A fitness course promoted by 'Commando' Steve Willis has come under fire.

Image: Getty.

You don’t have to be a fitness enthusiast to know Steve ‘Commando’ Willis is one of Australia’s most recognisable personal trainers.

The 39-year-old became a household name as a coach on The Biggest Loser, while his 12-week ‘Get Commando Fit’ training program and his relationship with fellow fitness guru Michelle Bridges have only served to raise his public profile.

However, a coaching course currently being promoted by Willis has allegedly come under fire from members of the fitness industry and could be stripped of its accreditation.

The former Army officer was announced as a brand ambassador for the Sage Institute of Fitness in 2014, and features in promotions for its Diploma of Fitness Coaching.

In one advertisement, Willis states the course is “designed by the industry, for the industry” and “the best qualification” he has found.

The Sage Institute website describes the diploma as “cutting-edge”, and states all their training programs are nationally recognised and comply with guidelines set by the government and their training bodies.

Yet according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, the $18,750-a-year diploma has not been endorsed by Service Skills Australia, and is not accepted by Fitness First gyms around the country as a standalone accreditation for personal trainers.

Watch: The Glow team shares their most embarrassing gym moments. (Post continues after gallery.)


A number of reported criticisms have also been levelled at the coaching program’s facilities and safety. The Herald reports there are no dedicated gym facilities and limited basic equipment, while students are required to assist in building classroom walls in empty office suites.

Occupational health and safety reports also allege the former Sage Institute campus in Sydney had no first aid kits available and there were exposed wires in the roof of the office.

The Australian Skills and Quality Authority (ASQA) — which monitors private colleges — told the Herald the diploma no longer complied with its standards, and as a result has issued a notice warning the course’s accreditation could be cancelled sometime this year.

'Commando' rose to fame as a coach on The Biggest Loser. (Image: Tenplay)

The Sage Institute has since addressed the Sydney Morning Herald's claims in a statement.

The college's CEO Robert Hornsey says the training diploma was accredited by ASQA on 1 July last year, at which time the course owner was informed a review would be required — this is the process currently underway. Sage also stated that no accredited courses are ever endorsed by Service Skills Australia.

Regarding the claim about Fitness First, the statement explains that no students of the coaching diploma have graduated yet — and that when they do, Fitness First will accept suitable candidates who register. Sage also asserted that any occupational health and safety reports from students and staff have been treated with "prompt corrective action", and that their students have always been supplied with the required equipment.

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