HomeProgrammesExercise & Sport ScienceNew Zealand Certificate in Exercise

New Zealand Certificate in Exercise

New Zealand Certificate in Exercise

Level 4

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 | Te Pūkenga student training another student in UCOL gym
Quick info

Level: 4

Locations: UCOL | Te Pūkenga Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 19 weeks full-time
Part-time option available.
(See Course Hours & Duration for details)

13 Feb 2023 - 23 Jun 2023
17 Jul 2023 - 24 Nov 2023

Domestic Fees: *
$3523.50Scholarship info

International Fees:*
$12,500 + Student Services Levy Fee of $287.50. * Fees confirmed for July 2023 intake.

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.

The UCOL | Te Pūkenga New Zealand Certificate in Exercise provides learners with the knowledge to deliver and adapt fitness programmes for the general population, including people at-risk of common health issues.

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

 Course Hours & Duration

This programme runs for 19 weeks, including 2 holiday weeks.

Per week, your learning will include approximately:

Class Time
15 hrs

In-person, online and in-work learning, plus block courses at UCOL | Te Pūkenga.
Industry Experience
1-2 hrs

Supervised practicum.
Study Time
23 hrs

Study in your own time.

You can also choose to study part-time. Talk to us about your options with this programme.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of the UCOL | Te Pūkenga 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 Sports and Fitness Professionals, see careers.govt.nz

Education pathway

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

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, UCOL | Te Pūkenga is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time. If you have any questions call an Enrolment Advisor on 0800 468 265.

From 2023, UCOL | Te Pūkenga and the programme you have enrolled in will become part of Te Pūkenga. So, if you join UCOL | Te Pūkenga in 2023, you will be awarded Te Pūkenga certification. And, if you are a current learner graduating in 2023, you will be awarded a co-branded certificate.

This programme consists of 60 credits. The courses include;

Exercise Programming (30 Credits) (25 practicum hours)
Learn the knowledge to 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
  • Safety considerations including client health questionnaires
  • Health screening techniques
  • Basic training principles
  • Professional code of ethics
  • 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
  • Fluid balance
  • Communication techniques
  • Motivation techniques

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

  • Business planning
  • Marketing plans
  • The New Zealand exercise industry structure
  • 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 | Te Pūkenga to undertake a background check on the applicant with the Police Licensing and Vetting Agency.  UCOL | Te Pūkenga may undertake a safety check of all students to ensure UCOL | Te Pūkenga 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.  

Conviction of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Portfolio Manager.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5 with no band score less 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 | Te Pūkenga is a TOEFL testing centre.


For more information about NCEA Credits see the UCOL Te Pūkenga NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

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

English language proficiency
International learner applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS 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 | Te Pūkenga is a TOEFL testing centre.

Under 20 years of age
In addition to this, international applicants under 20 years of age must have NCEA equivalency.

 Advice & Guidance

Learners 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 | Te Pūkenga 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 learner'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 | Te Pūkenga 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. Learners complete time logs for all practicum activity and complete reflective journals on their client management. Learners 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 | Te Pūkenga 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 police declaration form
  • 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:
  • Sport shoes for wearing in the gym


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020, and Universal College of Learning Limited, a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga is accredited to teach it.