My Experience Qualifying with Diverse Trainers

Looking to become a personal trainer? Thinking of enrolling onto a course by Diverse Trainers? Here’s my experience qualifying as Level 2 Fitness Instructor with Diverse trainers.

Who are Diverse Trainers?

Diverse Trainers provide the cheapest personal trainer and fitness instructor courses in the UK. Their courses are accredited by Active IQ and certified by REPS. At the time of writing, their course prices are as follows:

  • Level 2 Gym Instructor Course, £449
  • Advanced Level 3 Gym Instructing and Personal Training Diploma, £899
  • Level 3 Personal Trainer Master Diploma Course, £1799

The best about qualifying with Diverse Trainers.

I chose to qualify with diverse trainers purely because their Level 2 Gym Instructor Course was the cheapest I could find. Exercise 4 Less on Kirkstall in Leeds was assigned as my course location, and my course dates were 1st, 2nd and 8th July.

I wasn’t concerned with the quality of the course but my teaching days turned out surprisingly informative and fun. My female tutor Bev was very passionate about giving all students in my group much of the knowledge we needed to pass a practical assessment and a theory exam called Principles of Exercise. She also spoke about essential skills and principles we needed to acquire in order to be successful as qualified instructors. I learned a lot and felt very supported both on my course dates and studying remotely.

What I disliked about Diverse Trainers.

In my experience, the customer service was really poor. I’m not saying this as a pretentious person, I’m honestly quite calm and patient, but the way Diverse Trainers handled my certificate delivery angered me. The certificate delivery process is generally slow but mine was further prolonged by an unacceptable admin error. Although I confirmed my full address by writing via email, Diverse Trainers somehow input a different street name and post code for delivery. The city and my name were correct. Here’s how the story unfolded:

1st August 2017
I complete my remote learning coursework and request my Level 2 certificate.

10th October 2017
My certificate arrives at their office. That’s more than 10 weeks later (over two months!?). Strangely, my personal tutor informed me it actually takes 48 hours for certificates to go from the awarding body (Active IQ) to Diverse Trainers. Anyways, I confirm my address and my certificate is sent out for delivery within 2 weeks.

24th October 2017
My certificate hasn’t arrived and no postman has left any of the usual notes about attempted delivery. Meanwhile, I call Diverse Trainers every few days just to hear that my certificate should be on its way.

30th October 2017
First unsuccessful delivery. Diverse Trainers inform me that my certificate arrived back into their office on the 17th October.

13th November 2017
Second unsuccessful delivery. I ask Diverse Trainers to send me a picture when the certificate returns back to their office, and I was shocked by what they emailed me two days later.

15th November 2017
Diverse Trainers send me a photo of the envelope, and I immediately realize they’ve been trying to deliver to an incorrect address. That’s poor attention to detail.

Diverse Trainers Unsuccessful Delivery

I asked customer service how this mistake happened given that I emailed them my full address with 100% accuracy. The reply I got was:

Royal Mail sent it back to us explaining that the address was not found.
The second time we sent your certificate we searched the address on google and the address found was the one we sent it to.

 

I was shocked ever more. They didn’t check with me about any of that. They assumed I had made a mistake and did what they thought was right without keeping me informed. Not to mention I’ve been calling them every few days while my certificate was out for delivery. That’s poor communication skills.

Eventually, I got my certificate by asking them to forward it to a different address. It came a little creased but at least it didn’t get lost.

Would I recommend Diverse Trainers?

Yes. If you want to save money and are willing to wait at least 3 months until receiving your certificate, I would highly recommend signing up to a course by Diverse Trainers. It will save you a few hundred pounds, you will get taught by a supportive tutor and learn a lot on your teaching days.

 

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My Experience Renting from Morgans in Leeds?

Are you considering renting a property managed by Morgans City Living in Leeds? Want to know if they are a reliable letting agent? Let me share my experience with this rental company.

It’s been over a year me and my partner have lived in a one-bedroom flat managed by Morgans, at the price of £575 per month excluding bills. It’s a lovely little flat we’d happily live in for another year or two but wish Morgans and the landlord would treat us a bit better. Overall, however, it’s been a positive experience living in a Morgans home in Meanwood.

Morgans pressured us to sign the tenancy agreement ASAP.

A few days after viewing the property and expressing our interest in renting it, we were asked to pay a deposit of £863 to remove the property from the market:

1st month’s rent – £575
Agency fee – £114 per adult tenant
Guarantor fee – £60

It took us about a week to make the deposit. Meanwhile, we were reminded that we would otherwise lose the property. Fair enough.

A few weeks after paying the deposit, we were sent a contract to print and sign. We assumed we had secured the property and didn’t rush to sign the contract. Meanwhile, we were once again reminded that the flat will be remarketed unless we signed the agreement. A few days later, we signed and delivered the paperwork to their office in Headingley. It turned out we needed a guarantor signature because my annual income was too low (about £10k), despite my partner’s £21k salary alone. It took us another week to obtain a signature (and witnesses) from a guarantor who lived in a distant city up north. Meanwhile, we were given another deadline and threatened the property would be advertised back on the market. Although we paid the deposit and were finalizing the tenancy agreement, we were urged to hurry up via email and phone. Morgans explained they were just following the company’s standard procedures on prospective tenants.

A similar situation happened upon trying to renew the tenancy agreement at the end of our first year.

The landlord visits the property with little or no notice.

When something in the flat needs checking or repairing, the landlord would come promptly but without giving notice in advance. Our landlord is notorious for rocking up to carry out any requested repairs without making arrangements convenient for both sides. Not ideal if your partner works night shifts, right? Often, he would call us on today he, or a worker on his behalf, is coming. Imagine if you’re busy at home and someone unexpected arrives. We often felt our privacy was violated. Once, I got back from the supermarket to find the front door unlocked and a plumber working upstairs. I work from home most of the time so it’s incredibly distracting to have someone uninvited in the flat. We received no response from Morgans and the landlord on the issue.

Please note that the landlord may not be associated with Morgans and only hire them to manage his property portfolio.

Inventory items must remain in the property.

To free space in the living room, we requested the removal of a small table and one of the sofas. We explained we would feel better without those two items we hardly use. Unfortunately, Morgans were reluctant to remove any furniture from the flat unless advised by the landlord. If you were a letting agent / landlord, wouldn’t you try your best to keep your tenants as happy as possible?

So is Morgans City Living a good letting agent?

As a whole, me and my partner have had a great time living in a lovely flat managed by Morgans. In regards to maintenance issues, we found it more productive to speak directly with the landlord because the issues seemed to be addressed quicker if they didn’t go through a third-party letting agent like Morgans. We aren’t fully satisfied by the landlord’s service to us as tenants but we know it could be much worse.

I hope this post has been somewhat informative. I’d suggest researching the agent further as we haven’t had any major problems with the property, apart from the bath leaking into the neighbor downstairs on multiple occasions.

My Experience Applying for British Passport as EU National from Bulgaria

I’m a Bulgarian national currently in the process of applying for British citizenship and passport via naturalization. I’d like to share my journey to obtaining British citizenship, including the mistakes I’ve made and the valuable advice I’ve been given by the Nationality Checking Service in Leeds.

My life in the UK during the 6-year qualifying period.

I came to Leeds in September 2011 to study at university and graduated in 2014. I did my first job in the UK from 2013 to July 2015, and a second job from March 2015 till now, September 2017. I’ve lived on 4 UK addresses and I’ve met the residency requirement.

Best source of information on how to apply for British passport.

I began reading on how to apply for a GB passport 5 years after I first arrived in the UK. I used a computer with internet access to visit Britain’s official website for government services and information, the most legitimate of sources: www.gov.uk

I checked if I was eligible for passport and came across the following documents:

(1) Application for naturalisation as a British citizen: form AN
This is the most current application form at the time of writing (version Feb 2017).

(2) Naturalisation as a British citizen – a guide for applicants: guide AN
This is a guide on how to fill in the application form.

(3) Naturalisation booklet – the requirements: booklet AN
This document explains the requirements you need to meet before you apply for British citizenship and passport.

These three documents contain all of the information you need to know in order to be successful with your application, including which supporting documents to provide.

Personally, I was unsure if had filled in the form correctly so I decide to have my application checked by an authorized local service called Nationality checking service at the cost of £100. Your local NCS will provide the following services:

  • check that your application form has been filled in correctly
  • copy and certify your original documents
  • send it for you to the Home Office by secure mail

The supporting document I was required.

It was an absolute struggle to get an appointment with my local nationality checking service. I kept calling them at various times of the day with no success. It wasn’t until I emailed them when I got a call back on the following day. They asked me if I had obtained a residence permit which I had not. I didn’t think I needed one because my birth country was part of the European Union. I was told I not only needed a permanent residence card but I also must have had it for at least 1 year.

I applied for a residence permit and it arrived two months later. I waited a few months until I had spent a total of six years since I first entered the UK and contacted my local NCS again to arrange an appointment.

The weaknesses of my application.

My application was reviewed by a very stern British woman who identified several documents I had to provide before submitting the application.

(1) I didn’t bring my passport application in addition to my citizenship application. I genuinely thought I would be given a blank passport application form to fill in on the day of my appointment with the NCS. I was told I should have collected a passport application form from the post office.

(2) I was told I had to provide a letter from my university (Confirmation of Attendance) confirming I was a full-time student from 2011 to 2014. I presented my original Bachelor of Arts degree certificate but my advisor thought it didn’t prove I had lived in the UK while at university.

(3) I had missing payslips for 2015, the year in which I changed jobs. I had to provide either payslips or a P60 to prove I was physically present in the UK during that year. I had brought a P45 and a P60 for 2015-2016 but it somehow wasn’t enough evidence.

(4) The referee declarations had expired. Since I began working on my citizenship application a year before I got the appointment with the NCS, my two referee declarations had got more than 6 months out of date on the day I wanted to submit it. The advisor explained I had to get the referree pages resigned and redated.

My strongest evidence of living in the UK for the last 6 years.

The adviser looked at my supporting documents and classed the following as insufficient proof of my residence in the UK for the last 6 years:

  • Tenancy agreements
  • Council tax, electricity, gas and water bills
  • Letters from the Student Loans Company
  • International payments to my UK bank account

The adviser considered the following documents as sufficient evidence of my residence in the UK for the last 6 years:

  • PAYE forms: P45, P60
  • Payslips
  • Bank statements

What’s next for my citizenship application?

I had a second appointment with the NCS on 16th October 2017. This time, my adviser was very satisfied with all my supporting evidence and I was at last able to successfully submit my application for British citizenship and UK passport.

My advice to EU nationals applying for British citizenship and nationalization.

  • Do not throw away any letters that arrive in the post for you, apart from marketing mail.
  • Do not delete emails with important documents attached to them.
  • Keep and preserve all of your payslips and P60 forms in a folder.
  • Do not destroy bank statements. I regret recycling a big pile of paper bank statements from 2011.
  • Do not worry about your annual income. My advisor told me the success of my application does not depend on the amount of money I make.

Your feedback, please.

I hope this article has been useful. Feel free to leave a comment about your experience applying for British citizenship and do not hesitate to ask me any questions.

 

 

How a Thief Hurt My Feelings

I was out of town on 24 October when my room-mate messaged me that our house had been broken into and that my bike had been stolen – the criminal had grabbed the first valuable thing he happened to see before my room-mate came downstairs to investigate the bang produced by the front door been kicked in.

Broken into

I was shocked, furious and sad.

I haven’t had any of my belongings stolen till that day; plus, I couldn’t believe that somebody could take into possession something that didn’t belong to them. I was furious because I couldn’t have done anything to protect my bike and wasn’t in any way able to punish the criminal, perhaps a desperate person I don’t know. I was sad because I thought I’d never see my bike again; the good old second-hand mountain bike that took me to work, to university, to my girlfriend’s house, to all the beautiful places in Leeds where I go to chill or exercise. I felt like I had lost a close trusted friend.

Vlad's

Picture of my second-hand Diamond mountain bike that got stolen, taken in Bramley Park.

After all, it was me who took care of it, it was me who kept it rolling, and showed it love whenever it broke down. The bike carried my body and my energy as well. Now when it’s gone I feel like someone else is in contact with my energy by using the bike and I don’t think they deserve to be in contact with it.

The reason I’m writing about my stolen bike is because I have been confronted with a dilemma and I need your advice, dear readers. Shall I nurture the grain of hope that I will one day witness my bike again, for example offered for sale again in a second-hand bike shop, or being ridden by a stranger on the street. Or shall I let it all go, buy a new bike and move on. What do you think? I’m more inclined to do the latter.

How Being Away from Technology Turned Out a Good Thing

The motherboard of my Packard-Bell laptop broke about three weeks ago, on 15 Sep 2013, the week my course’s final year began. I was gutted mainly because I no longer had the comfort of doing creative work such as video and image editing at home, and had to go to university to do this.

A few weeks later, however, I became aware of some of the benefits of not having a laptop. I had started to go to bed earlier, at 10 pm instead of 11.30 pm, feeling much more energetic on the next day! I had started to get up earlier too, at 06.30 am instead of 08.30 am (07.30 am if going to work) and found motivation to go for a street workout in Burley Park before uni or work instead of leaving it for after that. Now, I sometimes exercise two times a day, thus getting stronger and healthier! Having such a small lifestyle change has been amazing!

So stay positive next time your laptop breaks, or you lose something practical you’ve taken nearly for granted, because your life might become a little bit better without it!

How Dancing Helps Me Celebrate, Express Gratitude and Connect with God

I have a special relationship with music. In short, music helps me connect with humanity and life on a deeper level. The process is usually accompanied by movement that’s often in the form of dance. It’s mainly through dancing that I invite sound to run through my body and mind, and pull them closer to the universe so I hopefully get an ecstatic glimpse of divinity.

I really enjoy going out to dance. Unfortunately, I don’t know any people who like to go out specifically to dance; instead, they all go out to get more or less hammered. When I ask them if they’d like to go out dancing next Friday night, they do not seem to understand what I mean. The word “dancing” appears to be a foreign word they cannot comprehend.

To clarify, when I say I enjoy going out to dance, I mean I enjoy going to a bar or club in town to dance to the music being played along with others. Alcohol consumption isn’t essential, at least for me; plus, the sort of dancing I’m talking about here doesn’t have anything to do with getting off with women on the dance floor.

On June 14 I went to a karaoke party with a few of my colleagues and later joined my girlfriend and her friends in town. I found it discomforting to sit around a table with people who were drinking. It was also painful to listen to their conversations and attempt to participate. I was restless and energetic and all I wanted to do from the beginning of the night was to just dance. When I finally got the opportunity to do so, I became very happy.

In the days that followed, I wondered why I so strongly craved a dance floor and good music to dance to. I wanted to know my core motivations and drives. As usual, I tried to analyze my thoughts and figured out that in essence dancing for me is an act of gratitude towards the universe and a way of celebrating my life. Although not everything in my life is perfect, it is through dancing that I could still say, “Thank you universe, for all good things in my life.” Currently, for example, I’m very happy and grateful I’ve got a job, faithful girlfriend, supportive family, strong healthy body, roof over my head and food in the fridge as well as the level of personal development I’ve reached.

And if for me break dancing is more about expressing myself as well as regaining strength to overcome pain and continue pursuing my goals, “casual” dancing is more about celebrating the seemingly perfect things in my life.

How I Found Meaning in a Boring Laborious Job

On 22 April 2013, I got a job as Marketing Data Entry Assistant. My main responsibility was to list clothing products following a specific Excel template, add information about the products such as size, color, description, barcode, material composition and price, and upload the finished Excel document on Amazon. During my first two weeks at work, the job felt rather boring and laborious. Soon afterwards, however, I realized a few exciting aspects of the work I was doing and my attitude changed.

Data Entry

I realized data entry involved a degree of creativity. I saved lots of time and effort once I began managing data in bulk and finally met my daily targets. I’m now always motivated to think of other creative approaches when listing products to further increase my speed.

Data entry was a process that also brought me satisfaction, a sense of achievement and, to be honest, a sense of control because the job involved putting things together and creating a sort of order. I mean I was given the necessary information about the products and all I had to do was to organize it in an Excel document in a specific way.

Creation was at the core of my job, too. Data entry was also about building, creating something that served a greater purpose. I mean that every cell of information I am provided with could be perceived as a brick that is to be used in the making of a structure such as the completed Excel upload file. The realization made my job more fulfilling.