Frequently asked questions


HFPA has been around since 1979 and it is with great confidence that we are known as the “Leaders in Education for the Fitness Industry”. At HFPA we are committed to providing top class education in fully equipped and professional learning environments. We have a reputation in the industry of producing graduates with superior knowledge and competence. We hold one of the highest accreditations and adhere to the highest international certification standards.

Our comprehensive training programmes include:

  • Lectures, workshops and extensive “hands on” practical training
  • Experiential training (internship)
  • The inclusion of Sports Conditioning in the Higher Certificate in Exercise Science course provides the graduate with additional skills that open up more opportunities, employment or self-employment in the workplace.
  • HFPA study manuals and textbooks are updated regularly and students on course are provided with the latest scientific information.
  • Lecturers are highly qualified
  • The Rivonia campus (Head Office) is equipped with state of the art gym equipment, along with high performance and functional equipment, and lecture facilities, with plans underway to upgrade campuses nationwide.
  • HFPA has excellent professional relationships with both Virgin Active and Planet Fitness, with both these organizations offering our courses as learnerships and continuing education for their staff.
  • Excellent customer service and learning support are of utmost importance to all HFPA staff and we strive to make the learning experience of the student an enjoyable one, with the best knowledge and skills to prepare them for the often competitive, fitness industry.

Course material is written in the English language. Lectures are only offered in English. Lecturers will endeavour to assist students when English is not the first language. Oral supplementary examinations may be offered in certain circumstances.

Students are asked to please apply for a study loans at a financial/ lending institution of choice: FNB, ABSA, STANDARD BANK, NEDBANK, EDU-LOAN, ETC. HFPA will consider offering payment terms in “special” circumstances only, where the student has not been able to obtain a study loan. See payment terms for full time, part time and distance learning study.

All main qualifications

Whichever mode of study you select; the course remains relatively the same (except with one or two exceptions). Students will still receive the same qualification. There are two parts to the Certificate, Part 1 (Higher Certificate in Exercise Science/ Personal Trainer) and Part 2 (Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science/ Exercise Specialist). After Part 1 the student receives a Higher Certificate in Exercise Science (NQF Level 5) and may start working in the field. However, it is only after Part 2 that the student obtains an Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science (NQF Level 6). This is a higher level qualification which is more recognised. The student obtains extensive knowledge and is considered an ‘exercise specialist’ in the field, thus providing the student with more employment opportunities.

The difference, in a nutshell, between these three modes of study is basically the attendance of class, and how often.

  • Full time
  • Part-time
  • Distance/online learning
  • The course was originally designed for full time study, and is the preferred method. Full time students attend class for a year.
  • Students attend class at their chosen campus Monday to Thursday from 09h30 -12h30 (with scheduled mid-term breaks and holidays), interacting daily with the lecturer and their peers in the lecture room and gym environment (depending on what has been scheduled for that session).
  • Lectures are structured over 1 year per part i.e. 1 year for part 1, another year for part 2 (the latter which can be done on a semi full time, or even part time basis, while student is working). This is a guided, interactive and “hands on” way of study, which assists the student in remaining disciplined in completing the qualification.
  • Students are required to do homework and study at home.
  • If a student misses a class they can get in contact with their lecturer in order to find out what they have missed and if they can attend one of the part-time classes. The lecturer will advise what their schedule is and whether it will be helpful to attend.
  • Contact time with the lecturer is less with part time study, where the student is able to attend lecturers alternate Saturdays from 09h00 to 14h00 (see timetable for dates). Or alternatively, every Monday and Wednesday evening from 18h00-21h00.
  • Lectures are structured over 6 months per part, still with a year to complete the requirements in your own time i.e. 6 months for part 1 with a year to complete and 6 months for part 2 with a year to complete.
  • More correspondence work (work to be done at home) and discipline is required by the student in order to complete the requirements.
  • If a student misses a class they can get in contact with their lecturer in order to find out what they have missed and if they can attend one of the other part-time classes. The lecturer will advise what their schedule is and whether it will be helpful to attend.
  • When studying via distance learning, work is done via correspondence and student works through the content themselves and liaises with a distance tutor via email about when assignments are due, should they need help etc.
  • Students complete all course requirements online including online- assignments, -theory exams, and –practical exams. If they would like to purchase add-on services they can do so. Add-on options include: practical workshops at a HFPA main campus or in their region as well as hard copy manuals and HFPA branded clothing.
  • The practical workshops involve 15 hours of practical tuition with a HFPA Master Trainer. Practical workshops are available at select campuses.
  • The course can take 6 months- 8 months, with a year to complete requirements.

One will have to consider a few factors, namely:

  • When considering study modes, students will need to assess whether they are disciplined enough to do the work themselves and ensure all their requirements are met or if they need a more guided and systematic structure, such as the full time programme.
  • Does the student have the time to attend lectures or not?
  • Are they able to travel to their nearest campus?
  • Are they working full time?
  • Ultimately, the decision lies with the student and what works best for them.

Higher Certificate in Exercise Science (Part 1/ Personal Trainer)

  • Theory examination passed
  • Nutrition examination passed
  • Practical examination passed
  • Portfolio passed
  • Nutrition case study
  • Business plan
  • 50 experiential hours completed
  • CPR certification

Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science (Part 2/ Exercise Specialist)

  • Theory examination passed
  • Practical examination passed
  • Portfolio passed
  • Research project
  • 2 Case studies
  • 100 experiential hours completed
  • CPR certification

Generally, we request that a student stick to one group, but should they not be able to attend a class in their group, a member of HFPA staff will assist in enquiring with the lecturer of the other group as to what will be covered in this session / when next they will be covering a certain topic, as they do run on different schedules.

The lecturer is the first point of contact; one can chat to them after class, or then email / call to make an appointment. An HFPA member of staff (student advisors are the first point of contact) will be able to assist further.

Students will be given the opportunity to rewrite and will be required to re-register and pay an additional exam fee of R250.00.

Requirements to register for the Higher & Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science:

The entry level for this qualification is an NQF Level 4 (Matriculation certificate or equivalent).

The following must accompany student registration:
Registration documents will be returned if not completed correctly.

  • Certified copy of student’s matric certificate / equivalent
  • Certified copy of student’s ID / passport
  • 2 x ID photos
  • Proof of payment
  • Completed registration form

Entry into the Higher Certificate in Exercise Science for international students

Even though you may have completed an international qualification that may be on par with our NSC, you will still need to go to SAQA and get their equivalence certificate from them. This process can take several weeks, so please complete this process as soon as possible. You may visit this website below for more information. This process is the sole responsibility of the applicant, and not the college.

Entry into the Higher Certificate in Exercise Science for mature students

If you do not have matric exemption, but are 23 years or older, you can apply for exemption to study a diploma at HFPA with HESA. To apply for age exemption, contact Carina from NoMe on

Further information regarding any of the RPL processes above may be found on the HFPA website

Student will be required to register for the Fitness Instructor course (bridging course).

The Fitness Instructors course is an NQF level 4 course. It imbeds the underlying principles of exercise science so that the student may grasp the more difficult concepts within the Higher Certificate in Exercise Science. This can be done in conjunction with the Higher Certificate in Exercise Science, if student wishes.

If you do not have a matric certificate

Here are the steps required for this evaluation for an opportunity to gain access into our higher education qualification:
Entry into the Higher Certificate in Exercise Science from another qualification
You may enter the HFPA Higher Certificate in Exercise Science if you have successfully completed a similar/relevant qualification.

  1. Speak to the HFPA Student Advisor about what qualifications are available, and what is required for access. ( 011 807 9673)
  2. If you have chosen a qualification that you would like to study, but where you have not met the requirements for access, then you may initiate the RPL for Access process.
  3. Go to and download or complete the RPL for Access Application form seen on the front page around the bottom left corner.
  4. Send the complete application form to
  5. Once NoMe Consulting has received your application form, they will send additional documentation that you will be required to complete, including payment (R900) that will be needed before the assessment is booked and completed.
  6. Once you have finalised all the requirements as laid out by NoMe Consulting, they will set up a time for you to be assessed at the nearest HFPA main campus. The HFPA has five main campuses in Pretoria, two in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town.
  7. The assessment itself will take between 45min – 60mins. Here, your academic readiness will be assessed. You cannot study or prepare for this assessment.
  8. Once the assessment has been completed, NoMe Consulting will complete a detailed report that will include your assessment results, as well as your supporting documentation and any formal qualification that you may have completed. This report is then sent to the HFPA’s head office and you will be notified if you have been successful in your application as soon as a decision has been received.
  9. If you have not been successful here, please know that this means that you are not ready for the level of complexity required for the specific higher education qualification that is offered here. The Student Advisors at HFPA will provide you with alternative routes for access that may include a Bridging course. (Read more about the HFPA Floor Instructor Course)

In this circumstance, the student will be required to go through an RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) process. The entry level for this qualification is NQF Level 4. Prospective students without an NQF Level 4 qualification may apply for RPL.

Option 1

RPL for this programme incorporates evidence of previous work experience within the field of exercise science. A minimum of 3 years in the field is required with proof of time spent compiled into a portfolio of evidence consisting of a CV, previous relevant work experience and other relevant qualifications. The Independent Quality Assurance Consultant and the Principal of the college will assess this portfolio and may contact references listed in the portfolio. A personal interview concludes this process and the cover sheet is kept on file.

Interested in continuing your studies at hfpa?

You can RPL into the Higher/ Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science

RPL from other relevant and equal qualifications will be considered if you would like to gain entrance into either the Higher/Advanced Programme. To enquire if you qualify please request an interview or send an email with your enquiry to

Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science (Part 2/ Exercise Specialist)

No RPL criteria apply for the Advanced Certificate in Exercise Science, as a basic level qualification NQF 5 within the field of exercise science is necessary. (Current accredited qualifications that have been accepted are: ETA, IFP, Sports Management 3 year degree and Exercise Science 3 year degree). If no previous qualification in the field has been attained the student must begin with the first year as this is the basis of the Certificate. If the student has a qualification “partly related” to the field of Exercise Science such as Physiotherapy or Human Movement Sciences, he/she may be granted partial recognition of prior learning such as credits for similar modules already obtained through previous study. RPL Cost: R2500

The Health and Fitness industry is one of the fastest growing industries internationally. Employment opportunities for the qualified fitness professional are abundant. Graduates are employed in health and fitness facilities, gyms and sport specific environments, in private practice, schools, sports clubs and rehabilitation centres. Also in hotel spas and on luxury cruise liners. By keeping up to date with the latest information and trends, taking advantage of continuing education and specialisation, the graduate is assured of further exciting career opportunities.

  • Gyms (Virgin Active, Planet Fitness, smaller private and corporate gyms etc.)
  • Fitness facilities such as Adventure Bootcamp, CrossFit, Sweat 1000 etc.
  • Schools
  • Sporting clubs and Coaching
  • Self-employed mobile trainer / own studio
  • Cruise ships
  • Corporate Wellness etc.

This does vary extensively, and depends if you are working independently or at a gym, if you are employed as an in house trainer or if you are all together self-employed and have your own studio / free-lance. One can discuss a possible range of rates that a trainer can charge their client, individual and group. Students are advised to query with a gym of their choice.

Our Higher Certificate is on an NQF Level 5 and our Advanced Certificate is on an NQF Level 6. Students will need to approach the relevant University themselves and find out whether our courses can give some credits within the relevant Faculty depending on what the particular institution has decided. Students have received credits from our courses into Universities in the past but we cannot guarantee that all Universities will agree to give credits for our courses.

Short courses

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It refers to the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply. As an Exercise professional and member of the Register, keeping your skills and knowledge up to date is vitally important. Personal or professional development is seen as being complementary to how you develop your career and is seen as an important principle of professionalising the health and fitness industry. To deliver the services that clients expect and demand, personal development should be taken seriously.

In order to upgrade your membership status from Provisional to Full Membership for the first year, and thereafter to keep your status, you will need to meet certain requirements on an annual basis to keep your CPD count a minimum of 12 points. A CPD count of less than 12 points will negatively affect your Full Membership status.

Each of our short courses provide a certain number of CPD points. In order to maintain your REPSSA registration you can use our short courses to keep your knowledge and skills up to date.

  • Our programmes are registered with REPSSA (The South African Register of Exercise Professionals), which will allow our graduates the opportunity to transfer their REPSSA registration number to any existing REPS body. International REPS known as ICEREPS houses a full list of all accredited countries REPS: A few existing REPS are: REPS UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, USA & Canada REPS and thus, students/graduates can gain employment in these countries without them having to undergo any further assessments or examinations.

Since our short courses provide CPD points, these can be used to carry over to REPS accredited countries internationally.

Courses that have no pre-requisite:

  • Life Coaching
  • Yoga Alliance
  • Introduction to Exercise Science
  • Applied to Sports Psychology
  • Essentials of Nutrition (This is a pre-requisite to the Sports Nutrition Course)
  • Weight Management
  • Yoga Fitness Instructor
  • CPR
  • Strapping
  • Kettlebell Fundamentals

Courses that require Personal Training:

  • Kid’s Development course
  • Understanding Human Movement
  • Human Movement Analysis
  • Foundation of Periodization Training
  • Understanding Common Movement Dysfunctions
  • Integrative Training
  • Posture Specialist
  • Sports Conditioning with SAQ
  • Kids Development
  • Injury Prevention Specialist
  • Functional Training Specialist
  • Pre-Post Natal Instructor
  • Fighting Fitt

Courses that require an Introduction to Exercise Science:

  • Aqua Aerobics Instructor
  • Group Fitness
  • Sports Massage
  • Pilates ABC & Intermediate (Mat)
  • Studio Cycle Instructor

Courses that require Group Fitness Instructor:

  • Latinix Instructor


HFPA is registered by the Department of Education for the courses as shown on certificate no. 2001/HE07/002

The mission of the Department of Higher Education and Training is to develop capable, well-educated and skilled citizens who are able to compete in a sustainable, diversified and knowledge-intensive international economy, which meets the development goals of the country.

The political head of the department is the Minister of Education who is responsible for overseeing the department.

In accordance with the Higher Education Act (1997), Private Higher Education Institutions are required to register with the Department of Education to ensure that education provided by these institutions meets acceptable levels of quality.

Learn more about the DOE

HFPA is accredited on a higher education level by the Council on Higher Education (CHE)

Higher education is a world-wide concept that refers to further learning after secondary education (high school). It is an optional and final stage of formal learning that focuses highly on professional development and is usually delivered at universities, colleges and institutions of technology.

In South Africa the CHE is responsible for the accreditation of public and private higher education institutions and learning programmes, as well as all aspects of higher education policy and policy-making. Within this role its main responsibility is quality assurance and promotion of higher education in the country.

One of the main reasons for programme accreditation is to protect students against poor quality programmes. Therefore, by studying at a higher education institution with programmes accredited at a higher education level, you can be assured that you are receiving the highest possible level of education to put you on the path towards a successful career.

Learn more about CHE

HFPA Programmes are listed on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

NQF is the set of standards by which records of learner achievement are registered to enable national recognition and international comparability of acquired skills and knowledge, as well as to ensure an integrated, national education system that facilitates access to and encourages life-long learning.

Under this framework a qualification is registered at a specified level with a number of credits allocated to it. These credits are determined according to expected outcomes and criteria that stipulate the level of knowledge required for a student to successfully achieve the qualification.

NQF levels are band as follows:
HFPA is proud to offer our Exercise Specialist qualification at an NQF level 6 – the only advanced personal training certification in South Africa to be accredited as a Higher Education qualification at this level.

  • General Education (level 1: compulsory schooling up to grade 9 and ABET)
  • Further Education and Training (level 2- 4: grade 10-12)
  • Higher Education (level 5-10)

Our Personal Trainer qualification is also accredited as a Higher Education qualification at an NQF level 5.

At HFPA we continuously strive to ensure that our courses adhere to the highest international certification standards and that we are providing top-class education and producing graduates with superior knowledge and competence.

The NQF is a means for transforming education and training in South Africa and has been built on principles of quality and excellence; therefore, by selecting an NQF accredited qualification, you are assured the highest level of education with recognised accreditation benchmarked against international standards.

Learn more about NQF

HFPA is registered as a higher education (tertiary) institution by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

SAQA is a statutory body regulated in terms of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act No. 67 of 2008.

Its primary purpose is to oversee further development and implementation of the NQF to continuously enhance the quality of education in South Africa and ensure that qualifications are accessible to all levels of society.

Under this role, SAQA’s main areas of responsibility include:
On top of this SAQA is responsible for the evaluation of foreign qualifications and ensuring that international benchmarking takes place, thus ensuring global competitiveness and the recognition of South African qualifications abroad.

  • The registration of qualifications and professional designations on the NQF
  • The recognition of professional bodies
  • The management of information of the education and training system in respect of qualifications and learner achievements
  • The development of a national career development and advice service

Learn more about SAQA

HFPA is an accredited CATHSSETA provider

SETA is an acronym for Sector Education and Training Authority. The main function of a SETA is to contribute to the raising of skills – to bring skills to the employed, or those wanting to be employed, in a specific sector.

CATHSETHA, the Culture Art Tourism Hospitality and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority, was established under the skills development act for the tourism, hospitality and sport economic sector.

Its main responsibilities are to:
Studying at a SETA accredited provider ensures that you will learn skills that are needed and recognised by employers and that your training is subject to quality control and can be compared to the best international standards.

  • Develop a sector skills plan
  • Implement the sector skills plan
  • Develop and administer learnerships
  • Support the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework
  • Undertake quality assurance
  • Disburse levies collected from employers in their sector
  • Report to the Minister and to the South African Qualifications Authority.

Learn more about CATHSSETA

HFPA programmes are registered with the International Register of Exercise Professionals

The Register of Exercise professionals is an international, independent, public register that recognises qualifications and expertise and provides a system of regulation that ensures fitness professionals meet international industry standards.

Membership of REPS provides assurance and confidence to consumers, employers and fitness professionals that all registered exercise professionals are appropriately qualified and have the knowledge, competence and skills to perform specific roles.

REPS members are bound by a code of ethical practice and are required to meet the standards that are set for their profession through Continual Professional Development (CPD).

Under REPSSA, HFPA courses are internationally recognised, allowing you to gain employment in Europe, the UK, the USA, the U.A.E, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa without having to undergo further assessments or examinations.

Learn more about REPS

HFPA is accredited by CANFITPRO (Canadian Fitness Professionals)

canfitpro is the largest provider of education in the Canadian fitness industry. Founded in 1993, canfitpro delivers accessible, quality education, certifications, conferences, trade shows, and membership services. canfitpro’s over 100,000 members include some of the world’s finest fitness professionals, health club operators, industry suppliers, and fitness consumers.

canfitpro will now be offering accreditation for Health and Fitness Professionals Academy (HFPA) Personal Training/ Conditioning Coach certification as an equivalency to the canfitpro Personal Training Specialist (PTS) certification.

Those who hold this certification will be able to submit a copy along with the correct forms and a copy of their CPR issued within the last year to qualify themselves for accreditation. For more information on this process and to download the forms members can visit

Learn more about canfitpro

©Copyright HFPA | All rights reserved.