If you are keen on health and fitness and you would enjoy working with a variety of different people, this job could be ideal for you. Personal trainers help their clients achieve their personal health and fitness goals.
To become a personal trainer you would first need to be a fitness instructor with a high level of experience and recognised qualifications.
You will also need good ‘people’ skills and an outgoing, friendly personality. A knowledge of the way the body works is important too.
As a personal trainer, you would first talk to clients to find out about their fitness level and health history. You would then:
- set realistic short-term and long-term goals and plan programmes for reaching them
- educate, motivate and coach clients to help them follow their programmes safely and effectively
- give clients advice on health, nutrition and lifestyle changes
- help clients with their workouts
- check and record clients’ progress, using methods such as measuring heart rate and body fat levels.
Your working hours must suit the needs of your clients, which is likely to mean working evenings and weekends. Travelling between locations would add extra time.
You could choose to be self-employed, which could involve renting space in a gym, setting up your own facilities, or visiting clients in their own homes.
Personal trainers are usually paid by the hour for each session with a client. There are no set salary scales and earnings depend on location, number of clients and whether the trainer is self-employed or works for a gym.
Self-employed (also known as freelance) instructors can earn between £20 and £40 an hour. Some instructors with high profile clients can earn between £50 and £100 an hour.
Personal trainers in full-time employment can earn between £12,000 and £20,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Level 2 Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction
Level 2 Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness.
You can take further qualifications specific to this career, which include:
Fitness instructor and personal trainer courses are widely available through colleges and private training providers.
Membership of a professional organisation, such as the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) or National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT) is also a good way to demonstrate your competence and skills and can help to improve your career prospects.
If you are already a qualified fitness instructor, you could take the Level 3 Award in Conversion of Advanced Fitness Instructor to Personal Trainer Status. This allows you to change your membership status on the REPs to Personal Trainer.
To work as a personal trainer you must also have public liability insurance and a first aid award. This must include a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation certificate (CPR). Professional bodies can advise on this as well tax, insurance and self-employment issues.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. You will need to check which schemes are available in your area. For more information, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and development
You will need to keep your skills and knowledge up to date throughout your career by completing continuous professional development courses, workshops and seminars. This is also essential for continued membership of professional registers like the REPs.
You could also take further instructor courses to increase the skills that you can offer, for example yoga, Pilates, nutrition or aerobics.
If you want to work with people recovering from illness or who have medical conditions, there are a number of specialised courses available, such as:
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a personal trainer, you will need to have:
- determination and enthusiasm
- good organisational skills
- good ‘people’ skills and an outgoing, friendly personality
- patience and the ability to motivate and inspire people
- a responsible attitude to health and safety
- knowledge of anatomy and physiology
- knowledge of nutrition and healthy diet
- tact and discretion.