Fully Qualified

This past weekend I got my papers. My YMCA/CYQ Personal Trainer qualification! It’s been a long time in the happening and finally in the eyes of the EU I’m a qualified PT. Let me say that again, I’m a qualified Personal Fitness Trainer. Woo Hoo!

Last Thursday, I flew to Gatwick, to drive 3km down the road to attend Focus Training’s Level 2 Gym Instructor course held at Virgin Active Crawley. I did things a little backwards, got my Level 3 Personal Trainer before the Gym Instructor due to a mix up over what qualifications I’ve done previously. REPs in the UK and EREPs it’s European counterpart have strict regulations on what qualifications the fitness industry holds. You can’t just jump in to be PT, you have to start at the bottom and work up the qualifications. As I already hold Level 2 Exercise to Music and an American PT course I did in Spain, the mix was I didn’t need to do level 2 again. But I did, the practical gym side which is why I found myself in Crawley over the weekend.

And boy was it cold! Freezing! It felt like I’d been slammed into a walk-in freezer. 10C temperature drop is a lot, especially as the ‘cold’ was previously 16C! I hadn’t felt so much cold since January in France. The coat I found earlier in the week, came in to play and it was nothing a hot cup of coffee couldn’t fix while getting reacquainted the Motherland!

Sunset Thursday around 3.45pm. I couldn’t get used to how dark it got so quickly.IMG_9764

Starbucks has it’s red cups, Costa Coffee which is more popular in the UK than Starbucks has Rudolph, Santa and Snowmen. I don’t usually buy coffee out, but Costa’s always the exception! IMG_9844

The next two days we (students) were in and out the gym and classroom. Even though I was only there for the practical exam, I still had to attend the theory classes with those taking the written exam. Our tutor, Tracey was fantastic and put us at ease immediately. Just like she said with every course she holds she learns something new, so did I. Friday afternoon I knew I’d be fine on the Sunday which she confirmed Saturday (‘I know you can teach!”). Yes I can teach, but I liked the way she delivered the course, kept us motivated throughout and held a classes of 8 adults in check. Fitness isn’t just about working the muscles and firing up the cardio. It’s also the way it’s presented. I’ve kinda stole a few of her ways!

Not my peanut butter! With few vegan eating out options and staying in a hotel meant I had to get creative with meals. That is a post to itself!IMG_9790

It more or less rained for the 3 days I was there. The autumn leaves provided much needed pops of colour! IMG_9814

Level 2 Gym Instruction is just that, gym instruction, showing clients around the cardio and resistance machines, traditional bodybuilding free weights and a few bodyweight exercises so they can safely use them on their own. Level 3 is the fun gym side. Sunday I was first up. We were paired up, swapping the role of client/instructor after an hour. I missed out a few things welcoming them (I remembered the fire exits, but not the assembly point) and to give alternatives if this machine, weight is taken for next time, you can use X, Y, H. But I passed regardless of these oversights.

I stayed at Crown Plaza and for a hotel gym, it was stocked with more kettle bells, medicine balls, ugi balls, sandbags than my gym! Most nights I had the gym to myself while I worked out. I wasn’t impressed with their strict 20 minute cardio machine rule however. 18 minutes into my run (the hotel had a run bar with maps of local running routes, but it was dark, I didn’t know the area and the time I was running, very late so I opted for the treadmill.) it automatically started the cool down. I just switched the treadmill next door! As I couldn’t do my usual morning workouts, my mornings started with 30 minute yoga flows from Yogaglo. I’m on their 15 day free trial and enjoying it so far.IMG_9770

And how does a girl celebrate passing on her own? Shopping and the movies! I only travel back the UK once a year (some times every 2) and there are so many shops I want to look around, I normally spend at least one day in and out them working through the shopping list! There wasn’t enough time on the first two days to shop. I had enough time to find the High Street and Mall at lunch for a quick peek but not a take in all in shop. Sunday I was back the at hotel by 11.30am so had plenty of time to wander around the Mall and High Street. As a well done present I took myself to see The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1 which I enjoyed along with popcorn and a bag of grapes I snuck in! I find cinemas offer few alternatives for vegetarians/vegans/healthy eaters and usually take carrot sticks or grapes with me.

I passed!IMG_1463

I forget how pretty the English countryside is. Monday when I left, the sun was shining for the first time since I landed and despite it being -1C at 6.20am it was a gorgeous morning. Driving to the airport was a picture perfect winter’s morning. The mist was rising up off the fields with the sun gleaming through the bare trees. I wanted to stop and take it all in, go for a lovely winter’s walk, but I had a flight to catch and there were no lay-bys! Maybe next time!

Sunrise MondayIMG_9894

You can just make out the mist rising in the distance. IMG_9907

And now the fun begins! First aid courses, mountains of paperwork and an osteopath appointment. Got my hands slapped a bit this morning by her as I lifted too much over the weekend and I’m not ‘designed’ to lift heavy. But what could I do? Sometimes you’ve gotta do, what you’ve gotta do!

Hope you had a great weekend! I think that’s all the gossip caught up with, for now!




  1. WooHoo….Natalie this is so WONDERFUL. I am extremely happy for you. I know this has been your goal since moving to Europe.
    Hope everything goes extremely well for you.
    BTW, that is one impressive hotel gym! 🙂

    1. says:

      Thank you!

      It is isn’t it! The downside was that it was probably the smallest best equipped gym. Space to workout in was tight when it got busy with 4 people!

  2. says:

    Yay! Congratulations on passing.

    1. says:

      Thank you!

  3. says:

    Congratulations! So happy for you. Thanks for giving us some background in your course certification. It seems very in depth in Europe.
    Love your picture. Glowing with happiness.

    1. says:

      Thank you!

      The UK and Europe like standards to be met!

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