Personal trainer certification: What you need to know…

What level of regulation for exists in the UAE’s fitness industry?

The fitness industry in Dubai is regulated by Dubai Sports Council. It’s mandatory for all fitness professionals to be registered with the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs UAE).


Why is registration important?

Registration with REPs ensures a common standard of quality and safety in the fitness industry, which is in the interest of the general public, and the industry as a whole. It’s also connected to your professional insurance and your ability to work in public and private gyms in the UAE, as most will ask to see your REPs card before giving you access.


Who needs to register?

Everyone working with private clients or the general public should be registered. This includes personal trainers, gym instructors, assistant fitness instructors, group exercise teachers, yoga and Pilates teachers, and aqua instructors.


How do I become registered?

Submit your qualifications, fitness CV and other documents to REPs UAE along with a AED400 annual fee. If your qualifications meet the required standards, you’ll be given full membership to REPs. If you are unqualified or your qualifications do not meet the standard, you’ll be given a provisional membership and you’ll have 12 months to qualify or convert your qualification.


How do I convert a provisional membership to a full REPs membership?

You’ll need to pass examinations of one of the REPs UAE approved entry courses. One of the most popular routes is to take the Level 2 Gym Instructor or Level 3 Personal Trainer courses which lead to the YMCA Awards assessments. The courses are offered by Empiric and YMCA Awards are highly regarded as some of the highest quality certifications in the fitness industry.

If you have already studied for a similar qualification overseas, it’s possible that you won’t need to take the full L2 and L3 courses. Through Empiric’s Test Centre service we can assess your readiness to sit the exams without taking the full course. One of our tutors will give you a short knowledge test, identify gaps in your knowledge and practice, and give a recommendation on whether or not you need to sit the full course or should go straight to the exams.


What is the penalty for unregistered fitness professionals?

While Dubai Sports Council has not specified the penalties for unlicensed fitness professionals, they are expected to make a statement clarifying this very soon. It’s likely that the biggest penalties will lie with the employers — gyms, hotels, property management companies — which is why it’s essential for Fitness Managers to ensure that all of their staff are properly trained, qualified and registered.

While gyms are likely to face the biggest risks, it’s highly unlikely that unlicensed professionals will be exempt from penalties. If gyms are penalised for employing unlicensed professionals, then job opportunities will no longer exist for anyone without a licence, and those already in employment will be risking their jobs. Whether the authorities decide to lay financial penalties on the trainers as well as the gyms is a possibility that remains to be seen.


How does this affect me now?

Registration for fitness professionals has been mandatory since 2014 and Dubai Sports Council have the authority to carry out spot checks on clubs, so if you’re training clients without a licence, you are taking a big risk.

A new announcement from Dubai Sports Council outlining the penalties for unregistered fitness professionals and clubs employing unregistered professionals is expected imminently. Don’t wait for the announcement and don’t risk the potential penalties. If you’re not registered, do it now. If you need to qualify or update your qualifications, contact Empiric’s Test Centre. If you’re a fitness manager with unlicensed members of your team, get them on a course ASAP.