The Definitive Guide: How To Become a Personal Trainer

Published: 07 Jun 2018

Personal Trainer

Thanks to photo sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest, the nation is now more fitness-mad than ever! You only need to open one of the popular social apps and your feed will be flooded with your friends’ take on poached egg and avocado on toast, or a dozen or so personal bests for a jog around the block.

So it’s no wonder really that more and more people are turning to the lucrative world of health and wellbeing when it comes to their career. After all, those in the industry – from personal trainers to fitness coaches – have the opportunity to earn well and keep fit at the same time. Can’t be bad!

And if you’ve ever considered becoming a personal trainer – some of the best in the business can earn thousands per week, owing to their huge social media following and complementing sponsorship deals – you’ve come to the right place.

Our guide to becoming a personal trainer tells you everything you need to know about the profession. From expected salaries to the training route you’ll need to take, we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to. Think of us as a handy careers advisor, giving you a leg-up to a rewarding career and guiding you to future job happiness. Read on…

What is Personal Trainer?

  • Job Description

    So, what will you be doing should you land a job as a personal trainer?

    You’ll generally provide a one-to-one educational fitness programme to your clients, either as a self- employed personal trainer or in a salaried role in, say, a health club or fitness centre. Once you’ve completed the necessary training, you’ll be able to offer a programme which promotes health and fitness via realistic goal setting. What this means is you’ll be tailoring each plan to the individual, offering encouragement and useful tips, as well as educating your client on the importance of optimum health and fitness.

    You might also give your client the lowdown when it comes to the equipment they can use in a gym, for example, or devise a fitness plan they can easily undertake on their own or with your assistance. In short, you’re helping your client achieve their goals by fine-tuning a plan which works for them and their unique lifestyle.

  • Hours of Work

    Of course, your working hours as a personal trainer must suit the needs of your clients. This could mean your social life takes something of a hit, as you may be required to work evenings and/or weekends.

    Some personal trainers – particularly those who are self-employed – may find that there’s a certain amount of travelling involved, too. Anyone considering entering the profession should certainly keep this in mind as you must factor into your working day the distance from your own home to your client’s.

    Becoming a self-employed personal trainer gives you the ability to be selective regarding your hours, though, while working for a gym or fitness centre might not allow for such flexibility.

  • Main Responsibilities

    Working with an individual client – or sometimes, even with a group in a bootcamp-style setting – a personal trainer will generally assess their clients’ skillset and needs before developing a health or fitness programme to set them on their way to meeting their goals.

    Patience is absolutely key if you’re to become a personal trainer, as is empathy and the ability to motivate. Here are just a few of the responsibilities you can expect to carry out as a personal trainer:

    • A thorough discussion/consultation with your client to determine their health and fitness history and goals
    • Setting realistic short-term and long-term objectives
    • Putting a plan in place to help your client achieve their fitness goals within a specific timeframe – for example, ahead of a holiday or big event
    • Giving advice on health, nutrition and lifestyle changes and helping clients with their workouts
    • Regularly recording the progress of your clients by, for example, measuring body fat, heart rate and keeping an eye on their diet and water consumption

Key Personal Trainer Qualifications

So, we’ve talked about your key responsibilities as a personal trainer but just how do you make it into the profession in the first instance?

You’d normally need to be an experienced fitness instructor already, with a recognised qualification, including one of the following:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing - Gym
  • Level 2 Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction
  • Level 2 Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness

On top of this, you can take further qualifications which relate to the career. These include:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training
  • Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training
Personal Trainer education

You might also decide to join a professional organisation like the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), or National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT). By doing so you’ll be demonstrating your competence and skills in the role, as well as giving yourself a better chance of progressing further down the line.

For those of you who are thinking of following in the footsteps of some of the digital world’s biggest personal training stars (Joe Wicks of ‘The Body Coach’ fame, and Aussie-based Kayla Itsines, to name just two), you could consider going on to take Level 3 Award in Conversion of Advanced Fitness Instructor to Personal Trainer Status. Signing up for this course will give you the chance to alter your membership status on the REPs to Personal Trainer – why not head here to discover more?

Vital Personal Trainer Skills

Do you think you have what it takes to become a personal trainer? As well as being a good people person, you’ll obviously need to have a certain level of fitness too. The reason for this is that you’ll probably be joining your client(s) in their fitness programme, in an effort to spur them on further.

Here are just some of the skills and personality traits worth honing if you’re to make strides in the profession:

  • Determination, enthusiasm and motivation
  • Organisation
  • An outgoing, friendly and approachable personality/demeanour
  • Patience
  • A great attitude to health and safety
  • Tact
  • Discretion
  • A good knowledge of anatomy and physiology
  • Knowledge of nutrition and diet
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How To Become A Personal Trainer

So, how do you become a Personal Trainer then?

By now you’re probably certain you’d like to become a personal trainer – but how do you go about it? First things first, look into the courses available to you – an NVQ or similar is a good place to start. Be aware, however, that fitness instructor and personal trainer courses can vary widely but are available at a number of places.

  • Don’t forget to sign up to become a member of a professional organisation like the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), or National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT). Keep in mind that you’ll also need to take out personal liability insurance if you’re planning to work with the public as a self-employed personal trainer, and it may also be worthwhile taking a First Aid course too.

  • GOV.UK is a handy resource for those wanting to start an apprenticeship in the industry. By doing so, you’ll be learning on the job while still receiving a regular wage, so it really is worth checking this route out as a viable option.

  • It’s worth remembering also that all trainers must possess the minimum level 3 NVQ in a personal training certificate from a recognised provider. If you don’t have one of these, you’ll need – at the very least – a bachelor's degree in a sport and fitness-related field.

  • Six months before being hired you’ll need to have acquired the certification and, dependent on experience, some candidates may also need to successfully complete a practical exam with the assistant director of the fitness centre or gym they’re hoping to work from.

How To Develop Your Personal Training Career

So you've been working as a personal trainer for a while and want to know where you can go next?

Qualified personal trainers can go on to work in a number of professions following a career helping people achieve their fitness goals.

A good next step could include training as a nutritionist, a sports masseuse or even going down the route of becoming a personal trainer to the stars.

So there you have it; the world really is your oyster when it comes to a career in this fast-moving yet lucrative profession. Grab your water bottle, lace up your trainers and get ready for a career which will take you places and keep you feeling fit too. Ready, steady…go!

So there you have it; everything you need to set out on the road to a new personal trainer career!

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