Hey everybody, and welcome to PT Pioneer.
This is your ultimate career guidance portal for the fitness industry and for fitness professionals.
In this article, I’ll be giving you a definitive step-by-step guide on How To Become A Personal Trainer In The UK
To that end, we will be looking at:
These steps and concepts will help you understand how to make it as a PT in the UK, but first, I’d like you to take this quiz.
This quiz will provide you with personalized insight on which cert is best for you.
And with that said, let’s get right into it!
Step 1: Understanding The British Fitness Market
Having a thorough understanding of the British fitness market will help you know how to maximize the opportunities available.
Check below for detailed information.
First thing’s first, understanding the environment of a professional fitness instructor in the UK.
One thing I feel is necessary in-line with that is understanding the UK as a country.
The UK is actually a small group of unified territories under one sovereign national status.
Kind of like the United States but on a much smaller scale, and instead of states, the UK is comprised of kingdoms.
These kingdoms are England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Each of these four territories has its own distinct geographies, cultures, and socio-economic profile.
The distinct socio-economic profiles of the 4 British territories are what you’ll need to understand to beg to tap into the British fitness industry.
First off, the UK is the world’s 5th largest economy, with the Kindom of England being its main hub.
The UK’s capital London is located here and is one of the most renowned cities in the modern world.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland also contribute to the nation’s status, albeit to a lesser extent.
Now for the fitness industry itself, the UK is one of the titans of the global fitness sector.
According to statistics by runrepeat.com, the UK pulls in around $6.17 billion in gym industry revenue.
This puts it in second place, tied with Germany.
When it comes to the number of gyms, the UK has 7,239 fitness centers as of writing.
That means the UK has the 6th most gyms and fitness centers in the world.
This is great when considering potential employment opportunities.
Some other interesting statistics when it comes to the UK’s fitness industry include:
|Total Gym Members (millions)||10.39||3|
|Gym member penetration rates (% of the population)||15.6||8|
|Members per gym||1435.28||8|
|Annual revenue per gym ($)||$852,357.00||5|
With these statistics in mind, you can tell that the UK has a thriving fitness industry, primed for passionate, determined, and hard-working professionals to capitalize on.
However, for all it’s worth, the UK does face a few challenges.
It has a relatively high obesity prevalence of 28%.
While this is lower than other English-speaking western developed countries such as the US and Australia, it’s still a cause of concern from a health and industry perspective.
The reason it’s an issue from an industry perspective is the fact that public health statistics often correlate with the state of the health and fitness market.
The healthier a population is, the more likely they are to purchase health and fitness goods and services.
With that in mind, it’s fair to assume that the UK could have an even more thriving fitness sector if the obesity problem was alleviated.
Step 2: Get Your Personal Trainer Qualifications
Here, I’ll show you the certifications you need to have to practice as a personal trainer in Britain.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the local fitness market in the UK, the next step is getting your personal training qualification.
On PT Pioneer, the bulk of my discussions around certifications and qualifications have all been based on North America, and specifically the UK.
But as we travel across the planet, we see that different countries have different standards, regulations, and implementations of qualifications in exercise and sports science.
For instance, Australia has a universally standardized set of certifications which are the nationally recognized qualifications you need to work as a PT there.
The UK follows a very similar system.
To qualify and gain authorization to work as a fitness instructor in the UK, you will be required to complete the Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification and the Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification.
These are the nationally recognized qualifications when it comes to instructor courses in the UK.
The level 2 cert allows you to function as a group fitness instructor with accreditation in one of the numerous gyms dotted across the UK.
This, however, doesn’t authorize you to develop and administer fitness programs and work with one on one clients.
For that, you will need to get the Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification.
These certification courses are administered by various providers, which I have covered in detail in a separate article.
All UK-based fitness programs should be accredited by the Registry of Exercise Professionals (REP’S) to allow you to be eligible for work in the industry.
This accreditation awarding body also allows you to join as a registered member.
Besides completing your PT course, other considerations include having your first responder certifications in place and current.
These include your first aid and CPR certifications.
You’ll need these as prerequisites for your personal training courses as well as for insurance purposes.
Speaking of which, insurance is another important consideration.
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Step 3: Register for Insurance and Professional Membership
Come along, let me explain the process of obtaining insurance, the type of insurance, and becoming a member of professional bodies.
Public liability insurance is a very important consideration when conducting services as a PT.
As you can imagine, physical exercise presents a set of risks.
Injury and medical complications can easily arise due to or during training, and when such incidences occur, you will want some peace of mind.
That’s why as an early consideration, you should apply for insurance.
Insurance can be obtained through various providers of public and professional indemnity cover.
One quick way to get the most comprehensive and industry-relevant cover is to sign up as a member of the National Register of Personal Trainers or NRPT.
This insurance covers incidences that are very specific to the job of personal training, including training accidents resultant to combat sports training.
You’ll also have access to medical cover, equipment cover, and income protection.
Aside from the insurance access, joining the NRPT places you in a directory of other fitness professionals, allowing for prospective clients to have direct access to your profile.
This gives you the benefit of cutting out some of the admin that comes with having to promote your services to prospective clients.
Other benefits of NRPT membership include:
- Exposure to 40,000+ searches
- The unique online profile which you can modify to fit your current brand image
- Access to marketing resources
- Offers and promotions
- An easy to navigate user dashboard
- Deals and discounts with gym equipment and sporting goods suppliers.
Becoming a member of the NRPT isn’t mandatory, but for only £110/year, it’s not a bad deal for what you’re getting.
Another governing organization you can join is the Registry of Exercise Professionals, or REP’s, which I mentioned earlier as the accrediting commission behind UK fitness certifications.
REPs, in association with CIMSPA is pretty similar to NRPT in that it offers its members insurance, educational resources, and exposure through a PT directory.
Also not mandatory but highly recommended, REPs/CIMSPA is a register of exercise professionals, and it only costs £30/year to register.
Step 4: Determine your Salary and Income Potential
Below, you’ll learn how much you can earn as a certified personal trainer.
As with any job or career path, you’ll want to go in knowing how much you stand to make.
Being a personal trainer can indeed be a lucrative venture, but as I’ll explain later, where you are is an important factor.
In this case, how does being a PT in the UK bode for your pockets?
Well, according to statistics from glassdoor.com, the average UK-based PT earns roughly £30,627 / year, which is equivalent to about $43k.
This is for level 3 certified instructors, while level 2 instructors earn an average of £17,579, the rough equivalent of $25k.
When compared to US personal trainer salary figures, the UK pales in comparison.
For example, in the US, PTs earn an average of around $61k per year.
But as I mentioned earlier, your location is one of many pivotal variables.
Location influences the cost of living, which is what ultimately gives your income value.
No matter how much you earn, it’s only worth how much you’ll need to spend.
When comparing PT salaries across the pond, while the UK has a lower figure, it is also a cheaper part of the world to live in when compared to its former colony, the US.
According to Investopedia, the UK is 0.49% cheaper than the US overall and is more than 22% cheaper when it comes to housing.
Even when looking at London and New York, arguably two of the most renowned cities in the world, London is the cheaper one of these mega metropolises.
It’s also the city where you’ll earn the most as a PT, with an average annual salary figure of £32,500.00 ($46k), higher than the national average.
Other factors that affect salary include your qualifications, of course.
Qualifications and Personal Trainer Courses
While Level 3 is the only recognized qualification to be a self-employed, fully-fledged certified personal trainer in the UK, to truly set yourself apart from the crowd means leveling up your credentials.
When you specialize in unique and specific fields within fitness, you will be able to diversify your opportunities in fitness instructing, and thus your revenue streams.
This means working with special populations such as:
- youth training
- training people with chronic conditions
- training seniors and the elderly
- training high-performance athletes
I’ll go more into specializations in special populations’ personal fitness training in another article, but for now, it’s good to bear in mind that your qualifications will have a profound impact on your professional development and ability to access new opportunities.
You can also look at specializing in different disciplines such as yoga, pilates, kettlebells, and strength & conditioning.
One last thing I wanted to discuss when it comes to optimizing your salary potential is experience.
Unlike the other factors I’ve discussed, there really isn’t any way to shortcut your level of experience.
It simply takes time, and the quickest way to build your experience is just by staying in the game.
Cultivating a good reputation with a strong track record of reputable service is how you can make your years in the field truly work for you.
Experience isn’t just about the development and cultivation of skills, and it’s also about credibility.
Simply being known as someone with loads of experience is sometimes enough to guaranteed a deal.
It’s a preselective indicator of trustworthiness, reliability, and capability.
Step 5: Time to Get A Job
In this segment, you’ll discover how to get employed in the top gyms in Britain.
Now that you are qualified and have a good idea of what the market looks like, as well as your income potential, it’s time to go on the hunt for employment.
As a qualified PT, your ultimate goal is probably to set up your own business and create a brand and niche services around that.
While this should be your end game, you also want to build off a stable foundation.
That’s why I advise full-time or even part-time employment at a health club to start things off.
That way, you’ll have a good base to carry you through the initial phases of your career.
Being employed allows you the benefit of a fixed guaranteed income along with numerous employment benefits, as you can imagine.
It’s also a good way to learn the ropes in terms of accessing and working with clients, learning the necessary protocols and methodologies when it comes to physical activity, and building a solid reputation, and understanding different fitness goals.
Jobs in this regard would come in the form of working at gyms or fitness clubs, working in hospitality at resorts, hotels, or cruise liners, or even working with organizations such as schools and colleges.
Your ideal scenario would be working in a facility run by one of the major commercial gym franchises in the UK.
Some of the top gyms in the UK include:
- David Lloyd
- Virgin Active
- Pure Gym
- The Great Outdoor Gym Company
Many of these gyms will have landing pages or recruitment portals on their websites which you can follow up on and apply for an interview.
You could also just walk into your nearest center and inquire about openings.
That way, you can get a hands-on idea of the work environment and what would be required of you as a trainer.
Another option is through membership with REPs or NRPT, which I’ve covered previously in this article.
Aside from the insurance and continued education services, these organizations also create a directory of personal trainers with customizable profiles allowing you to put your best foot forward.
There are also loads of recruitment portals and job platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
With all that said, most Personal Trainers are indeed self-employed, so what’s the best way to go about it?
Well, considering you have your business model and branding ready to roll, your main responsibility is getting new clients.
Since you won’t have exposure to the influx of traffic you’d experience working from a gym; your ability to secure new clients will fall squarely on your ability to market and sell effectively.
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I mentioned having your PT profile on a directory as a way of putting yourself out there.
Just don’t rely on directories in order to get work. Search queries for PTs aren’t amazing, and it’s best to use directories as an added resource to a robust client procurement strategy.
Social media is another great way to engage with client prospects in a way that actually excites them towards buying your services.
If done correctly, social media can be your primary, if not the sole, method of acquiring new clients.
Another powerful way to bring in and convert more prospects is through word-of-mouth and reviews marketing.
People are very susceptible to adopting goods and services that have been used by others with positive outcomes.
Having a review platform that is easy to access and read allows consumers to cut out most of the decision anxiety that many people face when making purchase choices.
This is a principle called preselection bias and basically works in two ways.
The first way is that by engaging with products that have already been tried and tested by other members of the general population, clients have the immediate assurance of your effectiveness and reliability as a PT.
The second way is through aspirational marketing. When something seems cool and trendy, such as your well-reviewed services, others will be more likely to buy in so as to experience the same level of premium aspiration as those before.
Gaining clients in this way is even further optimized through word of mouth and referrals.
Referrals cut straight to the point since online reviews can leave themselves open to a degree of scrutiny.
Online reviews can easily be fabricated, and many people are aware of this, but the words of a trusted individual are typically seen as authentic.
Online Coaching in the UK
Online coaching has taken off over the last decade and is steadily becoming a dominant revenue option for many industries, including fitness.
As a fitness instructor in modern times, having an online component to your business is essential to the growth of your personal trainer career.
Most people are glued to some sort of digital, online device, mainly a smartphone.
Many services which were traditionally real-world engagements are now significantly online such as shopping, transport, and even accommodation.
In the same regard, you should have your Personal Training business angled towards an online market.
Your marketing, sales, and delivery will do well online, and as an online PT, you open up so many options in terms of service offerings and revenue channels.
The typical tasks you would conduct as an online fitness instructor include:
- Assessment of new clients
- Custom workout program development and delivery
- Virtual coaching via live remote video interfaces (Teams, Zoom, Skype)
- Telephonic or text-based consultation, follow-ups, and feedback sessions.
Working online also allows you to manage your client profiles more efficiently, owing to the numerous client relationship management tools on offer or CRMs.
Such tools allow you to catalog, customize and automate many of the tasks you would have to conduct with real-world clients.
Some of my most recommended CRM tools for personal trainers include:
- My PT Hub
- Nudge Coach
- PT Distinction
- True Coach
- PT Minder
All of these come with various features and pricing packages, so it’s best to sit down and evaluate which one would be the best for you.
Gains are made in the kitchen, as the old adage goes.
This is true from a client’s perspective because while exercise is the key to health and fitness, nutrition is the door.
This notion is also true from your perspective as a coach and trainer.
That’s because the results that your clients will achieve through a correct nutritional approach will speak volumes for the quality and reliability of your services.
To that, I suggest having a significant focus on nutrition in your business model as a PT in the UK.
As mentioned earlier, the UK does have an obesity rate that’s less than ideal, so in order to have a stand-out PT brand, you’ll want your clients to experience outstanding results, achievable by combining good exercise with good nutrition.
There you have it, all the meaningful tips you need to make your personal training career successful in the UK.
The UK has one of the most promising fitness markets in the world, with revenue statistics and opportunities that make being a PT a favorable venture.
This is probably the most in-depth guide on becoming a personal trainer in the UK you will come across, but if you have any lingering questions or suggestions, please drop them in the comment section or check out the FAQs below.