We all know the old adage: if you choose a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life.
For many people, becoming a personal trainer is the answer.Helping your clients to get fitter, healthier and happier and watching them progress before your eyes is an amazing experience.
But if you’re a parent, a carer, or simply have a full-time job, it can be difficult to find the time to get qualified. Most personal training courses require frequent travel to particular gyms to train, and schedules tend not to be flexible enough to work around a busy life.
However, hope isn’t lost – developments in technology mean you can become a personal trainer online without having to change your schedule or travel further than your local gym. You’ll gain exactly the same skills as you would in a regular classroom, and you’ll get the same shiny certificate at the end.
Sound too good to be true? Read on.
- Personal Qualities and Soft Skills
Before you start your journey, it’s important to analyse your own qualities and abilities to make sure personal training is right for you.
You’ll need to be:
- Friendly and approachable
- Tactful and discrete
You should have:
- A good level of personal fitness
- Confidence in a gym environment
- Some knowledge of nutrition and physiology
- Ability to work early mornings (6-9am), evenings (5-9pm) or weekends once you’ve qualified, as many clients will want to schedule their sessions around a job
While you can learn many of the skills needed to be a personal trainer, your personal qualities are unteachable – and they’re what will make you stand out.
- PickYour Course
To work as personal trainer in the UK, you’ll need:
- The Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification
- The Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification
- Membership of REPs, the Register for Exercise Professionals.
Finding the right course for you is important, especially if you’re tight on time. While many courses are partly online, most still require some travel to particular gyms or exam centres.
The leading exceptions are ICS Learn’s new 100% online Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer courses. Learning to be a personal trainer online might seem counter-intuitive, but they’ve made great use of technology to make it work seamlessly.
Instead of travelling to particular locations at set times, you grab a friend and film yourself performing practical assessments at your local gym.You sit written exams from home (and they have fancy e-Proctoring technology to a make sure you don’t cheat – get those notes away!)
Best of all, the qualification you earn is from YMCA Awards, the UK’s leading awarding body, and is identical to the one you’d gain in a classroom.
Voila! You’re a personal trainer, and you did it all at 10pm after the kids went to bed.
(Top Tip: If you’re new to the industry, you can take the Level 2 and 3 Personal Trainer combined course to skip a few modules and save yourself some time.)
- First Aid and Insurance
To work as a personal trainer, you need to have a First Aid award which includes a cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate.
You can buy public liability insurance through REPs once you’ve joined.
- Get Organised
You’ll need to be super-organised to stay on top of your schedule, your clients and their progress. Work out a budget for how much you need to earn per month, then calculate how many clients you need to take on to reach that goal. Self-employed, you can generally earn between £20 and £40 an hour.
Then, create a schedule of when you’re able to work so your clients know when you’re available. A tool like Acuity Scheduling is super-useful for this – you clients can book themselves in, change their appointments and pay online, plus you both get reminders before the appointment to stop no-shows (and your own bad memory!)
You could also use one of the many great apps that are available specifically for personal trainers. Try The Training Notebook,Trainer Fu, or PT Distinction; the latter gives you your own branded app for clients to download.
- Keep Learning
Once you’ve become a personal trainer, your schedule is likely a little more flexible. Make use of the time to continue your professional development.
You could specialise in areas like sports massage, outdoor fitness, or exercise for the obese or less-abled, or take a course in business skills to help you launch your own personal training company. You could also focus on specific clients like new mums, or on specific exercises like kettlebells.
Whatever you choose, having specialised knowledge and a unique selling point can only improve your chances of doing well.
If you’re thinking of becoming a personal trainer, now is the time. More and more people are becoming aware of the importance of health and fitness, and modern online courses are so flexible that you can fit learning around your current job or family commitments.
In exchange for your hard work, you get an incredible pay-off: a chance to do work that you love and change people’s lives.