How to become a Personal Trainer

What is a personal trainer?

A personal trainer or PT works with clients to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. They will create a personalised fitness plan and guide and mentor them through these sessions.

Personal trainers often work for themselves but can also be employed by gyms and fitness centres. Highly skilled personal trainers may also work with professional athletes.

Personal trainers will often work within gyms but can also go to clients’ homes or parks and other outdoor areas.

A personal trainer differs from a fitness instructor as they have more knowledge and will tailor each fitness programme and offer professional nutrition advice to each individual.

What are the key responsibilities of a personal trainer?

Where you work will determine your daily responsibilities, but typical duties for a personal athletic trainer include:

  • Demonstrating exercises and routines to clients
  • Assisting clients in exercises to minimize injury and promote fitness
  • Modify exercises according to clients’ fitness levels
  • Monitoring client progress
  • Providing information or resources on general fitness and health issues
  • Providing emergency first aid if necessary

In any place of work as a personal fitness trainer, it’s important to remember that in addition to helping clients get into shape, you’ll also be responsible for their safety during your workouts together, and for fostering positivity.

How to become a personal trainer

What qualifications do you need to become a personal trainer?

To work as a personal trainer you’ll need a Level 3 personal training qualification, ideally one accredited by a reputable organisation such as Active IQ.

It’s not necessary to have a degree to be a personal trainer. However, if you wish to undertake a higher education qualification, the most relevant subjects include:

  • fitness and personal training
  • health and fitness management
  • health, nutrition and exercise science
  • personal training
  • sport science and personal training.

Required skills and qualities of a personal trainer

As a personal trainer, you will spend all of your time working either one to one or with a small group of people. It’s important that you enjoy working with other people and are confident in leading sessions. You’ll need to have:

  • the ability to inspire clients
  • a friendly and outgoing personality
  • excellent people skills to enable you to work with a range of individuals with different backgrounds and motivations
  • a good understanding of the human body and nutrition
  • a love of health and fitness
  • excellent time keeping and organisational skills
  • the ability to deliver a high level of customer care
  • excellent oral communication skills
  • awareness and understanding of safeguarding practice and policy
  • high levels of enthusiasm and drive
  • problem solving and stress management skills

Personal trainer salary

Most personal trainers work freelance and are self-employed. They are therefore paid by the hour for each session they undertake. You can set your own rates, the more experience you have the higher your rates can be.

Freelance instructors can expect to earn between £20 and £40 an hour. This could be much higher, £50 to £100 per hour in some locations and if you’re working with high profile clients.

For those employed by a gym or similar, expect to start on a salary between £14,000 and £16,000. This can rise to £20,000 and £30,000 with experience.

How to become a fitness instructor

There are many different avenues to go down when becoming a personal trainer, and it all depends on which one suits you best!

One route you can go down is by gaining a qualification through college. Here you have the choice of going to a traditional college, or you also have the option to study through a distance learning college to fit your study around your current life commitments.

To become a fitness instructor, you need to obtain a level 2 qualification, like this ActiveIQ Level 2 Certificate in Gym Instructing.

Another way to start a career as a fitness instructor is by completing an apprenticeship that will give you the skills needed for the role.

Here are a couple of apprenticeships that apply:

  • Advanced personal trainer membership
  • Intermediate leisure team member apprenticeship
  • Intermediate community activator apprenticeship

To enrol on one of these apprenticeships, you usually need some GCSE’s, including Maths and English, or equivalent.

A different route to becoming a fitness instructor is by working at a leisure centre assistant while studying a part-time qualification.

This allows you to get hands on experience whilst gaining the skills and knowledge needed when making the step up.

Both the Register of Exercise Professionals and the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity help with professional development and aid with career prospects, so make sure to sign up.