What is CIMSPA?

What is CIMSPA Banner

If you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer, you’ll most likely have come across CIMSPA. But some things you might be asking are exactly what is CIMSPA? Do you need a CIMSPA membership to be a personal trainer? Is CIMSPA internationally recognised?

We answer all of these questions in our ultimate guide to CIMSPA membership! We’ll cover:

Before we get started, start your career as a personal trainer today with our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma. Enquire today or download our course prospectus to learn more!


Start Your Career With OriGym

Enquire about our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma today! 

Who are CIMSPA?

Who are CIMSPA - Logo

You’re likely wondering, what does CIMSPA stand for? 

CIMSPA stands for ‘The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity’. Founded in 2012, they are the professional development body for sport and physical activity.

According to CIMSPA’s website, their overall mission is to:

...shape a respected, regulated and recognised sector that everyone wants to be a part of, and that others are confident interacting with.

In other words, they aim to provide regulation across the sport and fitness industry, ensuring high standards of practice. They are committed to supporting, developing, and enabling fitness professionals to succeed, inspiring others to become more active as a whole.

CIMSPA believes that by supporting, developing and enabling fitness professionals, people will have more confidence in the sector and want to be part of it.

What is a CIMSPA Endorsed Qualification?

Receiving CIMSPA Recognised Qualification

CIMSPA works across a range of areas in the sport and fitness sector. However, their main area of focus is training and education.

One of their principal roles is to create and establish a set of industry training and qualification standards. This ensures all fitness professionals qualify with a high standard of knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively.

CIMSPA PT Course Qualification

The answer to ‘what is a CIMSPA qualification’ is simple - The statement simply refers to a course that has received official endorsement from the professional development body. If a qualification meets these standards it will be advertised as being ‘CIMSPA endorsed/endorsed by CIMSPA’.

Receiving training that meets CIMSPA professional standards will significantly increase your job prospects, which will become more apparent as you progress through the article.

What Does CIMSPA Do?

What Does CIMSPA Do?

So, we hope you now have a clearer answer to the question, ‘What is CIMSPA?’ and their overall mission.

But you may now be wondering, exactly what do CIMSPA do and how do they intend to provide regulation across the sport and fitness sector?

Some of the key practical steps that CIMSPA take include:

  • Working with key stakeholders in the fitness sector to establish standards of practice.
  • Advising employers, awarding organisations, education institutes, training course providers and policymakers on how they can implement these standards of practice.
  • Holding an annual conference where all areas of the sector come together to discuss new ideas, regulations, and the future of the industry.
  • Offering CIMSPA membership for students and professionals in the sport and fitness sector.

Are EREPS and CIMSPA the Same Thing?

CIMSPA or REPS Ireland

Although CIMSPA and the European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS) are both regulating bodies that carry out similar duties, they’re two separate organisations! 

However, both organisations do recognise one another through the memorandum of understanding. This means those in Ireland no longer need to worry whether their qualification will be recognised by REPS or CIMSPA, as you can technically hold membership with both organisations. 

This agreement means any European fitness professionals based in the UK can use their EREPS accreditation to join the CIMSPA Exercise and Fitness Directory. This is a list of professionals whose qualifications have been recognised by CIMSPA.

REPS and CIMSPA Directory

Similarly, EREPS will recognise and accept the registration of any applicant registered on the Exercise and Fitness Directory for CIMSPA in Ireland. This gives exercise professionals in the UK the freedom to work anywhere across Europe.

Both directories still uphold their own practices and governance, maintaining their separate working relationships! 

Do I Need a CIMSPA-Endorsed Qualification?

CIMSPA Recognised Qualification

As we’ll discuss later in this article, you don’t technically need an individual CIMSPA membership to become a PT. Instead, it’s more important to ensure your personal trainer qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA.

But what is 'CIMSPA endorsement' and why is it so important?

The main reason is simply that if a qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA, you can be sure it has met the highest industry standards. This means you can feel confident you’ll be taking a high-quality course and qualify with the level of skills and knowledge necessary to become a successful personal trainer.

If you see the CIMSPA logo on any kind of fitness course, this is essentially a ‘stamp of approval’ and proof of a high-quality course!

Who are CIMSPA - Logo

This is why here at OriGym, all of our fitness courses such as our Level 4 Personal Training Course, are endorsed by CIMSPA.

To achieve this endorsement, CIMSPA assesses the course in relation to a set of criteria in areas such as:

  • Quality of teaching materials
  • Quality of teaching
  • Assessment criteria
  • Amount of tutor support

If a qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA, you can be sure it meets industry standards in each of these areas! 

It’s also important to note that getting this CIMSPA endorsement costs the training provider money. This is why the majority of free or very low-cost personal training courses will not be endorsed by CIMSPA and so aren’t worthwhile!

- - - - 

Now you know why it’s important to get a CIMSPA PT course, check out our articles below to see how you can break into the industry and be a success:


Start Your Career With OriGym

Enquire about our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma today! 

What is CIMSPA Membership?

CIMSPA Membership

As we have mentioned, one of the ways CIMSPA regulates the fitness industry is by offering ‘membership’ to those who hold endorsed qualifications.

Now comes the question - What is CIMSPA membership? 

According to their website, a CIMSPA membership:

‘...recognises your professional status, helps you achieve your career ambitions, and gives you a range of additional benefits’.

Practically anyone involved in the sport and fitness sector can become a member of CIMSPA, including:

  • Personal trainers
  • Gym instructors
  • Yoga instructors
  • Group exercise class instructors
  • Strength and conditioning coaches
  • Leisure staff 

Fitness Professionals CIMSPA Recognised Qualifications

There are 4 main categories of CIMSPA membership to choose from:

  1. Students and recent graduates. This membership is for those either currently working towards a fitness qualification or who have just qualified. This costs around €35 per year
  2. Management professionals. This is for ‘existing and aspiring sport and physical activity managers’. For example, if you’re a gym manager, you can apply for this membership. This option costs €164 a year
  3. Practitioners. This is for ‘frontline professionals across the sport and physical activity sector’. This is perhaps the most popular membership, as it covers all qualified practising fitness professionals, including personal trainers, fitness instructors, yoga instructors, and leisure centre staff. This membership costs €35 a year
  4. Affiliate. This is for those who aren’t directly working in the sector, but simply have an interest in it. For example, those who aren’t qualified practitioners but work in HR or administration. There is no cost for this membership.
  5. Chartered membership. This is the highest level of CIMSPA membership. To become a member, you have to complete an assessment to prove you demonstrate ‘excellence’ and have made a “significant impact” to the sector over time. The cost of this membership is between €164 to €263 a year.

As you can see, there are a range of membership options depending on where you fit into the sport and fitness sector. For more details on what each option entails, check out the membership section of the CIMSPA website.

Is CIMSPA Membership Recognised Worldwide?

Is CIMSPA Recognised Worldwide?

If you’re looking to work as a personal trainer abroad, you may be asking ‘is CIMSPA recognised worldwide?’

The good news is that all CIMSPA-endorsed qualifications are internationally recognised!

In other words, a Level 4 Personal Training course which is endorsed by CIMSPA will be recognised by employers abroad. This is why it’s crucial you choose a reputable course provider such as OriGym if you want to work outside of Ireland!

Personal Trainer with CIMSPA Qualifications

In most cases, in order to transfer your qualification you will simply need to register with the relevant professional body for that country and submit your certificates.

For example, as previously discussed, due to the memorandum of trust a CIMSPA recognised qualification will also allow you to register with the EREPS dictionary. In doing so, you can apply for jobs synch as the example below:

Job ad with REPS and CIMSPA Qualfication Requirement

Let’s take another example for those looking to work in Australia. In this instance, you’d register with AUSactive, who recognise CIMSPA qualifications and require trainers to hold relevant first aid training. 

For more information on this topic, check out our guide on becoming a personal trainer in Australia!

Do Personal Trainers Need CIMSPA Membership?

PT with CIMSPA Recognised Qualifications

If you’re thinking about becoming a personal trainer, you may be wondering if you really need CIMSPA membership. 

Technically, you don’t need an individual CIMSPA membership to become a personal trainer. It simply acts to benefit your professional career, enabling you to:

  • Enhance your employability through access to resources. This includes a network of employers who can help you find a job at the end of your course. You will also gain access to eLearning materials via the ‘CIMSPA Academy’.
  • Create an online profile listing your qualifications and work experience, which can then be shared with potential employers.
  • Access to the CIMSPA member newsletter, featuring news and trends in the industry.
  • Job vacancy alerts.
  • Register with international bodies such as EREPS and Fitness Australia.

Although it's not a 'necessity', all personal trainers should consider purchasing membership to experience these benefits first hand.

What is the Difference Between CIMSPA and Focus Awards?

Focus Awards and CIMSPA Professional Standards

Another name you may have come across in your search for a personal training course is Focus Awards. But just what is the difference between this and CIMSPA, and how are they related? 

Focus Awards is an awarding body that develops nationally recognised qualifications for a wide range of areas and sectors - including personal training courses.

Once Focus Awards have developed a qualification, CIMSPA then checks if it meets their regulations and standards of practice. If successful, this means it’s officially recognised by CIMSPA. 

Personal Trainer with CIMSPA Recognised Qualifications

Focus Awards are also regulated by Ofqual, the Government body responsible for setting the frameworks for vocational course levels. They ensure all awarding bodies (including Focus Awards) adhere to those frameworks.

Some other Ofqual-regulated awarding bodies are:

  • YMCA Awards
  • Active IQ
  • NCFE 

CIMSPA PT Course Awarding Bodies

Here at OriGym, all of our personal training courses are awarded by Focus Awards. You can see the full list of qualifications awarded by Focus Awards here. 

To explain the relationship between Focus Awards and CIMSPA regarding personal training courses, let’s break down the different organisations involved in our Level 4 Personal Trainer course:

  • OriGym are the course providers, meaning they’re the ones who actually deliver the qualification, including things such as teaching the content (whether online or in-person), providing course materials, and conducting/assessing exams. 
  • Focus Awards is the awarding body, meaning they actually give you your qualification and certify you as a personal trainer when you graduate. They are the ones who give your qualification its official name.
  • This qualification is endorsed by CIMSPA, meaning the course has met the standards of practice for the industry. 
  • Finally, the course is then regulated by Ofqual (the office who regulates examinations, qualifications, and assessments) to ensure it meets industry standards.

Just like CIMSPA, Focus Awards is a well-known and highly reputable name in the fitness industry. Employers will recognise it as a sign you have received a high standard of education, making you more desirable as a potential employee if they see this name on your personal trainer CV. 

Reading CIMSPA Recognised Qualifications on CV

To summarise, when choosing a personal training course, you should make sure it’s not only endorsed by CIMSPA but also awarded by an Ofqual-regulated awarding body, such as Focus Awards. This will give you peace of mind that you’re taking a legitimate, high-quality course and will enhance your career prospects!

Before You Go!

If you started this article wondering ‘what is CIMSPA?’, you now have a clear answer! With this in mind, you can start your career in the best way with our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma.

Enquire today, or browse the full range of fitness courses available by downloading our free course prospectus here.


Start Your Career With OriGym

Enquire about our CIMSPA-endorsed Personal Trainer Diploma today! 

Written by Alice Williams

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Alice is a content writer at OriGym. With a first-class degree in French and Linguistics, she loves all things language, fitness and culture. As part of her degree, she spent a year living in France where she worked for a lifestyle blog, gaining professional experience in both translation and content writing. 

When she’s not writing, you can usually find Alice practicing yoga and she hopes to one day become a yoga instructor herself. She also loves running, tennis and cooking up a vegan storm in the kitchen! It was this passion for health and fitness, combined with her love for writing, that brought Alice to OriGym.

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