Step 1: Consider if the personal trainer career is right for you

So, you love working out? Do you value fitness? Is it your passion to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Would you like to help others achieve their fitness goals? If you do – great. Love for fitness and helping other are crucial traits of personal trainer.

However – are you ready to take on the challenging role of a personal trainer? Are you ready to dedicate few years to building your successful PT career? Finally, do you have what it takes to become one?

Consider reading some of our helpful guides:

Now, if you still want to become a PT continue reading this guide.

Step 2: Get required qualifications

You can’t be a Personal Trainer in the UK without completing your personal trainer course. Any reputable gym or health club will ask to provide a valid PT diploma and won’t employ you if you can’t produce one.

To become a PT in the UK you need to complete two courses: Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification. Most of the providers sell them in packages and tend to call their courses Personal Trainer Diplomas or Certificates.

It is usually cheaper to do them both in one package rather than separately so we strongly recommend you get both.

Please be aware that there are different Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications on the market (for example Exercise to Music is a Level 2 course) but you need to specifically complete Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Trainer courses otherwise you won’t be considered a fully qualified Personal Trainer and won’t be recognised as a PT by any of awarding bodies.

Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification

The Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification is usually the first step that one takes after diving into the world of fitness careers in the UK. Taking the course allows you to work as an instructor in a gym or health club, but it only covers those entry level positions.

Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification is also known as the Fitness Instructor one – these two terms describe the same course and are commonly used.

The course can take a few weeks to finish when studying part-time, but it takes less time when it is studied full-time.

On its own Level 2 course entitles you to work within a gym environment. Most of the time you will be responsible for inductions, maintaining gym equipment, writing simple exercise plans and instructing people on the gym. If you have additional qualifications often you will be able to run group exercise sessions (like kettlebells).

To pass Level 2 you will need to complete a set of exams: theory and practice. Theory exam consists of multiple choice test with questions around anatomy & physiology. You must successfully answer 70% of them to pass.

Practical part represents the lesser challenge for majority of students. Any previous gym experience is a great asset. On the course you will familiarise yourself with a proper use of resistance machines, free weights, cardiovascular machines and you will have to demonstrate your ability to train someone on these them. You must be able to correctly spot your clients as well as safely pass the barbell (with correct deadlift form).

Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification

Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification is way more difficult than Level 2. In principle, it covers similar content but goes into more depth.

To complete your coursework you will have to design the personal training programme and prepare the nutritional case study. The course covers everything from Anatomy & Physiology to maintaining safety in a fitness environment. You will learn how to create healthy and productive exercise routines for a variety of clients, and how to effectively communicate with them. You will learn about the importance of a healthy diet and the basic principles of nutrition.

At this point, if you successfully completed both Level 2 and 3 qualification you are a fully qualified personal trainer.

Choosing the right course is a crucial step. These guides help you to select the best PT courses and save money on your qualifications:

Additional Qualifications & Things to Consider

First Aid Certificate

Putting the First-Aid qualification on your CV can greatly influence your chances at getting hired. It is a temporary certificate, so you must update it every three years, but it is well worth the time that it requires. The first-aid course teaches trainers how to perform basic medical care in case of injury. However, this qualification does not certify you to diagnose or medication major medical issues. This certification covers minor injuries only (a.k.a. anything can be fixed with the contents of a first aid kit).

CPD courses

Your PT education doesn’t have to finish here. The more skills that you put on your resume, the more hire-able you are. Not only do more skills often mean higher pay, they also represent your dedication towards your career.

As a PT, you will be required to continue education so that you stay informed on recent discoveries in the physiological community, so take that chance to make yourself more and more valuable to your clients. The more categories that your skill-base falls under, the more likely you are to be hired.

Personal Trainer Insurance

Although Personal Trainer Insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK, it is in your best interest to get PT Insurance before you interact with you first client. If you work for one of the health club chains most likely you will be covered by their insurance and won’t need to bother with getting your own.

We’re only human and accidents happen, but that doesn’t mean that this is something to be taken lightly. It is very important that you have Personal Trainer insurance so that it will protect you from overpaying for the mistakes that have made. If you have not invested in insurance and something happens to go wrong with your client, you will be responsible for the costs of their injury. If your client sustains an injury during a workout that leaves them unable to work, you could be held liable so the advice is to get Personal Trainer Insurance immediately.

If you decide to have your own clients (and frankly this is what your end goal should be) then you will need to insure yourself. I guess most of your clients won’t ask you if you are insured but you will need it in case something goes wrong (severe injuries, accidents, injuries caused by your poor advice).

Step 3: Find a job or start your own personal trainer business

Having PT Diploma itself won’t make you a Personal Trainer just yet. You need to put your knowledge into test – actually, start training people. For that, you have to find clients or land a personal trainer job.

You really have three options when it comes to getting a job:

  • Self-employment
  • Working for a gym/health club
  • Mix of both

Each of these options has their pros and cons. Self-employment is really where the real money in fitness are. Depending on your experience and clientele you can charge anything from £25 – £50. Even £100 is not something unheard of. The difficulty is, of course, getting clients, especially at the beginning where you can’t count of referrals. You really need to learn how to market yourself and work on your people skills.

Working for gym or health club gives you an access to their client base. Very often you will have to work on self-employment basis or pay so-called rent (or both). However, if you are clever and know how to get customers from a gym floor you will do fine. This kind of work is not for everyone and you will have a rather hard time getting customers without solid people skills. In short – you need to make yourself likeable.

The last option to explore and perhaps the best one is the mix of self-employment and working for a heal club. Mixing both will most likely mean working unsociable, long hours. However, this won’t last forever and once you build your own solid client base you will be living the life you always wanted.