complete exercise sessions to groups with limited individual interaction.

Individuals who specialise in Gym Instruction provide individually tailored client assessments, provide technique correction as needed, and develop and demonstrate programs. They also provide supervision of a facility or service, keep equipment clean, tidy and well maintained, and handle various customer inquiries.

No occupational licensing, certification or specific legislative requirements apply to this qualification at the time of publication.”

As you can see here, individuals who specialise in Gym Instruction are basically Personal Trainers. They can 

  • Provide individually tailored client assessments
  • Provide technique correction as needed
  • Develop and demonstrate programs

If a Fitness Professional is individually tailoring an assessment, developing and demonstrating a program and providing technique correction – that is basically a Personal Training session! 

That’s one of the major reasons why the Certification was updated – to reduce the confusion between a Certificate III in Fitness and the Certificate IV in Fitness.

Summary 

The Certificate III (and Certificate IV) in Fitness are currently changing and being updated. The only way you can really know what the qualification covers you for is by checking the official Australian Government website https://training.gov.au/.

If you have an older version of the Certification you usually don’t need to redo the certification again. Providing you are registered with AUSactive and have kept your registration current by completing your Personal Trainer CECs – you will still able to register as a Fitness Professional. 

If your registration has lapsed, you are best to contact AUSactive directly, however they usually only require you to complete the required amount of CECs to re-register, which at the time of writing this blog is 20. 

You may also want to contact your insurance agency to confirm you are insured – however if you currently registered with AUSactive – your insurance usually covers you for anything under their scope of practice. 

Other Resources

How to Become a Highly Profitable Rent based Personal Trainer in 2022!

Why you’re overworked & not making over $100,000 per year in your solo PT business & how you can change that in 2 easy steps

Ep 155: How To Be A Successful Rent Based Trainer

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About The Author: Jono Petrohilos
Online Course Creator I 2020 Fitness Australia Educator of the Year

Jono is the co-founder and director at Fitness Education Online. Fitness Education Online is one of the leading providers in the world when it comes to delivering online education to Fitness Professionals, providing over 30 registered CEC courses.

Fitness Education Online is also the admins of the largest Facebook Group in Australia / New Zealand for Fitness Professionals (Fitness Education Online Community Facebook Group).

Jono is also a qualified Exercise Physiologist, best selling author (The Bootcamp Blueprint), and the host of the successful podcast “Fitness Education Online Podcast”.

Jono is the current 2020 Fitness Educator of the Year (awarded by Fitness Australia)

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