How to become a personal trainer
Personal trainers are professionals who take their passion for health and exercise and marry it with a desire to help others achieve their goals. Whether they work with those who are training for competitions, seeking to lose weight or overcome injuries or ill health; a personal trainer can transform the mental and physical successes of individuals on their health journeys.
£14,000 to £20,000
What it takes to have a career as a personal trainer
To be a personal trainer, you need to demonstrate a commitment to fitness and the ability to motivate others but this job demands much more than that. You must be able to offer advice, understand the anatomy, encourage goal reviews and recognise injuries and other obstacles in your clients. You will be responsible for maintaining progression in those who you help as well as promoting their wellbeing and safety in all endeavours.
You will help your clients to set realistic goals and work with them to achieve their targets. This may mean that you teach people about the benefits of fitness or challenge those who know to push them further. Your job will be varied and your work will be demanding but the rewards will be great, both for yourself and those that you work with.
What qualifications will I need to become a personal trainer?
In order to become a personal trainer, you will need to meet a number of entry requirements for the profession. Needless to say, an enthusiasm for fitness and helping others is essential, but there a number of requirements that are imperative to ensure safety for yourself and your clients.
To be a personal trainer, you will need:
- To be experienced in fitness instruction, ideally in multiple types of fitness specialisms.
- A recognised qualification in fitness and/or exercise training.
- To hold public liability insurance to offer protection to yourself and those that you train.
- To have a sound understanding and working knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and physiology.
- To hold a certificate in first aid that includes training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
More information on the requirements for entry into a personal trainer career can be found through the National Register of Personal Trainers, who you may also decide to register with once qualified.
Essential Skills for Being a Personal Trainer
Personal trainers need to be patient and sympathetic to the needs, obstacles, goals and wellbeing of their clients. To be successful in this career, there are a number of essential skills that must be possessed. This includes:
- The ability to inspire, motivate and enthuse others.
- The ability to motivate clients when they feel as though they have ‘hit the wall’ or plateaued in their results.
- The ability to recognise potential injuries and to assess a client’s abilities and work within them, rather than pushing too hard and risking damage.
- Excellent communication skills.
- The ability to present information in verbal and written form.
- The ability to be passionate on an individual level and provide a bespoke service to each client.
- Strong maths skills for managing invoices and accounts.
- For self-employed personal trainers, marketing skills will also help ensure that there is enough business and plenty of clients.
- The ability to maintain up to date knowledge and continually improve your own skills.
Day to Day Work of a Personal Trainer
Personal trainers will spend most of their day working with their clients, usually on a one to one basis but sometimes in group workouts, to help them achieve their goals. They might spend some of their days on more administrative tasks, but on the whole, this is a physical job that will be demanding on a daily basis.
Some of the likely day to day tasks that a personal trainer will undertake will include:
- Meeting new clients and establishing their abilities and goals.
- Creating fitness and nutrition plans for clients.
- Directing and taking part in fitness classes and boot camps.
- Giving hands-on workshops in nutritional matters such as teaching clients how to make set meals and snacks.
- Working on a one to one basis with a client and focussing on specific parts of their body or training needs.
- Attending competitions or shows.
- Maintain and assess client records to evaluate progression and make alterations to fitness plans where needed.
- Managing social media pages to help motivate clients and increase new business.
- Issuing invoices and maintaining accounts.
- Taking classes and attending workshops to improve self-knowledge and understanding.
As a personal trainer, your work might mean that you specialise in specific areas or work predominantly with certain groups. This might include:
- Working with severely overweight clients
- Working as a personal trainer to children.
- Helping people recover from injuries and illnesses
- Working with competitors, such as bodybuilders, to help them reach goals by competition dates.
- Working as a trainer to the elderly.
How much does a personal trainer get paid?
The amount that you earn as a personal trainer will greatly depend on whether you are employed or self-employed, how many clients you have, whether you specialise in a specific area and the services that you offer.
As a guideline, a starting salary for a personal trainer is usually in the region of between £14,000 to £16,000 each year. With experience and positive reviews from previous clients, you could expect to earn around £17,000 to £22,000.
Some personal trainers are paid a salary by a gym and they will earn the same monthly wage, irrespective of how many sessions they complete each week. However, self-employed personal trainers have greater control over their earnings in that they set their own hourly rate and determine how many clients they will see each day.
Most self-employed personal trainers charge between £20 and £40 per hour. For those who specialise or are highly experienced and highly recommended, this hourly rate can increase to as high as £100.
Career Progression for a Personal Trainer
Personal trainers can design their careers to suit their interests and personal lifestyle needs. You might progress your career to enable you to work a shorter week or might learn to lead new classes in exercises such as yoga, tai-chi or boxing.
You may also decide to further your career by specialising in certain areas such as working with those who are recovering from illnesses or working with professional athletes or competitors.
Working Hours and Working Environment for a Personal Trainer
If you are an employed personal trainer, your working contract will determine what hours you are required to work. This will normally include out of office hours to accommodate the need of the majority of clients. You may also need to work weekends.
If you are self-employed, you will be able to set your own working hours. However, you must be aware that you will need to work at convenient times for your clients and this will usually mean unsociable hours.
You may work in a gym, at a training centre, in a client’s home or in an outdoor setting. Some personal trainers will even work in hospitals or schools.