Central YMCA partner with Nike to ‘power up’ the new-look FTA

Creating a more inclusive fitness industry for future generations
29 January 2020

Central YMCA has joined forces with Nike to re-launch the ‘YMCA Fitness Training Academy - Powered by Nike’, which is a free, two year Personal Training course and alternative to A-Levels or college. Together, they’re breaking barriers to empower and support even more 16 to 18 year olds into the fitness industry.

Two great brands, one common goal – to make the fitness industry as accessible as possible for young people. This sector still has barriers to entry, which prevent the next generation from fulfilling their potential and having successful careers.

Central YMCA and Nike want to create more sustainable employment opportunities in an industry which young people are passionate about. ‘YMCA Fitness Training Academy – Powered by Nike’ embodies Central YMCA’s mission to change lives through education and wellbeing and Nike’s vision of empowering young people through sport.

Three big barriers

Kerry Williams, Nike Training Brand Manager, explains why it’s so important for young people to overcome obstacles into the fitness industry:   

“There’s an entry cost. If you want to be a PT, you have to have money to be able to exercise, which means it’s not a very inclusive industry.

Secondly, we feel that the courses available are not robust enough to set young people up with a long term, successful career. There’s not enough practical input - we want to improve the level of education on offer.

Thirdly, there’s a massive lack of diversity. There’s also a huge drop off in sport participation for women - our research indicates that they feel that it’s just not for them.”

Ultimately, if Nike want to change the industry, we have to be part of the solution.”

Best of both worlds

Both brands bring a lot to the table. Since 1977, Central YMCA has delivered relevant training and qualifications to over 160,000 learners and Nike has over 25 years’ industry expertise, providing high-quality fitness footwear and apparel to improve performance. Rob Johnson, Central YMCA’s Director of Education and Training, says the partnership has mutual benefits:

“This partnership is really big. Central YMCA is providing education expertise while Nike has the ability to engage with young people in the right way, which gives us the opportunity to promote the FTA.

It’s a win, win. Nike is a very well known, loved brand, which particularly appeals to young people – that’s powerful.”

Nike could have partnered with other training providers, but Kerry says Central YMCA’s reputation and longevity shone through:

“YMCA have been at the forefront of fitness for over 175 years. It’s the oldest institution in the fitness sector, so it’s very trusted and professional. They never waver from putting young people at the heart of what they do – their pastoral care is amazing.

It’s not about profit or prestige, it’s about doing the right thing. That’s why Nike are working with Central YMCA.”

So what’s changed?

The course continues to include essential maths and English, practical work placements and strong pastoral support, but how will Nike add value?

Previously, the two year FTA course comprised of two main qualifications (Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer). Now, there are an additional seven new Continuous Professional Development (CPD) modules based on real industry experience, designed to equip learners with essential tools such as ‘Business Skills’, ‘Boxing Padwork’ and ‘Coaching Mindsets’.

Each CPD module is developed and delivered by an experienced Nike Trainer from a nationwide, diverse pool of talented and inspiring people. Each Trainer has been on their own journey and will be able to relate to learners in specific locations. 

Both tutors and learners will be provided with the “latest and greatest” Nike kit, such as T-shirts, shorts and tracksuits, with the aim of boosting confidence, creating a team environment and promoting comfort and safety whilst exercising.

Nike are offering free entry into various events such as Hackney Moves and the European Championships, plus learners can also take advantage of a range of exclusive Nike offers or ‘unlocks’ such as free fitness classes and other rewards.

There are currently 72 students studying at the FTA across London, Leeds, Manchester, Norwich and Ipswich. Over the next three years, the new partnership hopes to boost numbers to 250.

The power of belonging

Nike and Central YMCA both want to create a culture of inclusion through the new FTA and inspire future industry role models to live out those values. Rob Johnson explains:

“Nike are creating champions - it’s not just about the kit! It’s about relationships.

As a charity, creating community is much more important to us. Our relationship with Nike supports these young people through a meaningful learning journey, and hopefully, a meaningful career as part of a broader community.”

Kerry Williams agrees:

“We want to add value. We don’t just want to add swooshes and brand everything! We want to create a family culture.

We want to instil a team spirit that gives everyone a purpose. With each YMCA centre, we want to recreate those local identities and connect them altogether under the FTA banner. We want everyone to buy into it and feel very privileged to be part of this course.”

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from – everyone is accepted”

18 – year – old FTA student, Goku Nsudoh-Parish from Kennington, loves the feeling of ‘oneness’ on the course:

“When I go out and wear my Nike / YMCA kit, it gives me a sense of pride to know that although I’m an individual, I’m actually part of a collective as well. Everyone has a different background, but we’re brought together.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, everyone is accepted. Brands like YMCA and Nike value you for who you are and don’t judge you. I didn’t know much about the YMCA before, but now I love them. I really like what they’re doing for young people. They give us an opportunity to do so much with our lives.”

Aliesha Adia Brown – a fellow FTA student from Richmond, also feels excited about Nike’s involvement:

“It’s inspiring – partnering with Nike is quite cool. They have refreshed the course.

Nike support everyone, from young kids to grannies. They bring everyone from anywhere together. That’s what they do.

The Nike Trainers have got experience and come from different backgrounds. It makes me think that I can be like them or even better than them one day. I have the potential to do whatever I want to do.”

“Our graduates will have a head start over everyone else”

Central YMCA and Nike believe that ‘Fitness Training Academy - Powered by Nike’ is built for the next generation of Personal Trainers, unlike most Level 2 or Level 3 fitness programme currently available on the market. Kerry concludes:

“We hope to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world. We’re empowering young people to contribute to both their community and the fitness industry. Our graduates will have a head start over everyone else. Having learnt from the best in the industry, they will be confident and leave with a great mindset, knowing what their purpose is.

Health and wellbeing is such a big thing. Sport and fitness can address many issues like mental health, lack of confidence or loneliness. The future is in the hands of the youth and creating future role models who can enable others, is the most important thing for us.”

Next Course – September 2022

We’re currently recruiting for our next YMCA Fitness Training Academy – Powered by Nike, which will run in London, Leeds, Lincoln, Manchester, Doncaster, Norwich and Ipswich.

If you’re aged 16 to 18 and want to kick-start your fitness career with a free two-year government-funded, Ofsted regulated course, you can find out more here.