The Importance of Clinical Training for Chartered Activity Specialists and Practitioners

The past few years have seen the beginnings of major change in the Health and Fitness industry. The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), funded by Sport England, have been leading the way to help raise standards across the industry.

These changes have been in response to repeated calls from the industry itself to reform Health and Fitness education, training, qualifications and certification. Employers were concerned about a skills gap from Higher Education institutes with universities not offering work experience for students and independent training providers delivering quick and inferior qualifications.

A report published by Future Fit Training, Raising The Bar 2018, compiled in partnership with CIMSPA and ukactive, concluded that employers were not satisfied with many aspects of personal instructor training. For example, assessment methods were deemed to be insufficiently vigorous and practical assessments lacking, with the result that employers often had to retrain newly qualified fitness instructors.

The report also highlighted the fact that fitness trainers were no longer simply working with healthy people but, due to directives from the NHS, government and Sport England, were also working with special populations and children. In the past few years the number of people attending a gym with medical conditions has increased dramatically but almost 90% of employers believe personal trainers do not have the skills to support special populations such as children, older adults and those with, for example, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. With regard to working with children, less than 60% of staff held a children’s fitness qualification highlighting key skills gaps such as communication (with parents and children), behaviour management and group dynamics, child development (cognitive and physical) and motivation techniques.

With the growth in obesity and type 2 diabetes the government has tasked CIMSPA with transforming the workforce so that personal fitness instructors are skilled and appropriately qualified to support these special populations. The positive step of more and more people being prescribed exercise by their GP means that fitness professionals need to have the correct training and knowledge and customers need to be assured that they have a recognised and appropriate qualification for their specific needs.

The “CIMSPA shield” is the trusted “kitemark of quality” for everyone from employers to the general public to look out for. CIMSPA is the professional development body for sport and physical activity in the UK and are backed by government, Sport England and over 300 employer and education partners. Collectively they are building career pathways and a recognised and respected profession for everyone working in the health and fitness sector.


These changes in response to the call for reforms to Health and Fitness education, training, qualifications and certification will also give health and fitness professionals more credibility. CIMSPA recognise that much more needs to be done if fitness professionals are going to successfully work to improve the health and physical activity of the UK population as a whole.

"In the future, we want chartered activity specialists and practitioners who are also clinically trained. There is some cross-pollination work with the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of General Practitioners now, but we want to see more of this."
Tara Dillon, CIMSPA CEO

tahdah is delighted to be working in support of CIMSPA, delivering the technology platform not just to manage professional certification but also the verification and safeguarding we all expect to be inherent within our chosen sports and recreational activities.