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New Zealand Certificate in Exercise

New Zealand Certificate in Exercise


Gain the skills for a career in physical wellness, exercise and sport science with UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Exercise.

A photograph of UCOL student training another student in UCOL gym
Quick info

Level: 4

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 19 weeks, full-time

21 Feb 2022 - 01 Jul 2022
25 Jul 2022 - 02 Dec 2022

Domestic Fees: *
$3437.00Scholarship info

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Exercise provides students with the knowledge to prescribe, deliver and adapt fitness programmes for the general population, including people with common health issues.

Your studies include 25 practicum hours working with a client on their health goals. 

COVID-19 Vaccinations:

At present, in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, it's highly recommended that you are vaccinated against Covid-19 if you want to apply for this programme. All health sector organisations engaging health care workers have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to take all reasonable steps to eliminate, or otherwise control, the risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace. The New Zealand Government has mandated the vaccine for frontline health care workers (first vaccination by 15 Nov 2021, and fully vaccinated by 1 Jan 2022). Many of the health care providers we work with are requiring their staff, including any students on placement, to be vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination. As more providers follow suit, if you are unvaccinated or if you choose not to disclose whether or not you are vaccinated, or to provide evidence if asked, this will have an impact on healthcare placements that are allocated to you as part of your undergraduate health programme and will have an impact on you being able to successfully complete the programme.

You can see more information on this on UCOL's Covid-19 page, and on the Ministry of Health's website.

?Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of UCOL's New Zealand Certificate in Exercise will be able to deliver safe and effective exercise programmes to clients. Employment opportunities include:

  • Exercise consultant
  • Community exercise instructor
  • Personal trainer

Graduates will be eligible to register with the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals for Personal Trainer Contractor Registration Level.

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries, see Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Occupation Outlook for Sports and Fitness Professionals.

Education pathway

  • New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 5)

Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Wellness) - with majors in Physical Health and Wellness, Strength and Conditioning, and Sport and Recreation Management.

?Course Information

This programme comprises 60 credits. 

Exercise Programming (30 Credits) (25 practicum hours)
Learn the knowledge to prescribe, deliver and adapt fitness programs to both health clients and common at risk groups. The course covers:

  • Anatomical and physiological terminology
  • Levels of anatomy organisation
  • Musculoskeletal system including joints
  • Identification of muscle names, joint actions
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  • Resistance exercises
  • Cardiovascular exercises
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Terminology – reps, sets, repetition max, forced reps, negative reps, assisted reps
  • Safety considerations including client health questionnaires
  • Health screening techniques
  • Fitness assessment
  • Basic training principles
  • ACSM guidelines
  • Professional code of ethics
  • Programme prescription
  • Exercise adherence
  • Exercise safety
  • Common at risk groups including: Asthmatics, Diabetics (type I and II), Hypertension, Pre/post-natal, Epilepsy, and older populations
  • First Aid

Health and Wellness (20 Credits)
Gain knowledge of health and wellness frameworks. Learn about nutrition principles, wider allied health professionals, and effective motivation and communication techniques to enhance commitment to personalised exercise programmes. The course covers:

  • Health and wellness framework
  • Digestion, absorption, storage and metabolism
  • Food groups
  • Food pyramid
  • Macronutrients
  • Micronutrients
  • Fluid balance
  • Dietary supplements
  • Diet recall
  • Professionals involved in the referral pathway
  • Communication techniques
  • Motivation techniques

Business Practices (10 Credits)
Learn about marketing and business practices as an exercise professional. The course covers:

  • Business plans
  • The four Ps of marketing
  • Marketing plans
  • The New Zealand exercise industry structure
  • Financial spreadsheets
  • Leadership
  • Management and supervisory principles 
  • Social media for business
  • Branding 
  • SWOT analysis

Previous Related Programmes

The New Zealand Certificate in Exercise supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

  • Certificate in Exercise and Sports Performance (Level 4)

?Student & Staff Profiles

?Domestic Entry Requirements

NCEA Level 2


Equivalent academic achievement


On a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Executive Dean.

All applicants must complete a Health Declaration Form (fill out Section A only). 

All applicants are required to declare any previous criminal convictions prior to admission being confirmed; and authorise UCOL to undertake a background check on the applicant with the Police Licensing and Vetting Agency.  UCOL will undertake a safety check of all students to ensure UCOL meets the legislative requirements of the Children’s Act, 2014.  The safety check involves confirming the student’s work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and completing New Zealand Police vetting. 

Convictions of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Head of School.


For more information about NCEA Credits see?UCOL's NCEA explained page.

?International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international students.

English Proficiency Entry Requirements:
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS General or Academic score of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL iBT testing centre. The English Proficiency test is accepted for English language entry into all UCOL programmes.

Applicants under 20 years of age:
For international applicants under 20 years of age who do not hold NCEA, International Academic Qualifications Entry Criteria apply.

?Advice & Guidance

Students will be working with clients when delivering exercise programmes and will be expected to wear appropriate exercise clothing suitable for a gymnasium environment.

Working with young people
UCOL will undertake a safety check of all students working with children under the age of seventeen years old to ensure legislative requirements of the Children's Act are met. The safety check involves confirming the student’s work history, verifying their suitability to work with children with a trusted referee, and the completion of New Zealand Police vetting.

Once admitted to the programme, students are required to inform UCOL of any pending charges or changes to their conviction status.  A change of status may not necessarily result in exclusion from the programme, but it may impact the availability of student practica or placements.


Practicum hours in this programme refer to student time with their client independent of the programme lecturer. Students complete time logs for all practicum activity and complete reflective journals on their client management. Students are required to participate in group discussion on their journal entries and client interaction experiences.

Your personalised timetable will be available just prior to classes starting, and will comprise a commitment of:

  • 240 hours of lecturer supported learning  (Monday - Friday tutorials, workshops and practical sessions)
  • 25 hours practicum
  • 335 hours of self-directed learning (your own time spent on research and study to complete your written assignments)

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • A completed Health Declaration Form (fill out Section A only)
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

?Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) as follows:
  • Sports shoes for wearing in the gym


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under section 249 of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to provide it under section 250 of the Act.