How FFS Academy helped me realise my coaching potential

Supposedly, life is short, but it’s amazing how much life you can fit into one year.For those unaware, I started an internship with FFS Gyms at the beginning of May 2019, just over a year ago. I

Supposedly, life is short, but it’s amazing how much life you can fit into one year.

For those unaware, I started an internship with FFS Gyms at the beginning of May 2019, just over a year ago. I walked into that internship thinking I knew more than I did (I didn’t), that my 4 year degree in ‘Health and Physical Activity’ had more than adequately prepared me for the job (it hadn’t), and that, surely, this would be easier than my strength and conditioning job during my stint in New Zealand (it wasn’t).

All of those experiences gave a solid theoretical base of knowledge and an inflated self-confidence to boot. You quickly realise, however, all of that is about as much use as studying the art of swimming, the nuances and differences between swimming techniques, optimal stroke rates, breathing patterns, watching hours and hours of videos of people swimming... and then jumping in the deep end before you’ve even practiced your doggy paddle. And I’m a famously poor swimmer.

Enter FFS Academy

I ought to tell you now, that before doing the FFS Academy, I had already been accredited as a personal trainer by another accreditor as part of my college degree. But that was a long time ago. I was a qualified PT, sure, but having not put it into practice since college, that blade had lost its edge. Maybe this was evident during my internship, and towards the end of it, Rory (FFS Director) and Neil (Previous Academy Administrator) sat me down and asked if I’d like to enter myself into the FFS Academy. It was too good an opportunity to pass up; An opportunity to brush up on my knowledge base from college; To reinforce what I had learned, and re-learn some concepts long forgotten; To stop second guessing my ability and build back up that self-belief that ‘yes, I could be a personal trainer’! I was signed up and starting my first lesson by the end of the day.

Learning in a way that suits you

Some people are creatures of extreme focus and dedication, able to commit themselves to a task with a single-minded focus rivalling that of The Terminator, working tirelessly on the job at hand for hours on end. I, on the other hand, work in fits and starts; my mind often jumping from one thread of thought to the next, seemingly at random. Luckily, the FFS Academy app caters to both types. The modules are broken up into a series of videos covering all things from anatomy and physiology, to sets and rep schemes, and everything in between. Often these videos are as short as 60 seconds, only occasionally stretching to more than a few minutes. So if you’re the type to chain yourself to a desk and study for 2 hours straight, or the kind that can only handle a few minutes before needing to distract yourself with another task, this app works for you! I’d often find myself watching a lecture while waiting for a coffee to brew, on the bus into work, or getting a quick two-minute video in before a class started. Knowing that I didn’t have to commit to a 2-hour long video lecture each day really took the pressure off, allowing me to comfortably work at my own pace.

Realising the value of workshops

While the content within the app was excellent, I found the real value was in the workshops. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledge you gain from each module in the app is the fundamentals, the need-to-knows; you couldn’t be a PT without them. But the quality of the information in the workshops was another level. This was where I learned the nice-to-knows; information and knowledge being gifted upon you by the people actually working in the industry, every day, that will set you apart from the rest. Most of all, and I can’t credit the instructors enough, it was their ability to help you take all of this information, from the workshops and the online modules, and apply it in a practical way, in a real-life environment. American philosopher John Dewey is well known for his theory of education, “learning by doing”, and each of the workshops is an opportunity to do exactly that; assessing movement and mobility screens with Craig, learning and giving coaching cues on the big 5 lifts with Aoife, and Improving mobility and getting to grips with safe spotting for clients with Daragh.

Onwards and upwards

Once all the dust had settled, the modules completed, the workshops attended, there was only the practical left to go. It was beyond gratifying to sit down to write the programme for this and realise that I, for the first time, I truly knew what I was doing. The confidence you gain from that moment is worth the price of admission alone. As I write this now, I’ve been working as a PT with some of my clients since that same week that I completed the course. I design the “Bodyweight Blitz” classes that we run at FFS. I’ve even gone on to become one of the instructors on the very course I completed just 6 months ago! If you had told me a year ago that I’d be doing all that in the span of the next 12 months, I’d have politely declined to believe you! But every day since completing the FFS Academy course, I grow a little more. That’s the kind of impact it has made on my life. I can’t wait to hear the impact it makes on yours.

Find out more

The FFS Academy course content is composed of online modules, in-house workshops, and practical assessments. After successfully completing the course, you will receive qualification for EQF Level 3 Fitness Instructor and EQF Level 4 Personal Trainer. The Academy is also accredited by Europe Active and all graduates will be qualified to join the European Register of Exercise Professionals (EREPS), which gives you the freedom to work in Ireland & several other countries in Europe as a personal trainer.

For more information please download our FFS Academy brochure or email

FFS Academy Webpage FFS Academy FAQ

FFS Academy Brochure - Email or for your brochure

Other countries in Europe you can work with this qualification

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