PDA Personal Training SCQF level 7

Professional Development Awards (PDAs) extend or broaden professional or vocational skills and are linked to National Occupational Standards.

The PDA in Personal Training at SCQF level 7 covers the following specialist areas: core strength and posture, delivering personal training sessions, metabolic considerations for personal trainers, planning and management of personal training, and working effectively and safely with clients.

This qualification is available through colleges, training providers and some employers. It has been designed to be delivered as a taught course and will normally be available as a combination of performance activities and case studies.

CIMSPA Recognition

The PDA Personal Training provides the opportunity to gain membership with Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). CIMSPA is the professional development body for the UK’s sport and physical activity sector, offering Scottish Colleges support with student and practitioner membership alongside partnership opportunities. CIMSPA has identified the standards for professional excellence and best practice in the sport and physical activity sector, members and partners are recognised for upholding and delivering these standards.

The SQA, sportscotland and CIMSPA have been working closely over the past few years to help support the development of the sport and physical activity sector through embedding CIMSPA Professional Standards into SQA qualification frameworks. CIMSPA are delighted to be supporting the SQA with this work and wider delivery across Scottish institutions which has supported the development of a CIMSPA partnership and membership offer specifically for Scottish Colleges.

Learners can now complete HNC Fitness Health and Exercise with the PDA Personal Training to register with CIMSPA for Gym Instructor Practitioner and Personal Trainer Practitioner. Please read the terms below:

(GH07 15) HNC Fitness Health and Exercise – Gym Instructor Practitioner CIMSPA standards

Please note the ASP has been updated in September 2022. For centres who wish to register candidates with CIMSPA for Gym Instructor Practitioner, candidates must sit the HNC whilst also generating additional evidence by completing the associated appendix questions and assessors must ensure the additional observation checklist is completed during the formative or summative assessment. This must include candidates being observed during an individual induction AND a small group induction (minimum of 2 participants). Appendix worksheets with example answers are located in the SQA Plan, Teach and Evaluate Gym Based Exercise sessions H4TK 34 Assessment Support Pack.

Candidates must sit the HNC with the following units from the optional section:

  • Plan, Teach and Evaluate Gym Based Exercise Sessions (H4TK34)

(GH02 47) PDA Personal Training - Personal Trainer Practitioner CIMSPA standards

For centres who wish to register candidates with CIMSPA for Personal Trainer Practitioner membership, candidates must sit the HNC with the H4TK 34/ASP001 Assessment Support Pack with the PDA Personal Training. Additionally, there is an appendix that must be completed in Assessment Support Pack for Deliver Personal Training Sessions H1S4 34/AEX001.

The following optional guidance can be used to support delivery and assessment as an alternative to the approaches outlined in the Group Award / Unit specification.

Optional assessment guidance 2023-24

The PDA in Personal Training at SCQF level 7 has been developed in partnership with employers and industry.

It will help employers meet skills gaps and provide continuing professional development for staff, while learners will gain knowledge and skills needed for progression in the workplace.

It can also be offered to people who are in training and who wish to gain employment in the fitness sector.

The development of this Award was initiated by demand from the sector, and the increasing need of people to achieve recognition by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs).  REPs is managed by the sector skills council Skillsactive and is the independent public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of exercise and fitness professionals in the UK. REPs has recognition across the world.

The Unit-based structure aids timetable flexibility. Units are typically 40 hours of learning and they can be delivered on a full-time or part-time basis.

This PDA provides progression routes to further study (see Progression).

The Professional Development Award in Personal Training will be suitable for those who:


  • are working in, or seeking employment in, the fitness industry

who require a specific skill set

  • wish to develop their current skills and knowledge in the area of personal fitness


Entry is at the discretion of the centre.

Learners do not need to have formal relevant qualifications to enter this PDA. Good communication skills, both oral and written, are required. Current experience as a personal trainer or exercise professional would be advantageous.

The Units in the PDA have been mapped against the National Occupational Standards for Fitness.

Learners would have the opportunity of progressing to other PDAs, which could perhaps lead to a full HN qualification in Fitness, Health and Exercise at level 7 or 8.

Please see the Sports and Leisure MySector for all available qualifications in this area.

Centres with devolved authority for approval should use their own internal approval process.

Centres without devolved authority will have to come forward for approval and should contact SQA's Business Development Team for guidance.

Assessors and verifiers must be able to meet SQA's general requirements for technical/occupational competence as outlined in the Guide to Approval.

Each individual Unit specification gives detailed information on the Evidence Requirements and approaches to assessment for each Unit.

Ongoing course assessment will apply. Assessment will allow candidates to enhance their own practice.

Group Award code: GH02 47 (32 SCQF credit points)


The PDA in Personal Training at SCQF level 7 consists of five mandatory Units.

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