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Specialist Practitioner Course

This is the latest Level 4 offering for exercise professionals who are at the top of their game, and want to achieve ‘Special Practitioner’ status.

The qualification includes the Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral and the choice of either the Level 4 Low Back Pain or Obesity and Diabetes courses, ensuring students are getting a qualification targeting their expertise towards the specific needs of their clients.

Upon successful completion, you will be able to treat clients who have been referred by a GP for Exercise Referral and work in a specialist area, which will be either Low Back Pain or Obesity and Diabetes.

With this in mind, the Specialist Practitioner Diploma is an excellent chance for you to refine your personal training services and excel in your field.

Course Structure and Content

  • What course materials will I receive for the Specialist Practitioner course?

    You will receive a bespoke Exercise Referral manual and an Active IQ Low Back Pain or Obesity and Diabetes manual.

    If you do not hold a Personal Trainer qualification, in order to complete the Anatomy and Physiology and Nutrition units, you’ll also be able to access all the learning materials for this course via our unique online learning portal, a virtual classroom which guides you, section by section, through your course. All the facts and information you require are clearly presented to make learning as easy and enjoyable as possible, there’s even a quiz at the end of each section to test yourself.

  • What will I learn on the Specialist Practitioner course?

    This course is extremely varied, and covers an excellent selection of topics that will help personal trainers to develop their skill set and improve their career prospects.

    This diploma is split into two modules:

    Module 1: Level 3 Exercise Referral Specialist

    • Pathophysiology, treatment and special considerations for:
    • Cardiovascular conditions: Atherosclerosis, hypertension, high cholesterol,
    • Mobility related conditions: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, lordosis, kyphosis, scoliosis, spondylosis (spinal arthritis) joint replacement
    • Mental health conditions: Anxiety, stress and depression
    • Other conditions: obesity, diabetes type 1 & 2, asthma, COPD (chronic bronchitis and emphysema)
    • Related exercise benefits and implications

    Module 2: Level 4 Low Back Pain Specialist

    • Human anatomy, and biomechanics of the spine and lower back.
    • National Guidelines for Management of Low Back Pain
    • Activity/ Inactivity in the prevention and Management of Low Back Pain
    • Epidemiology of Low Back Pain
    • Co-morbidities/ medications and their exercise considerations
    • Psychological/ sociological impact of Low Back Pain
    • Screening/ Assessment techniques for Low Back Pain
    • Planning/ delivering appropriate exercise sessions


    Module 2: Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes Specialist

    • Prevalence and classification of obesity and diabetes
    • Hormonal considerations of obesity and diabetes
    • Genetic influences of obesity and diabetes
    • Development and pathophysiology of obesity and diabetes
    • How to administer 7-site skinfold assessment
    • Historical evidence surrounding obesity
    • Introduction to metabolic syndrome
    • Exercise guidelines and precautions
    • Planning and delivering physical activity and nutritional strategies for obesity and diabetes
    • Causes and the psychological impact of the conditions
  • How is the Specialist Practitioner course delivered?

    A telephone support tutor will help you plan and agree your submission dates for your home study work. Telephone appointments will be arranged so we can keep in close contact with you to give you specific feedback on your learning needs.

    To achieve the Specialist Practitioner Diploma you will be required to complete the Exercise Referral course followed by your choice of Level 4 qualification.

    The Exercise Referral course will require you to complete a series of home study units prior to attending a two-day practical course attendance. Here you will learn the practical and theoretical skills behind programme design and implementation. You will then have six weeks to complete a case study and submit this for assessment prior to attending a third day for your practical assessment.

    Choose the Low Back Pain course and you will then complete assignments prior to attending a 2 day practical and theoretical course delivery followed by a period of 8 weeks to complete a case study prior to returning for a 1 day practical assessment.

    Choose Obesity and Diabetes and you will then attend a 2-day course comprising of theory and practical workshops. After the course you will have 6 weeks to prepare a hypothetical case study before returning for a 1-day practical assessment.

    Course attendance will be at your choice of Focus Training centres throughout the UK. Check course availability

  • How will I be assessed for the Specialist Practitioner course?

    • Dependent on the modules you select, the course structure will vary in accordance to requirements. However, you will be expected to complete the following:
    • Home study worksheets
    • Multiple choice theory exams (only applies if you haven’t completed the level 3 Personal Trainer qualification, 2011 onwards)
    • Case studies
    • Practical assessments
  • How do I submit my Specialist Practitioner coursework?

    You need to submit your home-study units either electronically or you could choose to complete it hand written if you prefer.

    If you have any special learning needs for this course please do not hesitate to discuss them with our advisers, we will do as much as is practicable to assist.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I become a Specialist Practitioner?

    Firstly you will need to hold a minimum of a recognised Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing in either Gym, Exercise to Music or Water Based Exercise. We can bolt this course on if you don’t already have it. Once Level 2 qualified you are ready to enrol, you will start with the Exercise Referral qualification, then move onto your choice of two specialist level 4 qualifications in Low Back Pain or Obesity and Diabetes.

  • Is the Specialist Practitioner course recognised?

    Yes, you will achieve certificates that are fully accredited by an Ofqual approved awarding organisation, Active IQ.

    This course is also recognised by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) and will gain you 20 REPs points and entry onto the register at Level 4

  • Is funding available for the Specialist Practitioner course?

    If you are over the age of 19 you may be eligible for an Advanced Learning Loan which you can apply for to fund your Specialist Practitioner course. Our advisors will tell you more and help you apply. Feel free to call us on 0800 999 6664.

  • What other payment options do you offer for the Specialist Practitioner course?

    Other payment options for the Specialist Practitioner course include:

    • Interest-free payments
    • Finance option if you want to reduce your monthly outgoings by paying over a longer period.
    • If you prefer to pay up front you’ll receive a pay in full discount.
  • What can I expect to achieve from the Specialist Practitioner course?

    • Focus Training Specialist Practitioner Certificate
    • Active IQ Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral
    • Active IQ Level 4 Certificate in Physical Activity and Weight Management for Obese and Diabetic Clients


    • Active IQ Level 4 Certificate in Physical Activity and Lifestyle Strategies for Managing Lower Back Pain
    • 20 REPs CPD points
  • What are the requirements for a Specialist Practitioner Diploma?

    Students must be aged 16 or over, and hold a minimum Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym, ETM, Aqua)

    As part of this qualification, you’ll also need to complete the Level 3 Nutritional Advisor unit and the Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology unit. However, students with a Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training will not be required to complete the two units mentioned.

    For more information or to book call our advisers on 0800 999 6664.

  • How long will it take me to complete the course?

    From start to finish it is possible to complete this qualification in a minimum of 4 months depending on time that you have available to study and your previous experience. Most learners take between 6-9 months.

Locations & Dates

LocationVenueModuleStart DateBook
BirminghamDavid LloydExercise Referral Specialist09/10 June 2018
BirminghamDavid LloydLow Back Pain Specialist25/26 August 2018
BirminghamDavid LloydObesity & Diabetes Specialist15/16 September 2018
BirminghamDavid LloydExercise Referral Specialist20/21 October 2018
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydObesity & Diabetes Specialist04/05 July 2018 (Midweek)
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydExercise Referral Specialist28/29 July 2018
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydLow Back Pain Specialist04/05 August 2018
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydObesity & Diabetes Specialist27/28 August 2018 (Midweek)
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydObesity & Diabetes Specialist06/07 October 2018
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydExercise Referral Specialist20/21 October 2018
Trafford Park ManchesterDavid LloydLow Back Pain Specialist03/04 November 2018
VauxhallSouth Bank ClubExercise Referral Specialist26/27 May 2018
VauxhallSouth Bank ClubObesity & Diabetes Specialist11/12 August 2018
VauxhallSouth Bank ClubLow Back Pain Specialist01/02 September 2018
VauxhallSouth Bank ClubExercise Referral Specialist13/14 October 2018
VauxhallSouth Bank ClubObesity & Diabetes Specialist15/16 December 2018


If you have any questions or require further guidance you can speak with one of our expert advisors by calling

0800 999 6664

(FREE to call from mobiles)

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