How to Become a Personal Trainer

Personal Trainer working with client

How to Become a Personal Trainer

Want to know how to become a personal trainer but unsure about where to start? If you’re working a boring 9-5, then you probably find yourself daydreaming about changing careers. Keeping fit and at the same time helping people making a difference in their lives makes being a personal trainer a very appealing career choice. 

But the sheer amount of information out there can make it difficult to know how to start your journey. Thankfully, we’ve put together this post that outlines the steps to become a personal trainer, from what to consider at the start of your search to securing your first client or job.

What does a personal trainer do?

This might seem like an obvious question, but what does a personal trainer actually do? At a basic level, a personal trainer creates one-on-one fitness programmes for clients, keeping them motivated and guiding them to achieve their goals.

Those goals may be to lose weight, gain muscle or improve overall fitness. Or they may have more tangible goals, such as running a marathon or reaching a certain level of fitness. Or perhaps they may want to have guidance from someone with more knowledge than themselves. 

While they sound similar, a personal trainer is not the same as a fitness/gym instructor. Still, it’s not uncommon to train as a fitness or gym instructor first before qualifying as a personal trainer. At Future Step Education, we offer separate level 2 gym instructor and level 3 personal trainer courses or a combined course that will give you both qualifications using widely recognised awarding bodies, such as Active IQ and Focus Awards.

To summarise, personal trainers work with clients by – 

  • Session by session programming for 1 on 1 exercise
  • Individualised programme delivery
  • Health and fitness assessments, fitness testing and goal setting and management. Goals are always client-driven
  • Nutritional guidance and advice
  • Long term, progressive planning based around the client’s lifestyle

How fit do I need to be?

As you would expect, some degree of fitness is necessary. You’ll need to demonstrate, coach and teach different exercises and techniques, so it’s useful to have some experience of gym-based exercises, including resistance machines and free weights. Part of the appeal is that it’s a job where you’ll constantly be on your feet; this means you’ll need the fitness to match.

However, aside from that, age, weight, height, or even a disability are no barrier to becoming a personal trainer. If you’re concerned that you have a condition that would make it difficult to become a personal trainer, please get in touch with our experienced tutors, who will give you guidance about whether this is the case.

What makes a good personal trainer?


What do our best students all have in common? They are motivated, enjoy working with people and have a passion for fitness. 

  • Personality: Clients are looking for your support; your passion will encourage their motivation and self-belief. Maintain that professional relationship from the start
  • Socially confident: Be happy to talk to anyone and put people at ease. Make it fun and enjoyable, whilst challenging the client to progress
  • Caring/empathetic: Build a trusting relationship with your clients. Excellent client care is essential – display and promote professionalism and honesty
  • Patience: Inspire your clients and keep them on track without being judgmental
  • Value: By investing in you, the client is investing in themselves, their health and wellbeing

How long does it take to train to be a personal trainer?


How long it takes depends on the amount of time you can commit to learning. Full-time intensive courses can give you a qualification in two weeks, part-time courses can get you qualified in 8 weeks, or if you’re unable to commit to an in-person course, our online courses can be completed at your own pace as long as you finish within two years of starting. 

To undertake a level 3 certificate in personal training, you’ll need to have completed a level 2 in fitness instructing course first. However, you can combine the two and undertake a level 3 diploma in fitness instructing and personal training, accelerating your progress.

How much does a personal trainer earn? 


Almost 80% of personal trainers are self-employed, with typical earnings in the range of between £20 and £40 per hour. However, depending on where you’re based and your clientele, a rate of £50 – £100 per hour is not unrealistic (Prospects). Typical hours are between 32 and 34 hours per week (National Careers) and working hours in a day can be what you choose if you are self-employed!

What experience do I need to become a personal trainer?


Many people come into personal training with no previous experience, some may not have trained in a gym before,  while others may have previously worked as fitness instructors and have studied Sports Science or a similar subject, or just have a passion for fitness, train themselves regularly and want to be part of the industry. Happily, there are no basic qualifications needed before starting your journey, no prerequisites to begin your course. Upon completion, you are guaranteed a qualification that is widely recognised and is ideally suited to anyone wanting to begin a career in fitness.

Course accreditations


It’s essential to undertake a course which is a fully accredited and internationally recognised qualification; the main bodies are:

Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport (CIMPSA) and Physical Activity – the professional development body for the UK. REPS (Register of Exercise Professionals) has now amalgamated with CIMPSA

Active IQ Ofqual – approved within the Active Leisure sector.

Focus Awards Ofqual – approved spanning 11 sectors

Which course is best for me?


The starting point for everyone is the Level 2 Gym Instructor Course. It’s an internationally recognised qualification allowing you to work in a fitness centre instructing and coaching clients. This is the first step for anyone who wishes to get some experience within the industry.

The Level 3 Personal Trainer Certificate provides a deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology and how nutrition affects health; you’ll learn how to design and deliver personal training programs to clients. You’ll have the freedom to start your own personal trainer business or work in a gym. You’ll need to have completed the Level 2 Gym Instructor course before beginning this course.

If you’re looking to further develop your knowledge and skills, then our Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training is for you. This combines the Level 2 Gym Instructor and Level 3 Personal Training certificate into one qualification. Once qualified, you will be able to offer client consultations and design advanced fitness plans. Studying at this level not only increases your employability but also opens up a wider client base.

How are the Courses Delivered?


Personal training courses are delivered in three ways:

1. Online Courses

Online courses allow you to complete the course in your own timeline. Courses are self-paced and delivered online. You can complete the practical aspects of the course in a gym local to you under the supervision of a qualified instructor. Check the course offers the full support of a personal tutor, like we do, ideally someone who has personal training experience. At Future Step Education, our fitness tutors have a combined 26 years experience in the industry, combining personal training, group exercise and club management. We know what it takes to be successful in fitness.

2. Part-Time Study

Part-time courses allow you to fit study in around other commitments such as work or childcare. These are usually delivered either by evening or weekend classes or combined face-to-face tuition with online learning. 

3. Full-time study

If you have the time or are eager to get qualified quickly, then a full-time course is ideal for you. By studying full-time, you can be qualified in as little as ten days. These courses are delivered face-to-face combining the classroom with practical gym sessions.

How much does it cost?


The cost of a course depends on the type and how it is delivered.

A level 2 Gym Instructor course can cost as little as £250 and allows you to start working within a gym upon qualification – a great way to start your career if money is tight. A full-time Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and Gym Instructing can cost up to £799. 

At Future Step Education, we offer 0% payment plans to spread the cost of courses over several months.

How do I find a job as a personal trainer?


Once qualified, you can work in a gym/fitness centre. These can be in a variety of environments:

  • Local leisure centre
  • Gyms
  • Health clubs
  • Hotels
  • Spas

In addition to the generic job boards and LinkedIn, there are also industry-specific jobs boards: 

Leisure Jobs

Leisure Opportunities

The Caterer

How do I set up my own business?


Often the driving factor for qualifying as a personal trainer is to set up your own business. You’ll have complete freedom to choose how and when you work. 

There’s lots of information and resources on Gov.UK to help you with setting up your business. It’s wise to write a business plan, in which you’ll need to decide who your target market is, what services you can offer to meet their needs, how much you will charge, and how to market your services. A business plan will show your predicted profit and provide an estimate of start-up costs. 

Find your local business growth hub on the LEP Network for business support.

What insurance do I need?


It’s advisable to take out: 

  • Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Business/Sports Equipment Insurance 
  • Personal Accident Cover
  • Loss of Earnings Cover

Professional indemnity insurance covers you should a client hold you responsible for sustaining an injury or if damage has occurred on someone else’s property. Public liability covers your damages to equipment or property.

Equipment could be a big part of your ongoing costs, so make sure it’s covered in case it gets damaged or stolen.

Being self-employed, you’re not entitled to sickness pay. Personal accident and loss of earnings insurance will cover you in the event of not being able to work due to personal injury.

Your journey starts here


We hope we’ve answered many of your questions; if you have any questions or comments, please contact us. Or for more information about what we offer, please visit our fitness courses.