If you thrive on a good workout, then you could help others with their exercise regime if you become a personal trainer. There’s good money to be made out of it too.
- What’s involved?
- How do I qualify to become a personal trainer?
- Make between £15 and £75 an hour training individuals
Being a personal trainer is a great flexible job for exercise lovers. However, being a fan of the gym isn’t enough. You’ve got to be super enthusiastic, have lots of patience, be good with people, be a good motivator and most importantly you have to listen to what your clients are saying and respond to them individually.
Your main roles are:
- Set short and long-term realistic goals for your client and then devise a programme of exercise that will enable them to meet those goals.
- Take your client through the different exercises in their programme, demonstrating exactly how to do them and explaining the effect they have on the body.
- Motivate your client and coach them so they can get through their programme effectively.
- Advise your client on nutrition, health and lifestyle changes to keep them on the right track.
- Measure your client’s success by charting changes in body fat levels and heart rate.
It’s not just about helping someone get fit; it’s also about treating each client like they are your only customer and giving them a personal training regime that suits them. You aren’t there to just press buttons on exercise machines – it’s about showing people the best ways to get to the physical state they want to be in.
Step one: decide which area of personal training you’d like to specialise in
- Community fitness centres or private health clubs, training the members.
- Home trainers are usually freelance and have a portfolio of clients that they train at their homes.
- Exercise therapists work in rehabilitation clinics or centres.
- A sports-team trainer acts as a strength coach and advise on fitness levels.
- Hospital personal trainers help to rehabilitate patients.
- Personal trainers can also work with athletes doing athletic therapy.
To decide which of these areas interests you the most, see if you can speak to someone already in the field by contacting a facility where they work, or even organising to job shadow them for a day. This way you can choose the right courses for you.
Step two: get A qualification to become a personal trainer
There are two routes to becoming a personal trainer: take an academic degree followed by a personal training qualification, or just take the latter.
An academic degree in physical education, human kinetics, kinesiology and human movement science programmes will improve your chances of getting a job. However, having a personal training qualification without a degree should not hinder your progress.
You have to start with an entry-level personal trainer award which will cover all the basics of becoming a gym instructor. You can choose to do this intensely (with the YMCA you can have your basic qualification in 45 days) or take it module by module, working it around any other commitments you’ve got. The basic qualification is both practical and theoretical, so you’ll need to be fit and ready to go as well as ready to learn.
Then you can choose to take specialist modules in areas that particularly interest you, such as: massage, Pilates, yoga or weight training, as well as taking extra more specialised personal training modules that touch on areas related specifically to working with individuals.
There are thousands of qualifications available in the UK to help you become a personal trainer, often varying quite considerably in price which makes it difficult to know which one to take.
Do some research with your desired employer and see what kind of qualifications and experience they require for their employees. You don’t always have to do the most expensive course; you should look at what the course covers and whether the syllabus suits you. Taking all these factors into account should help steer you towards a specific qualification.
Step three: become professionally accredited
The National Register of Personal Trainers recommends certain companies who offer personal training qualifications.
There’s also an organisation called the Register of Exercise Professionals which defines levels of qualification given by certain courses. Courses will be rated at a certain REP level and to be a personal trainer you need to take courses that will give you an REP level 3. As well as basic gym instructor training, this will include basic anatomy and physiology and training to be able to work with special groups such as those with high blood pressure or diabetes and women doing pre and post-natal fitness. On the REPs website there are many approved courses with details of what qualifications they can offer.
Membership is £40 (including VAT). Once you’re accepted onto the registry you must maintain your membership by earning 24 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points every two years. These points are earned by taking new qualifications, attending seminars and workshops and reading the REPs approved journals. Up to 8 CPD points can be rolled forwards into the next two year period if more than 24 CPD points are achieved.
This then assures you’re up to date with the most recent advancements in the profession and keeps you learning new skills. As a member of the registry, your qualifications will be recognised around the world, which gives you the chance to work as a personal trainer wherever you like.
Step four: start working
You’ve got two options: find a job at a fitness club or gym, or become a freelance trainer.
A recent downsizing trend has meant that gyms are increasingly using freelance trainers to work in their gyms, rather than paying them a staff wage, which works out cheaper for them. As a result there are fewer personal training positions in gyms available than there were two years ago.
However, look around your local gyms, do some research on sites like Leisure Jobs and see what else is available.
Freelancing may not offer the same kind of stability as a staff job, but for people who wish to work around busy schedules or work as a trainer in their free time, being a freelance is much more convenient as you can pick the times you train.
To start out as a freelancer you’ll have to market yourself.
- Get your name out there by advertising your services wherever you can; in the local newsagent, on Gumtree or on any sites that list personal trainers.
- You can also look for job adverts for freelancers on any of the websites above.
- However, by far the best method of finding clients is by word of mouth, so try giving some of your friends a few sessions for free and try and get word out that you’re offering a great service at a great price and things should hopefully go from there.
The salary earned by personal trainers varies considerably according to where you’re based. In general, those in the south and London will earn £30–75 an hour and in the north it’s more like £15–45 per hour.
- Personal trainers cover quite large areas travelling from one place to another, so travel expenses can be pretty substantial.
- You also incur sporadic costs maintaining your membership of the REPs and attending courses and seminars.
- All personal trainers must have insurance because when it comes to exercise, accidents can and do happen and legal action is always a risk.
- You can buy the appropriate type of insurance from the REPs website.
- If you’re a freelance personal trainer but want to work out of a studio, you can often work in private gyms and use their equipment. However, you’ll have to pay a floor rent to the gym.
- The Registery of Exercise Professionals (REPs)
- Personal Training on the Net
- National Register of Personal Trainers
- YMCA Fit – A registered charity that offers personal trainer courses