Blog: WorldSkills UK Fitness Trainer Competition 2017 update and meet the judges – by Karen Stanton

Well, the Live Heats are all finished for another year and scores and marking has all been submitted to the WorldSkills UK Quality Assurance team. We are once again unbelievably two thirds of the way through another Fitness Trainer Competition cycle. The third and final stage being the very exciting action-packed event at the Skills Show in Birmingham during mid November.

With a clear and dedicated focus on Personal Trainers for the first time ever, the competition has seen a fantastic array of approaches by entrants from all corners of the UK, which provided the judges with thoroughly enjoyable and engaging sessions to observe. We now await confirmation of the final eight competitors who have made it through to the final stage. The judges rarely get to interact outside of their professional judging commitments and I’m sure competitors must occasionally wonder about these people writing the scores. So, I’d like to introduce those from the Loughborough Heats – here’s a few of their thoughts I managed to gather…

Firstly Kate Ingles & Sam Kenny. Kate is an exercise professional and educator from the Warwickshire area and we welcome her onto the team for the first time this year. However, she isn’t really ‘new’ and has a long history with the competition as she is a previous winner of the Gym Instructor category! Sam is a highly respected teacher at Cornwall College with extensive experience of fitness and sport qualifications.

I asked them their favourite part of being a judge…

Kate: “I have particularly enjoyed observing the competitors and seeing the range of skills they have to offer. It is very exciting to think that these people are the future of our industry and that we are a part of their journey.”

Sam: “Judging provides me with the opportunity to develop my knowledge and expertise, as well as having the opportunity to associate with professionals who are forward thinking, pioneers of the fitness industry. Having a small but significant impact on this ever growing industry is extremely rewarding.”

Paul Swainson is Head of the School of PT for Future Fit Training and is into his second year of judging as well as sitting on the Technical Expert Group, which is responsible for ensuring the competition criteria remains current and develops in line with industry trends. His vast experience of delivering PT and educating others is a great asset to the competition and he is very supportive of the positive steps the project has taken to raise and sustain professional standards across the industry. Paul has frequently formed a judge pairing with Clare Everest, who joined the competition team on just about Day 1! Like Paul, Clare has combined a career delivering a range of fitness activities to the public with educating others; nowadays through her own highly successful training company Everest Fitness Education.

Paul commented: “To succeed in this competition is a real badge of honour: the more this is recognised by employers and other stakeholders the more it will contribute to the common goal of raising standards.”

Clare is equally committed to standards, adding: “I have enjoyed watching the skills of Personal Trainers evolve over the years. What is being showcased each year really does change and reflects what is happening in the industry, which is great to see from newly qualified PTs. What I particularly like to see is the confidence that each competitor has and how their skills and knowledge increase though each stage. It is a huge challenge to compete at the UK Skills Show at the NEC and the competitors really do grow in every way throughout the process.”

Some final thoughts come from Cerys Hopkins and Eileen Baron. Cerys combines part-time teaching of fitness qualifications at Coleg Gwent with operating a commercial gym business, and Eileen is a widely experienced technical expert in Active Leisure qualifications and again a professional educator through her own business Eclipse Training. Cerys enthused about the experience after her first day of judging and was overwhelmed by the warm welcome from within the judge team.

Eileen’s observations of being a judge follow and she also has bit of advice for the competitors who get through: “It is so lovely to see aspiring students starting on their career pathway; their enthusiasm and commitment is fantastic. It raises the profile and standards of the fitness industry. The atmosphere at the competition is just amazing but it’s important to remember not to get carried away. Read the criteria properly and ensure you understand what the criteria is asking of you.”

Away from the excitement of the competition I’m back at my day job for now; working with clients in my Lifestyle Consultancy business ‘MyActiveLife’ and supporting employers with their Fitness Apprentices. In the next few weeks we will all know the outcomes of the Heats and Christopher and I will be back at work, drawing together the final plans for the tasks for the Skills Show that provide the extra challenge and opportunity for the exceptional to shine… It’s getting exciting!

Good luck to all competitors and please look out for some feedback on the Heats performances in your inbox very soon.

The competition continues to go from strength to strength and we are always keen to hear from experienced fitness professionals who would be interested in joining our judging team. Fancy it? If so drop us a line at If you have excellent standards and hold an Assessing Qualification we’d love to hear from you.

Karen Stanton
Head Judge, WorldSkills UK Fitness Trainer Competition