Career Change to Personal Training


In recent years, the growing demand for personal trainers has significantly increased, driven by a variety of factors that highlight the increasing importance of health and fitness in people’s lives.

The modern lifestyle, characterised by long work hours, sedentary habits, and easily accessible but often unhealthy food options, has led to a rise in health concerns, including obesity, stress-related and chronic illnesses.

This, in turn, has sparked a growing awareness about the need for regular exercise and fitness guidance, driving the need for personal trainers and fitness professionals.

A career in personal training can be appealing for a variety of reasons, as it offers a unique blend of personal satisfaction, flexibility, and opportunities for impact.

Becoming a personal trainer is a meaningful and fulfilling career because ultimately you are able to make a positive impact in the lives of real people. 

In this article we will present the steps required to make the career change to personal training. We will go over the role, your readiness, education and necessary certifications required.

Why Personal Training?

The Role of a Personal Trainer

The role of a personal trainer is to guide, educate, and support individuals in achieving their health and fitness goals. 

Personal trainers assist individuals in enhancing their general well-being, boosting their strength and fitness capacities, and attaining their intended results.

The Rewarding Aspects of Personal Training

Transforming Lives: Witnessing clients’ progress and positive changes in their health and fitness can be incredibly rewarding. Personal trainers play a role in helping individuals achieve their goals and improve their quality of life. Being able to directly impact someone’s health, confidence, and overall well-being can bring a strong sense of purpose and satisfaction.

Flexibility & Independence: Many personal trainers have the flexibility to set their own hours, which can offer a better work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.

High Earning Potential: A career as a certified personal trainer offers both financial and emotional rewards. Building a strong reputation and client base can ultimately lead to increased income opportunities.

Evaluating Your Readiness

Whether you want to become a self-employed or employed personal trainer, starting your journey and establishing yourself requires dedication, commitment and a significant investment in time. Whichever avenue you decide to go down, becoming a personal trainer requires:

Initial Education and Certification: Your journey begins with enrolling in a reputable personal training course. These courses provide you with the foundational knowledge of functional anatomy, physiology, nutrition coaching, behaviour change and programme design.
Continuous CPD: After completing your L3 PT, this is merely your ticket into the industry. This is just the start of your career and it’s important to always remain a humble student. The industry is constantly evolving. To stay competitive and relevant, you’ll need to engage in continuous education, attending seminars, workshops and staying up-to-date with the latest developments.

Assessing Your Passion for Health and Fitness

To achieve success in the health and fitness industry, it’s imperative to recognise that a genuine passion for health and fitness serves as a fundamental cornerstone. This passion isn’t just a casual interest; it’s a driving force that fuels your commitment and dedication.

A passion for the craft is imperative for sustained motivation, authenticity, emotional investment, adaptability, longevity, personal satisfaction and resilience.

Transferable Skills from Your Current Career

Many individuals entering the field of personal training might be surprised to discover that they possess transferable skills from their current or previous careers that can significantly contribute to their success in this new endeavour. These skills can serve as valuable assets as they transition into the role of a personal trainer. 

Transferable skills include and are not limited to:

Communication: Effective communication skills from previous roles can help in explaining exercises, demonstrating proper form, and building strong client relationships.

Customer Service: Experience in customer service roles can aid in providing excellent client experiences and addressing their needs and concerns.

Problem-Solving: Skillful problem-solving abilities translate into adapting workouts for different fitness levels and addressing clients’ challenges.

Time Management: The ability to manage schedules and tasks carries over to creating efficient workout plans and managing client appointments.

Motivation: If you’ve been in roles that require motivating others, you can apply this skill to keeping clients engaged and inspired to achieve their fitness goals.

Adaptability: Flexibility in adjusting to different situations is valuable for tailoring workouts to individual client needs.

Empathy: Empathy developed in previous roles can be used to understand clients’ struggles and provide emotional support.

Leadership: Leadership skills are crucial when guiding clients through exercises, offering direction, and setting the tone for their fitness journey.

Sales and Marketing: Skills in sales and marketing can help you promote your services, attract clients, and build your personal training business.

Data Analysis: Analytical skills can be useful for tracking clients’ progress, evaluating results, and adjusting workout plans accordingly.

Financial Considerations and Planning

Embarking on a career as a personal trainer requires careful financial planning and considerations. While the rewards can be substantial, it’s important to be aware of the various costs associated with becoming a personal trainer.

Here’s a list of potential costs you might encounter along your journey to becoming a certified personal trainer:

  • Educational Costs
  • Continuing Education
  • Workshops and Seminars
  • Liability Insurance
  • Membership Fees/Gym Rent
  • Marketing and Business Expenses
  • Client Management Software
  • Travel and Transportation

Education and Certification

The Importance of Accredited Certification

As a personal trainer, you have a duty of care to yourself and your clients.

Accredited certification is of paramount importance for personal trainers due to its role in validating expertise, building credibility, and upholding professional standards within the fitness industry.

In the event of legal disputes or liability claims, accredited certification acts as evidence that the trainer has met established standards, which can be essential for legal protection.

Choosing the Right Personal Training Course

Selecting the appropriate personal training course is a crucial step in laying the foundation for a successful career as a fitness professional. The decision impacts the quality of your education, the depth of your knowledge, and your readiness to excel in the industry.

Here are some key factors to consider when choosing the right personal training course:

Accreditation and Recognition: Opt for a course offered by a reputable organisation or institution that is recognized and accredited by industry associations. Accreditation ensures that the curriculum meets high standards of education and professionalism. 

Curriculum Content: Review the curriculum to ensure it covers essential and relevant topics. A comprehensive curriculum provides a strong knowledge base.

Course Instructor Qualifications: Investigate the qualifications and experience of the instructors who will be teaching the course.

Practical Application: Look for courses that emphasise practical application of knowledge through case studies, role-playing, and real-world scenarios.

Continuing Education: Investigate whether the course offers opportunities for continuing education, advanced certifications, or specialisation in specific fitness areas.

Our Level 3 Personal Trainer Course covers all of the above. Whichever option you choose, know that a certificate is only your starting point. As a fitness professional, you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you, and nothing compares to day after day of experience in the gym.

Gaining Practical Experience

During your journey to become a Personal Trainer, practical experience plays a pivotal role in honing your skills and preparing you for a successful career in the fitness industry. This section will delve into two essential aspects of practical experience: building a client base and networking within the industry.

Building a Client Base

Gaining practical experience involves working directly with clients and providing personalised programming.This hands-on interaction helps you apply theoretical knowledge to real-life scenarios, develop communication skills, and adapt your strategies to individual needs.

You’ll learn how to motivate clients, monitor their progress, and make necessary adjustments to achieve optimal results.

Networking within the Fitness Industry

Networking is a key component of practical experience. Engaging with other fitness professionals, and industry events allows you to expand your connections, learn from experienced individuals, and stay updated on industry trends.

Networking opens doors to potential job opportunities, partnerships, and valuable mentorship, enriching your understanding of the field.

Marketing Yourself as a Personal Trainer

The importance of marketing extends beyond simply showcasing your skills, it’s about establishing a unique brand, connecting with your target audience, and standing out in a saturated market. 

Marketing is crucial to build trust with your audience, showcase your expertise, visibility, client attraction and expanding reach.

Creating an Effective Personal Brand

Having a strong personal brand as a personal trainer is not just advantageous – it’s essential. Your personal brand goes beyond your qualifications and certifications, it’s the sum of your unique qualities, expertise, and values that set you apart in a crowded field.

A personal brand is crucial for personal trainers to build trust & credibility, client attraction and retention, differentiation, consistency in messaging, education and expertise. 

By conveying your expertise, values and unique approach, you establish a lasting connection with clients and build a reputation that contributes to your long-term success in the fitness industry.

Utilising Social Media and Online Platforms

Building a strong online presence takes time and consistency. It is important to focus on providing value, fostering engagement and staying true to your personal brand. Some marketing strategies you can use utilise on online platforms include:

  • Educational Content
  • Client Testimonials
  • Face to Camera – show your personality!
  • Engage with your audience
  • Collaborations
  • Provide FREE value

Networking Events and Referrals

Networking events and referrals play crucial roles in helping you establish yourself and get your foot in the door in the fitness industry, especially as a personal trainer. These strategies can significantly accelerate your career growth by building valuable connections and gaining the trust of potential clients.

Setting Up Your Personal Training Business

Legal and Licensing Requirements

Qualifications & Training: Personal trainers in the UK are required to hold recognised fitness qualifications. These qualifications could be from reputable organisations like REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals) or CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity). The PFCA Level 3 Personal Training Course is CIMSPA Endorsed.

Insurance: Adequate insurance coverage is essential for personal trainers. Public liability insurance can protect you in case a client suffers an injury during a training session. Professional indemnity insurance can cover legal costs if a client alleges negligence.

Business Structure and Registration: Decide on a suitable business structure, such as a sole trader, partnership, or limited company. Register your business with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes. If you’re operating as a sole trader, you’ll need to register for self-assessment and pay income tax on your earnings.

Data Protection: If you collect and store client data, you must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This involves obtaining consent for data collection, ensuring data security, and providing clients with information about how their data will be used.

Music Licensing: If you play music during your training sessions, you may need a music licence to ensure you have the right to use copyrighted music in a commercial setting.

Premises and Licences: If you plan to operate from a physical location (e.g., a studio or gym), you may need to obtain necessary licences or permits from the local council. Check zoning and other regulations for your specific location.

Cancellation and Refund Policies: Clearly define your cancellation and refund policies in your contracts or terms of service to avoid disputes with clients.

Contracts and Terms of Service: Have clear contracts or terms of service in place for your clients. These should outline the services you offer, pricing, payment terms, cancellation policies, and any other relevant details.

Finding the Right Location

You have a variety of options for work, depending on your skills, preferences, and business goals. Here are some potential avenues you can explore:

Fitness Centres and Gyms: Many personal trainers start their careers working in established fitness centres, gyms, or health clubs as an employed or self-employed member of staff. This provides access to a ready-made client base, facilities, and equipment.

Freelance Personal Trainer: Work independently by offering one-on-one or small group training sessions. You can choose various locations, such as clients’ homes, parks, or rented studio spaces.

Gym Owner: You can open your own gym or studio. This offers more control over your business, branding, and training approach. We do not recommend this until you have at least a few years of skin in the game! 

Online Coaching: Provide personalised training and coaching services to clients remotely through online platforms.

Special Populations: Focus on training specific populations such as seniors, pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, or post-rehabilitation clients.

Developing Client Focused Training Programs

Every individual is unique, with distinct goals, abilities, and circumstances. Cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all approaches often fall short in addressing the specific needs and aspirations of each client. This is why your onboarding is so important to understand the needs, wants and goals of your client.

Following a similar structure with your clients is common however adaptations will need to be made individually to meet your clients where they are at.

Customising Workouts for Individual Goals

Based on the assessment and goals, personal trainers design programmes that are tailored to the individual. This includes exercise selection and progression, frequency and duration.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching

While not a registered dietitian, personal trainers may provide basic nutritional guidelines that align with the client’s goals. Emphasise balanced nutrition, hydration, and making healthier food choices.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Plans

Regularly assess the client’s progress and adjust the programme as needed. This could involve modifying exercises, increasing intensity, or introducing new challenges.

Client Communication and Relationship Building

Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are crucial for personal trainers because they play a pivotal role in building strong client relationships, ensuring clear understanding, and achieving successful outcomes. A PT’s ability to listen, explain, motivate, and guide through clear and respectful communication is pivotal in helping clients achieve their fitness goals while fostering a positive and collaborative training experience.

Building Trust and Motivation

Building trust ensures that clients feel safe, understood, and supported, while motivation fuels their commitment, determination, and enthusiasm throughout their fitness journey. Together, these elements create an environment where clients can achieve their goals, maintain their progress, and experience a positive transformation in their health and well-being.

Handling Challenges and Client Feedback

Challenges and feedback provide valuable opportunities for growth, improvement, and enhancing the client-coach relationship. By addressing challenges and integrating client feedback, you can refine your skills, strengthen client relationships, and provide a more effective and enjoyable experience.

Career Growth and Specialisation

Becoming a personal trainer should be seen as an ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth. It’s not just about ticking certification boxes; it’s about continually expanding one’s knowledge base, refining skills, and adapting to the evolving needs of clients and the industry.

Embracing this mindset ensures that clients receive the best possible service and that personal trainers experience a rewarding and fulfilling career trajectory.

Exploring Specialisation Areas (e.g., FFC, Sports Specific Performance)

Below you will see what we believe a successful career in the fitness industry looks like. Being able to see the bigger picture creates awareness and understanding around roughly what you should know and also gives you visibility of what’s still to come.

Continuous Learning and Professional Development

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)  ensures that coaches’ knowledge remains relevant, their skills stay sharp, and their ability to provide exceptional service to clients remains at the forefront of their business.

Scaling Your Personal Training Business

Scaling a personal training business involves expanding its reach, increasing revenue, and potentially serving a larger client base. To scale your personal training business you could offer online programming, open up a facility and hire additional trainers to join your team.


Becoming a personal trainer is a highly rewarding and enjoyable career choice, but it’s important to recognise that success in this field requires significant hard work and dedication. Depending on the employment route you decide to take, if you choose to be a freelance PT you’ll need to invest long hours and considerable effort to establish yourself and build a strong foundation.

Your L3 PT is an important first step in your career, but it’s just the beginning of your journey. 

It’s important to remember to always remain a humble student.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is personal training a stable career choice?

Personal training is a stable career choice for individuals who are passionate about fitness, enjoy helping others, and are committed to continuous learning and professional development.

It’s worth noting that the fitness industry can be competitive, and success can depend on factors like location, specialisation, and marketing efforts.

Do I need to be in top physical shape to be a personal trainer?

As a Personal Trainer it is important that you are healthy, fit, and capable of carrying out your duties as a PT effectively.

Ultimately, personal training is about helping clients achieve their health and fitness goals, and this can be done effectively by trainers with a range of physical abilities. Focus on your knowledge, skills, and dedication to providing excellent service, and your clients will value you for the results you help them achieve.

How much can I earn as a personal trainer?

The earning potential of a personal trainer can vary widely depending on several factors, including location, experience, specialisation, and business model. A personal trainer’s self-employed hourly rate generally ranges from £40-£150 an hour. For employed trainers, salaries range from 18k-50k depending on experience and seniority. 

It’s important to have a clear understanding of expenses associated with being a personal trainer, such as certification costs, liability insurance, gym fees (if applicable), and marketing expenses.

What certification do I need to become a personal trainer?

Your first step into the industry starts with your L2 & L3 Personal Training Certification

How do I transition from my current career to personal training?

Transitioning from your current career to a career in personal training involves careful planning and preparation. Here are steps you can take to make a successful transition:

Self – Assessment:

Evaluate your passion and interest in fitness. Consider why you want to become a personal trainer.

Research and Education:

Research the industry including certifications, job prospectus and earning potential.

Enrol in a reputable certification from a recognised organisation. This will provide you with the knowledge and credentials needed to work as a personal trainer.

Gain Practical Experience:

Consider volunteering or interning at a gym, fitness centre, or with an experienced personal trainer. This hands-on experience will help you apply what you’ve learned in your certification.

Seek Mentorship Opportunities:

Mentorship is a good and practical way to get hands-on experience and advice from professionals working in the industry. 

Develop a Professional Network:

Connect with other professionals in the fitness industry. Attend fitness conferences, workshops, and events to build relationships and learn from experienced coaches.

Build your brand

You need a solid online presence if you want to become a personal trainer because your prospective clients need to be aware of your services.

With a social media presence and a professional website, you can establish yourself in no time as an authority in the industry. You must also be consistent when building your brand, whether creating blog posts or video content to attract your target audience.

Invest In Your Education:

You must invest in your education to transition seamlessly to becoming a personal trainer. Your first step is to gain your Level 3 Personal Training Qualification. Following this you should attend regular seminars and continue your CPD through courses like the PFCA Functional Fitness Certification (FFC).

FFC blends proven scientific principles with expert coaching and communication skills to transform your knowledge, upgrade your abilities and maximise your impact on clients.

Can I be a personal trainer part-time while keeping my current job?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to work as a personal trainer part-time while keeping your current job. In fact, many individuals choose to start their personal training careers on a part-time basis before transitioning into full-time roles.

Is it better to work for a gym or be an independent personal trainer?

Ultimately, the choice depends on your preferences, financial situation, and career goals. Some trainers start out working for a gym to gain experience and build a client base before transitioning to independent work. Others prefer the stability of working for a gym. It’s a good idea to consider your long-term goals and what you value most in your career before making a decision.

What are the risks and challenges in the personal training industry?

The personal training industry, like any profession, comes with its own set of risks and challenges. Here are some common ones to be aware of:

Client Safety and Injury Prevention

  • Ensuring clients perform exercises with proper form and technique is crucial to prevent injuries. Failing to do so could lead to liability issues.

Liability and Legal Considerations

  • Personal Trainers can face legal challenges if a client is injured during a session. It’s important to have liability insurance and understand legal responsibilities. 

Income Variability

  • Income in personal training can be inconsistent, especially for self-employed trainers. Some months may be more profitable than others.

Client Retention

  • Maintaining a consistent client base can be challenging. Retaining clients requires excellent service, effective communication, and meeting their health and fitness goals.


  • The fitness industry can be highly competitive. Standing out may require specialisation, unique offerings or effective marketing.

Continual Learning and Professional Development

Managing Business Aspects

  • For independent trainers, managing administrative tasks like scheduling, billing, and record-keeping can be time-consuming.

Physically Demanding Work

  • Personal trainers often spend long hours on their feet and may demonstrate exercises multiple times a day, which can be physically demanding.

Work-Life Balance

  • Balancing a personal training career with personal life can be challenging, especially if you work irregular hours or have multiple jobs.