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How to Become a Personal Trainer or Fitness Instructor

You may also find our pages on 'Finding Work as a Personal Trainer' and 'Typical Rates of Pay for Personal Trainers' helpful.

Becoming a personal trainer or fitness instructor is hugely popular and a great many peoples aspiration - simply sign up to a course, pay your money and bob’s your Uncle – you’re qualified! 

Of course, qualifications don’t equate to a great personal trainer or fitness instructor, you need to have great communication skills, a determination to succeed and, most importantly a passion for fitness. One of our clients attended a personal training course recently and was surprised to notice the amount of people qualifying that really didn't have the right customer focused attitude. When then course instructor was asked ‘why do you let such people qualify’ he answered saying that market forces would dictate who got work.


If you want to be successful as a personal trainer or fitness instructor, you’ll need to play the market to your advantage. Below are a few handy hints to get you started:

Use forums - Forums are great, they are full of experts and are excellent places to ask lots of questions. There can sometimes be some rather unusual characters who believe there is only one way of doing something - their way! Learn from others experiences, forum users are only too happy to explain how they did it.

Get certified – Call some local gyms and find out what they would look for when recruiting. Take a general course, but be careful, it’s not always about choosing the most expensive. There are lots of costly, well marketed and poorly executed courses out there. Find the one you want and then find reviews, use the forums and really investigate if they’re any good.

Work out – Go to the gym, get fit, eat the right food, look the part, smile and be friendly - yes it sounds a bit corny but nobody wants a miserable lazy out of shape personal trainer (that isn't to say their aren't any out there). If just one of these elements is missing you could miss out on potential business. You don’t need to be super ripped, obsessive or forever showing off your double guns but you do need to be confident, friendly and aspirational.

How to find work

For sure you’ll earn more being self employed, you can be your own boss and maximize your earnings. However, if you’re new to fitness it’s certainly worth being employed at your local gym to start with in order to learn the ropes. You can freelance part time after work hours (although try not to steal the local gym’s clients as you may need to work with them in the future) and once you’ve built up some clients you can fully commit yourself to freelance fitness work.

When finding work for yourself, here are some things to think about:

  • Word of mouth – should be your number one source.
  • Life cycles - think about people’s life cycles – when do they want to become fitter, healthier, slimmer? Some groups of people that may be interested in a personal trainer or fitness instructor include brides-to-be, new Mum’s or to help with another pursuit e.g. local sailing club, scuba diving club, cycle club, walking club etc. Think about your target group and make sure you advertise to them with messages they’ll want to hear. Offer to run seminars or taster sessions for free.
  • New mothers – having a baby can be the most wonderful moment in any woman’s life. However, shedding the baby weight after can be a real hurdle and many new Mums will be looking for a personal trainer. Think about where new Mums go (nurseries, baby clubs) and put posters up, run free seminars and network.
  • Work places – put posters up in the canteens, ask local companies to send an email with a special offer / discount to their employees, run free health surgeries at lunchtime.
  • Local advertising – advertising can be very expensive with limited results but if you are going to pay for advertising, make sure it gets in front of your potential customers. Think about where your customers will be looking and what they’ll want to hear.
  • Get a website – people may search for ‘Personal trainer in XXX town’. Don’t get too hung up on building the next Microsoft website, it’s all too easy to spend all your time building a world beating site without having any clients ever see it.
  • Stick a banner on your car – sounds tacky but somebody could see it and call.
  • Help family and friends for free – they’ll tell their friends but make sure you charge them.
  • Freelancing at your local gym – limited hourly rates but they may help you get your foot on the ladder.

There are a hundred and one things you can do to get started, really push yourself and go for it! You’re going to grow your business one client at a time.

Go that extra mile – Just because a client doesn’t sign up for nutritional advice it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them hints or tips. You never know, if you help them and prove yourself with a little advice, they might want to sign up later. 

The faster progress a client makes the more likely they are to keep using you and more importantly they’ll recommend you. You should be looking for at least 50% referral for new customers. Imagine the scenario, you’ve been training a client and his or her friend says ‘wow you look amazing’ you can be almost 100% sure that they will say in a confident and powerful way ‘well I owe it all to XXX they’re my personal trainer, they’re fantastic, here give them a call’.

Move with the trends – whether it’s Atkins or the latest diets make sure you’re up to date and try to know more than your clients. You’re clients will ask if you know about XYZ which the latest celeb or sports supremo is using, make sure you’re always one step ahead.

For more information on finding freelance work click the link and also download our exclusive Guide for Freelancers.

How much will you earn as a personal trainer?

As an employee salaries are from around £12,000 - £20,000 depending upon experience and location plus you’ll usually get 20 days paid leave, free fitness membership, discounts on goods and a few free or heavily discounted memberships for friends and families.

As a freelancer you’ll earn from .... well that really depends on you. You’ll find stories on sites where personal trainers earn £100,000 plus or just £10,000; mostly likely you’ll have a range of clients paying a range of prices.

Easy Accountancy specialises in offering fixed fee accountancy solutions to the self employed and small limited companies. Our fixed fee solutions will take care of all your personal and business taxation needs and you'll never have to worry about any unexpected costs.

As a freelancer or sole trader our all-inclusive accountancy services start at just £60 a month, and include:

  • Unlimited telephone and email access to your accountant
  • Completion of your Self-Assessment Tax Return
  • Advice on Income Tax payments
  • Guidance on National Insurance contributions and PAYE
  • Advice throughout the year on how to manage your business
  • Ongoing proactive tax advice
  • Help dealing with Inland Revenue
  • Free bookkeeping software
  • Updates and reminders of important accounting dates

For more information on how we can help you and your business with your taxation needs or to appoint us as your accountant, please call 01442 275767 or email

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All of our accountants specialise in providing accountancy services to the self-employed, freelancers, sole traders, small to medium sized limited companies and private individuals. All accountants are employees of Easy Accountancy and we never outsource or offshore work.

Our low cost, all-inclusive fixed-fee accountancy service includes unlimited access to your own dedicated accountant throughout the year and covers all your business and personal tax affairs needs.

All our accountancy services include:
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  - Completion of your Self-Assessment tax return
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