It can sometimes be difficult to fully understand the path that takes you from an interest in personal training and the fitness industry through to making this passion into a career.This is why we’ve put together a detailed guide that will help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a successful personal trainer here in the UK. From the attitude and physical ability you’ll need through to the personal training courses you should look at enrolling on, we’ve covered everything you need to know about becoming a qualified personal trainer and launching a personal training business.
What is a personal trainer and what do they do?A personal trainer is a qualified health and fitness industry professional who works with clients to help them work-towards and achieve their health and fitness goals. As a personal trainer, you’ll spend a lot of time in a gym or health club, supporting people to work out in the right way. A personal trainer will have more freedom in their role compared to a gym instructor. Where a gym instructor will work generally to support gym users, personal trainers deliver a personalised experience for individual clients. Although some people think personal trainers just train all day – this definitely isn’t true. Instead, a personal trainer will be focused on their client – motivating and encouraging them to apply themselves, as well as educating them on the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ about getting healthy and staying in shape.
Why become a personal trainer?Virtually every personal trainer will have a slightly different reason for getting into the profession – but there are some common themes that apply to people who take on a personal training qualification with TrainFitness. Take a look at this list, and see which of these reasons might apply to you:
- Helping people. As a PT, you’ll be helping people improve their quality of life – a great feeling that leads to incredible job satisfaction.
- Opportunities. In a world designed for convenience, it’s harder and harder for people to stay fit. If you want a job with endless opportunities for work, being a personal trainer is a safe bet!
- Being your own boss. Many personal trainers are self-employed or start their own personal training businesses. Being your own boss can be very rewarding!
- Improving your knowledge. Your growing health and fitness knowledge can help you take steps towards your fitness goals too.
- Earning potential. With the right attitude, your personal training certification can help you unlock excellent earnings.
Where can you work as a personal trainer?You probably have an image of a personal trainer as someone who works in a gym, leisure centre, or health club. While this is true for some personal training professionals, these aren’t the only places a personal trainer qualification can take you. Personal trainers can be found wherever there’s an interest in health and wellness, including:
- Working at athletic performance centres supporting professional athletes
- Delivering personal training advice online
- Supporting occupational health departments for corporate clients
- Creating outdoor training bootcamps and classes
- Working at holiday resorts in the UK and overseas
- Working on cruise ships
Of course, there are also endless creative opportunities if you set up your own personal training business and have an eye for creativity and innovation. You can read more about personal training jobs here.
Is being a personal trainer a good career?Whether or not being a personal trainer is a good career will depend on you, your interests and your goals – but generally speaking, if you’re keen to get involved with the fitness industry, then becoming a personal trainer can be a dream role. It’s not just the industry and atmosphere that make a career in personal training appealing either – there are incredible opportunities to launch your own business, work for prestigious brands, climb the ladder within established companies, and even take your skills overseas and see the world.
What qualifications do you need to be a personal trainer?To become a personal trainer, you need to have successfully completed an approved Level 3 Personal Training Course. Although you’ll need a basic level of maths and English to understand the Level 3 course content, you don’t necessarily need any previous qualifications – so you don’t have to worry about having college qualifications or a degree to break into the world of personal training. Our Level 3 Personal Training Diploma also covers Level 2 gym instructing content too – so you don’t even have to worry about being qualified as a gym instructor to get started either. While Level 3 personal training courses are an ideal way to get your career started, you don’t have to stop there. In our Ultimate Guide to UK Fitness Qualifications, we’ve answered the what qualifications do you need to be a personal trainer question in more detail – and explored lots more about continued professional development (CPD), personal training courses and fitness industry certifications.
How long does it take to become a personal trainer?biggest factor in how long it takes to become a PT is how long it’s going to take you to get the personal training qualifications you need. The answer will depend on how you plan to study, as a full-time in-person course will be wrapped up much quicker than a part-time distance learning or online personal training course. Will full-time in-person study, you can expect to have your certification completed in between 5-6 weeks. Of course, finding a job and making sure you have insurance are also factors that will dictate how long it takes to get started – but when you learn with TRAINFITNESS, we can even help you fast track those things. Our Career ConciergeTM can introduce our newly qualified personal trainers to leading employers, agencies, and recruiters. Read more about this special service here.
How hard is it to become a personal trainer?Being a personal trainer is an incredibly fun and rewarding way to work and earn money – so it’s natural for people to think that it’s a difficult career to break into. In truth, how hard you find getting fitness instructor or personal trainer qualifications will depend on you and the training provider you choose. If you bring an open mind, a willingness to study and learn, and a positive attitude, you’ll find the study to be enjoyable and informative. The training provider you choose for your personal training qualification will play a big part in how hard your study is too. Here at TRAINFITNESS, we use cutting edge learning methods that tie the different parts of your qualification together in a way that will make sense in the real world. Also, we have a dedicated learner support team that you can call, email, or instant message whenever you need support – whatever it is you’re not sure about. When you get in touch, you’ll be talking to dedicated exercise professionals that know exactly what you’re working on – and they’ll make sure you go away with all your questions answered.
How much does it cost to become a personal trainer?
The financial cost involved with becoming a personal trainer will depend on the training provider you choose. The National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) correctly points out that courses can cost anywhere from around £900 right through to £30,000+, (although this huge figure would represent the cost of studying at university for three or more years). As one of the very best personal training course providers in the UK, we do everything we can to keep our courses accessible to as many people as possible, so our entry-level course starts at £599 – and there are options for paying in instalments to make things more affordable.
How much does a personal trainer get paid?
As with most jobs, there’s no ‘set wage’ for a personal trainer. The amount you get paid will depend on your experience, your location, the company you’re working for, and whether you decide to set up as a self-employed personal trainer. Industry averages suggest a personal trainer will be paid around £25 per hour – but in truth, this is often way below what a personal trainer could be expected to earn. In fact, the same industry studies find that some PTs will earn upwards of £80,000 each year. There are a lot of factors to consider when estimating what a personal trainer will be paid – and some of these relate to risk. If you’re happy working for a gym chain offering personal training services to their clients for a set monthly salary, you can be confident you’ll be paid this amount each month. However, if you’re willing to set up on your own and an independent personal trainer, you’ll probably find you end up with more money in the bank – but there’s the risk involved with finding your own clients, covering your costs, and other factors.
How to become an online personal trainer?The COVID-19 pandemic saw us turning to our laptops and phones for a huge range of services that we’d previously only accessed in person – and personal training was one of those areas. Across the world, PTs had to adapt to these challenging circumstances – and for millions of people in the UK, online personal training sessions were a hit. As such, we have lots of enquiries now about how to become a personal trainer who delivers their services over the internet. As with any kind of personal training, you’ll need to become qualified by completing a suitable accredited level 3 personal trainer course. When you’re qualified and hold the correct insurance, it’s a good idea to get some experience working for a company that currently offer in-person and online personal training sessions. Read our full guide on How to Become an Online Personal Trainer.
What makes a good personal trainer?We firmly believe the foundation for an excellent personal trainer starts with the training they receive. However, as much as your training on ongoing development are vital; they’re not the only traits you need to make you a great PT. Personal trainers also have – or try to develop – the following skills to make them more effective at their role:
- Knowledge. A good understanding of your field of expertise
- Friendliness. Being approachable is a key part of communicating with your clients.
- Communication skills. Effective speaking and listening is key to understanding what your clients are saying and whether they’re understanding you.
- Patience. Not everyone will have your level of motivation – so you’ll often have to be patient with people who don’t have your passion for fitness!
- Adaptability. Working with people means you have to be ready to change and adjust as they move the goalposts (and they will!)
- Professionalism. Although you’ll almost certainly become friendly with your clients, staying professional and remembering you’re delivering a paid service is important.
- Organisation. Running a tight diary is essential as a PT – clients don’t want to be let down!
- Internal motivation. As a PT, you’ll have to face early mornings and a busy schedule – so it’s important to find ways to stay motivated to deliver the best service to your clients.
Do personal trainers have to be fit?When you imagine a personal trainer, you probably think of someone with lots of muscle, low body-fat, and incredible endurance and strength. This can make the job feel unobtainable – but the good news is, a six-pack is not an entry requirement to the personal training world! We expect the people coming to train with us to have a reasonable level of fitness – as this will help them demonstrate the methods they will be using with future clients – but what you see when you look in the mirror is far less important than the solid knowledge you’ll build as you learn. Sometimes, people will decide they want a PT that’s in amazing shape – but equally, people starting out on the path to fitness might consider a muscle-clad PT to be a little intimidating. The shape you’re in will appeal to different clients – but world-class knowledge will appeal to everyone. Read more on Do personal trainers have to be fit
How old do I have to be to be a personal trainer?
As a minimum, you have to be 18 to be a personal trainer – and a big part of the reason why relates to the personal trainer insurance you’ll need to hold to practise as a PT. As a personal trainer, you’ll almost certainly be working with clients of varying ages. It’s not uncommon to work with sportspeople and athletes who are children and teenagers – but also private clients who are 70 or older. As such, age shouldn’t be a huge concern. Instead, a mature and considered way of applying your knowledge and practical experience is the thing that will help your clients get the results they need. Read more on How old do I have to be to be a personal trainer.
What are the negatives of being a personal trainer?
As a provider of personal trainer courses, you probably think we’ll have nothing but good things to say about our industry – but, like with any role, being a PT does have some downsides.
- As a self-employed personal trainer, you could find you have no guaranteed income – which can be a worrying prospect when you’ve got bills to pay.
- You might find you work unsociable hours – which can clash with leisure time and life with friends and family.
- You will, sooner or later, have difficult clients that don’t follow your guides but still expect amazing results.
- Being self-employed means you often won’t have any holiday or sick pay.
Honestly though, when your career as a personal trainer is flying, these things are likely to feel like very minor downsides of an otherwise incredibly fun and fulfilling career. However, they’re worth thinking about – because if they’re things that you feel you’ll struggle with, it’s important to understand them in more detail.
How to become a personal trainer for kids?Children might not be the first clients people think of when they picture personal training sessions – but an increasing number of children are accessing personal training, both for sporting and health reasons. To become a personal trainer for children, you’ll need the same qualifications as you would if you wanted to work with adults – a level 3 personal training accreditation. You’ll also need to have a criminal Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. There are additional qualifications you can explore if you want to work with children – including:
- Children’s Fitness Instructing
- Exercise with disabled clients & Exercise and Disability (if you’d like to work with children with additional needs)
When qualified, you’ll be able to explore employment opportunities in a number of places – including:
- As a freelance PT, working directly for parents of children
- Children’s sports clubs
- Schools and education facilities
- Gyms, leisure centres, and health clubs
Read our full guide on How to Become a Personal Trainer for Kids.
What are alternative jobs for a personal trainer?While most people train to become a personal trainer to deliver one-to-one personal training sessions with clients, there are actually more diverse roles available for qualified PTs. As someone who has completed a personal trainer course, there are some incredible opportunities out there, including:
- Gym or leisure manager
- Fitness industry sales
- Health, wellness, and nutrition coaching
- Group exercise instructor
- Fitness blogger, writer, or influencer
- Fitness model
- Workout developer
Of course, there are also a range of advanced personal trainer jobs that you can look into after completing additional training, including:
- Exercise referral
- Fitness course assessment
- Strength and conditioning coach
- Exercise with disabled clients
- Quality assurance
- Back pain management
- Obesity and diabetes management
Read our full guide on Alternative jobs for a personal trainer