How to become a Personal Trainer

So you’re thinking about becoming a Personal Trainer? Our blog will cover all you need to know, from qualifications and skills needed, to the pros and cons of being a PT.

It sounds obvious, but apart from possessing the right characteristics, the most important thing you’ll need to become a fully qualified personal trainer is the right personal training qualification.

Whichever qualification you decide to undertake, it must be one that is from an accredited and recognised UK provider. Having an accredited qualification that is REPS recognised means that you can become a Personal Trainer in the UK but also use your qualification abroad.

What Is a Personal Trainer?

In short, a personal trainer is a qualified fitness professional that works with all kinds of clients to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. You can specialise in certain populations (from older aged clients to pre and post natal).

A personal trainer’s income can vary wildly based on your ability and experience and the competition in your area. Personal trainers can work for a company or be self-employed.

What Skills Do You Need?

There are lots of skills you will need to be an effective personal trainer.

Knowledge And A Desire To Keep Learning

Deciding what will work best with one client as opposed to another requires good knowledge about fitness and nutrition. It is essential that you know about developments and new thoughts in the industry so that you can ensure you are giving your clients the very best possible advice. This will involve you updating qualifications, considering new ones and being very well read. This will all enable your client to see you as the expert.


To be successful you will need to convince your client that their success is as important to you as it is to them. You will need to be enthusiastic, positive and proactive. Your clients may experience moments when the going gets tough and they want to give up. You will need to be able to motivate and energise them through those lows. A further skill is to ensure that every client, whether they have you right at the end of the day or at the beginning, receives the same level of energy and enthusiasm.


You will need to be an effective communicator on a 1:1 and if you want to teach fitness classes good with a group. In a 1:1 your communication skills will require you effectively listening to what your clients’ needs are, challenging when appropriate, being sensitive and empathetic, particularly if your client is obese and has body image issues.

You will need to know how to say the right thing when your client is low, sad, wanting to quit, but you will also need to know how to praise and reward. In group classes you will need to know how to be heard in a large class environment and deal effectively with group dynamics, when people for example are overly competitive or disruptive in the group.


This is about knowing when to push and when to offer support as well as knowing when something isn’t working and you need to restructure a programme. As far as the latter is concerned your programme may in practice not be working, so you need to know when you need to change things. Likewise, there will be times when your client needs some tough love as well as when they need a really sympathetic ear.


What Qualifications Do You Need?

To be a personal trainer in the UK you will need the following:

Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification

This is also known as a fitness instructor course. This will allow you to work as a gym instructor in a gym or health club in the UK. This is the same level as a GCSE. If you are studying part-time then the course can take around 6-8 weeks but if you are studying full time then it can take half that time.
This is not required as a pre-requisite for some of the Level 3 Qualifications. We offer a Level 3 Gym Instructor and Personal Training Diploma that covers the necessary Level 2 modules without having to do a separate course.

Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification

This allows you to work as a self-employed personal trainer in the UK. This is the same level as an A level or BTEC National Diploma. If you are studying part-time this can take around 18 weeks, full time it will take you around half that time.

First Aid Certificate

It is essential that you have a first aid qualification in case a client has an injury whilst they are working with you. Most are valid for 3 years.

Personal Trainer Insurance

This is, believe it or not, not a legal requirement in the UK. Personal trainer insurance will cover you in the event of your client injuring themselves when under your care. There should be no circumstances where any one is working as a personal trainer without it.

If a client is injured whilst working with you they could decide to sue you for that injury. If it leads to them being off work for a period of time you could also be liable for their loss of earnings.


Further Qualifications

It is always advisable to have a broad base of qualifications which will make you more marketable when potential clients are looking to find a personal trainer.

Another piece of advice is to look at qualifications that can set you apart.
An example would be to gain a qualification in obesity and diabetes management, or you may want to work more with children and therefore may be interested in a course on physical activity for children. All of our courses offer free CPD to extend your knowledge and skills set in a number of areas.

If you are interested in becoming a Personal Trainer, take a look at our course section on the website and our FAQ’s. Have a question? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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