A career as a personal trainer (PT) is all about helping people live a healthy lifestyle. If you’re passionate about fitness and health, being a personal trainer could a rewarding career for you.
What does a personal trainer do?
As a personal trainer, you’ll help clients to achieve their health goals. PT roles are usually based in gyms. Some examples of working with clients might include helping clients who want to lose weight or gain muscle or helping someone with chronic back pain to recover and improve their fitness.
What skills do I need to become a personal trainer?
Some of the skills that make a successful personal trainer include:
- a passion for fitness
- a good understanding of health and fitness
- good customer service skills
- enthusiasm and drive
- a friendly and outgoing personality
A personal trainer needs a sound theoretical knowledge coupled with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. An applied knowledge of nutrition and behaviour change are also very important.
What different routes are there to become a personal trainer?
If you choose to do a degree, you may want to consider a course like sports science. Opt for one that has the CIMSPA
professional standards for gym instructing and personal training built in. CIMPSA is the professional body that regulates personal trainers. This way, when you graduate, you can immediately join CIMSPA and work as a PT instead of doing another, separate qualification.
Taking an apprenticeship
You might be interested in an apprenticeship if you want to gain practical knowledge and a recognised qualification at the same time. You will usually be based in a gym working directly with clients. You won’t be qualified, so this involves shadowing or being supervised by a qualified PT to get real-world experience of what a personal trainer does.
Taking another vocational course
You don’t have to do a degree to become a PT, but you need a Level 2 certificate in Gym Instructing and a Level 3 diploma in Personal Training (these can often be combined into one course). You can also do a Level 4 course, but it isn’t compulsory. Only choose a course that it is CIMPSA approved
. Some courses are in-person, and some are a mix of in-person sessions and online training.
There are other qualifications you can add on if you’re interested in specialising in certain areas. For example:
- Nutrition: Level 3 nutrition is automatically embedded into courses of Level 3 and above. So, everything you need to give nutritional advice (based on Government guidance) is embedded. According to the Association for Nutrition, if you want to write meal plans, you need a degree in nutrition or dietetics.
- Exercise referral: An exercise referral qualification (also referred to as supporting clients with long-term conditions) allows you to work with clients with common medical conditions. GPs won’t refer patients directly to you, but they may refer patients to a gym which runs a referral scheme.
- Other specialist qualifications: There are other qualifications such as ‘low back pain’ or ‘diabetes’ which allow you to work clinically with patients with these conditions.
How can I find out more?
If you want to find out more, you might want to check out the following resources