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16 Jun 2022
Ascend Learning pulls the plug on Premier Global NASM
By Frances Marcellin
Ascend Learning pulls the plug on Premier Global NASM
Premier Global, one of the fitness education brands in the UK, and a division of US-based Ascend Learning, has ceased trading
Photo: Shutterstock/Gardinovachki
Premier Global NASM, which is owned by US-based Ascend Learning, has announced it's winding up its operations in the UK.

It is not clear why a buyer was not sought for the business and Ascend declined to comment on this point when approached by HCM

The education provider has been known for its wide range of courses that trained individuals to become gym instructors and personal trainers. It also offered specialisms in categories such as post-natal, mental health awareness, senior fitness, youth training and corrective exercise.

All qualifications have been endorsed by CIMPSA and certified through awarding body Active IQ – also owned by Ascend Learning – which will continue to trade.

Students aiming to complete their purchased courses have until 31 December 2022 – referred to as the “Teach-Out Period” – to qualify.

If students do not pass their course before this date, they will not be able to receive the qualification, although NASM/AFAA-branded courses can still be completed through NASM’s website.

The company confirmed it will refund students who purchased courses on or after 26 April 2022. Refunds will not be available to those who purchased courses more than 45 days prior to the announcement.

Dan Rees, MD of Premier Global NASM, told HCM that Ascend Learning had taken the decision to invest in the 'higher-growth areas' of its portfolio, adding that 2021 was “an extremely challenging period”, but that the company was committed to looking after its students in the run up to the closure.

Despite the provision of an online learning model, which was first introduced in 2018, Premier Global NASM recorded a drop in demand for training in 2021 against tumultuous market conditions that started after Brexit and were compounded by COVID-induced industry shutdowns.

Rees told HCM he believes the industry is facing a number of challenges, saying. “Due to COVID, many people who had been working in the sector left when facilities were closed and they simply haven’t returned in the same volume.

"In addition, we haven’t seen the same level of interest in people looking to train and qualify to work in the health and fitness sector”.

Rees says he believes the sector is not offering enough stability or incentives to attract young, upcoming recruits, particularly for PT roles which often demand freelance or self-employed status.

“The health and fitness sector is competing with multiple other sectors to attract new talent,” he said. “We know it’s never been the best-paying industry for staff and with the cost of living increasing some people are looking for better-paying roles.”

NASM (the National Academy of Sports Medicine) will continue to offer courses in the US and other countries of operation.

Courses impacted by the closure include the personal trainer diploma – including Level 2 gym instructor and Level 3 personal trainer; strength and conditioning Level 4; pre-/post-natal Level 3; mental health awareness Level 2; and long-term medical conditions.

Premier Global, a stalwart of the early days of the UK industry, was founded by Norman Basson in 1992, opened its training academy in 2010 and was bought by Ascend Learning in 2014 and renamed Premier Global NASM to deliver the US NASM (National Association of Sports Medicine) certifications in the UK.

At the time, CEO Debra Stuart said: “Ascend Learning is a really well established firm in the US, and is known for offering real quality in learning for vocational education.

“From the Premier Global perspective, this acquisition comes at an exciting time and gives us even greater support and momentum to deliver on our growth targets within the UK and beyond in the next three to five years.”

The company launched its online training bundles in 2021 – which provided qualifying personal trainers with a way to streamline training for their future client demographic of choice – through a digital platform supported by a team of qualified tutors.

In addition to NASM and Active IQ, Ascend Learning owns a portfolio of education-focused brands, including AFAA (Athletics and Fitness Association of America) and Nursing CE.

Ascend Learning launched in 2010, employs around 850 staff across 280 locations, and generates around US$384.91m in sales per year.


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