Learn how to help people reach their health and fitness goals and become a personal trainer with the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4).

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This programme, which is a collaboration between the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand and Skills Active Aotearoa, provides you with the skills and knowledge to deliver exercise instruction and personal training to individuals, groups and communities. When you achieve this qualification, you will be eligible to register with the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs).

Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) is working with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand Ltd (OPNZ) to offer new training programmes to West Coast students. TPP can now help you enrol for online learning through OPNZ. As well as the fantastic support you’ll receive from OPNZ, you’ll also have access to all West Coast campus facilities. Partnerships like this are making it easier for West Coasters to access great tertiary training options right here at home.

  • Level:
  • Credit Value:
  • Awards:
    New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4)
  • Location:
    Online distance Learning
  • Method of Study:
    Online distance learning and Practicum component
  • Total Duration:
    16 study weeks for each course.
  • $2,934

Core Elements

When you complete this qualification you will be able to:

  • Apply knowledge of anatomy and physiology to design safe and effective personal training exercise programmes for healthy and at-risk individuals
  • Deliver safe and effective exercise programmes, in-line with your own scope of practice and the industry code of ethics
  • Conduct pre-screening and testing with clients
  • Adapt exercise programmes to ensure continued progress for clients
  • Apply motivational and communication techniques to enhance individual participant commitment to a personalised exercise programme
  • Apply a health and wellness framework and evidence-based nutrition principles to support a personalised exercise programme and recommend referral pathways to allied health professionals
  • Use marketing and business tools and techniques to support business practices as an exercise professional.

Programme Structure and Workload

The programme is structured across three courses, involving both theory and practical assessment.

  • Course 1 – Involves all theory and is delivered online with supported learning locally.
  • Course 2 - Is a combination of theory and practical assessments to be conducted within a gym environment. It is at this stage where students will be pre-screening and assessing clients in order to write their client an exercise programme and demonstrate exercises.
  • Course 3 - Is also a combination of theory and practical assessments which involves monitoring/adapting and reassessing clients.

Practicum Component

As part of this qualification, you will be required to undertake two practical assessments in a gym/exercise facility. The practical assessments are completed in Course 2 (Delivering Exercise Programmes) and Course 3 (Becoming an Exercise Professional). Course 2 requires 120 hours of practical work over a minimum of 6 weeks and course 3 has a practicum component of 100 hours over approximately 6 weeks.

Open Polytechnic will work with you to establish suitable arrangements for you to engage in your practicum placement. If you already have access to a suitable gym facility, then you may wish to establish arrangements with this gym yourself. If you don’t have access to gym facilities, then Open Polytechnic will work with our industry stakeholders and partners to establish suitable arrangements for you.

Further Study Paths

Students can progress to the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (level 5) – not offered at TPP or OPNZ

Career Opportunities

The New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) will prepare you to work in roles such as:

  • community exercise instructor
  • gym instructor
  • personal trainer (employed or self-employed)
  • exercise consultant

Entry Criteria

Applicants must have:

  • NCEA Level 2 or equivalent
  • Applicants who have attained the age of 20 years and do not hold the minimum entry requirements will be eligible to be enrolled where their previous educational, work or life experience indicates they have a reasonable likelihood of success.
  • This programme is delivered online so you will need to have regular access to a computer, a reliable internet connection and a data plan to be able to support your online learning. You will need to stream videos, download content and submit assessments online.
  • Applicants for whom English is a second language must meet IELTS (or equivalent) Level 5 or above.

Special notes:

Entry to the programme is dependent on suitable mentor and assessor availability for practical component

Sharing of student information

TPP is working with OPNZ to deliver more training options to people on the West Coast. As part of the partnership arrangement, OPNZ need to share student enrolment status information with TPP.


The New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) is delivered through OPNZ. Students will enrol with the Open Polytechnic and the programme is delivered through online learning.To enrol in the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) click here.

Subject to approval for 2020. Terms and conditions apply.