Maybe you live for those post-workout endorphin highs. And maybe the mere thought of taking a 9-to-5 desk job, surrounded by cubicle walls and staple guns, is enough to make you cringe.
Whatever your story is, there’s one reason you’re here right now: you want to be a personal trainer – and you need information.
Fortunately, the fitness industry is one of the fastest-growing job sectors out there. Obesity is skyrocketing. Belts are tightening. Baby boomers want to shape up and live longer. Budget-crunched schools are nixing PE programs, leaving parents desperate for ways to keep their children slim.
There’s an ever-present and ever-growing need for fitness professionals – and the demand will only rise as UK’s chubby kids turn into fat, sedentary adults.
So it’s no surprise that the ONS lists “fitness trainer” as one of the top 100 jobs with the most openings. Government surveys estimate that 16 million people in the UK want to get in shape with an exercise program – and you better believe that most of them won’t have the motivation to do it alone.
Sure, the recession is denting wallets all across the country. But no matter how far down the economy plunges, there’s one thing people won’t stop spending money on: their health.
Personal training is still a tricky business, though. Getting the job you want and the salary you deserve requires more than passion, more than patience, more than sheer luck.
You need to understand the infrastructure of the industry.
The jobs are out there, no doubt. But thousands of other fitness instructors are already lining up to fill them. I’m here to give you the industry lowdown – everything you need to know, from start to finish, about working as a personal trainer.
Personal Trainer Jobs
157,000. That’s the number of fitness professionals expected to be employed by 2019 – in the UK alone. The thousands of personal trainers included in this number will be working in athletic clubs, in spas, at universities, at resorts, in private homes, and even on cruise ships, training everyone from pregnant moms to elite athletes.
And that’s the beauty of this industry. For personal trainers, the variety of clients to train and places to work is nearly limitless. The jobs aren’t just growing in quantity; they’re also growing in diversity.
Despite the huge array of personal trainer jobs out there, they all fit into two main categories:
- Self-made jobs.
Most trainers start their career in category #1, within the mirrored walls of a health club or athletic center – and for good reason. Exercise facilities have a consistent need for on-site fitness professionals. And for personal trainers, that means job openings galore. A way to gain experience. A chance to learn the ropes. An opportunity to network, sharpen their skills, and earn some loyal clients.
Some professional trainers spend their entire careers working for fitness centers and other corporations. Others take a noble leap into the world of self-employment – at which point they either spiral into bankruptcy or start reeling in the big bucks. The successful ones know linear income will never make them rich, so they start leveraging their time and build a passive income.
Self-made personal training jobs typically have one thing in common: they’re all about niches. These jobs prosper specifically because they target a narrow group – allowing trainers to gain specialized knowledge and certifications, set themselves apart from competitors, and give first-class service to a select group of clients.
Sometimes, these niche jobs serve a certain population group,
new moms struggling to lose baby weight
Other times, the niche takes the form of a specific fitness goal, including:
sport training or cross-training
Although independent trainers have more responsibilities than company-employed trainers – especially when it comes to marketing – they also have higher earning potential and more control of their careers.
Personal Trainer Salaries
It’s the million dollar question: how much will you get paid to motivate, educate, tolerate, slim down, or muscle up an endless chain of sweaty clients?
The answer is, “it depends.”
Say you’ve just earned your first personal trainer certification, have zero experience, live in slough, and are sniffing out a job at a dinky athletic center in town. Don’t expect an impressive income. Between £10 and £15 per hour is a reasonable wage, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be working full time.
But let’s say you have a few years of experience under your belt. Your wall is cluttered with degrees and certificates. You live in a densely-populated urban area, and you work for yourself. An income of £150 to £200 per hour might be well within reach.
The reality is that personal trainer salaries span a massive spectrum – starting at minimum wage and extending well into the six-figure territory. According to the office of national statistics (ONS) the average salary for a full-time personal trainer is £43,000 – or about £35 per hour. That’s lumping together the earnings of both club-employed and self-employed workers.
But depending on your skills, experience, certifications, education, marketing abilities, niche, geographic region, and a host of other factors, this figure could easily be either doubled or cut in half. Got a college degree? More money in the bank. Have multiple or specialized certifications? Cha-ching. Training high-earning executives? They can afford to pad your wallet.
Likewise, different areas of the nation are more lucrative than others. London – not surprisingly – offers a £55,000 per year average salary for personal trainers, more than any other place in the country. Salaries in the south of the UK are generally higher than Eastern or Midwestern regions. And as a rule, big cities – particularly Manchester, London, and Brighton – boast higher earnings for fitness professionals than small towns do.
Of course, the pay scale also slides based on experience and education. According to BBC survey results, a personal trainer with only a high school diploma – and less than a year of experience – has a mean income of £15,000 per year. Yet a trainer with 20 years of experience and a PhD earns an average of £81,000.
Bottom line: if you play your cards right and build up your qualifications, your earning potential will soar. But don’t expect a high salary to drop out of the sky and land in your lap. Most trainers start at the bottom of the food chain.
Personal Trainer Courses
Forget salaries for a minute. You won’t be making a dime unless you have the right education and certifications.
Make no mistake: there are no regulations about who can declare themselves a personal trainer.
If you wanted, you could dress your cat up in spandex and try to land him a job at 24 Hour Fitness. But when it comes to gaining credibility, most employers – as well as clients – expect you to have some sort of formal training to prove you’re qualified.
That’s where courses and certifications come into play. Maybe you’re already a fitness whiz, but completing a high-quality personal trainer program lets you prove it to the world. Classes and workshops culminating in a certification equip you with the depth and breadth of knowledge you need to be a good trainer. And once you’re certified, you open the door to a whole world of job opportunities.
Of course, not all certification programs are created equal. Some take place in person, some are online, some include workshops, some require a degree or previous education, and some charge you an arm and a leg for a credential no one in the fitness world will take seriously.
You’ll need to choose a personal trainer course you’re qualified to take, teaches the skills you need, and has a spotless reputation to boot. Accredited organizations are at the top of the totem pole. And the following places offer programs and certifications that are both popular and well-respected.
Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing – Gym
Level 2 Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction
Level 2 Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness
Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training
Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training
Don’t assume the most expensive programs are the best, but also don’t be afraid to shell out the money for the right certification. It will more than pay for itself in the end.
And when it comes to certifications, more is better. One degree on the wall might land you a job, but completing specialized courses – especially ones relevant to a niche – could be your ticket to a higher salary and greater respect within the industry.
Personal Training Business
If you want to succeed as a personal trainer, “business” is one word you should learn to love.
Education and certifications are only half the story. You also need to understand the mechanics of marketing, how to pick up prospects, and ways to gain the edge over your competition. Being qualified and competent is critical, but the lifeblood of any personal training business is clients – and developing strategies to hook and retain them is key.
And that means rolling up your sleeves and learning some business tricks.
- Study up on marketing.
Sure, you already know you’re a phenomenal trainer – but unless you spread the word, no one else will have a clue. Fortunately, good marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s a matter of choosing strategies that are powerful, cost effective, reach your target audience, and convince prospects they need your services.
Educate yourself on the expense and efficiency of different marketing avenues: newspaper ads, blogs, newsletters, mail-outs, radio commercials, flyers. Scour Google for marketing tips. Learn how to promote yourself. Exhaust your free resources and use the pricey ones wisely. Every hour you spend studying marketing will pay off in clients and income.
2. Learn to turn your clients into lifelong customers.
Even if you round up plenty of prospects, you need to make sure they’ll keep coming back. Develop client retention strategies by giving your customers exactly what they want – and then some.
Become more than a personal trainer: promote yourself as a complete health resource. Dispense nutritional information, supplement recommendations, and referrals to complementary fitness professionals like masseuses. The broader your range of expertise, the more useful you are to your clients – and the more reasons they have to trust and rely on you.
And don’t forget to slather on the love. Simple gestures such as birthday cards, gift certificates, and sincere interest in your clients’ lives is enough to make them feel appreciated. And everyone likes feeling appreciated. Go the extra mile to develop personal relationships with the people you train, and your business will blossom.
3. Keep an eye on your competitors.
Staking out your rivals serves two purposes. Knowing what you’re up against helps you design competitive business strategies – but it also provides a way to avoid the mistakes and mimic the successes of others in your field. Grab ideas from fellow trainers, find out what marketing strategies they use, see where they’re finding clients, and research what it is they’re offering. Equipping yourself with this knowledge lets you stay ahead in the industry.
“Job security” might be a joke these days, but personal training is one industry that won’t be tanking any time soon. As long as McDonalds lines the street corners, school lunches are sopping with grease, and sedentary lifestyles are the norm, people will be fat. And as the risks of obesity seep further into the American conscience, the demand for fitness professionals will continue to skyrocket.
So if you want a reliable career, put your fitness passion into action. Get certified. Become business-savvy. Jump into the world of personal trainer jobs.
But there’s one more step.
Sure, you’re not in it for the money – but let’s look at those salary statistics again. £43,000 is what an average trainer with average experience and average qualifications can expect to make. That’s enough to keep you off the streets, but let’s face it: £43,000 isn’t exactly a cushy number. You won’t be taking any exotic vacations if that’s all you’re pulling in.
And then there’s the top tier. Remember that the average income for someone with a PhD and two decades of experience is £81,000. Think about it: getting a PhD means a total of 10 to 12 years of school for most people. That’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of student loans. And 20 years of experience means most of these trainers reach middle age before making that much dough.
So what about these infamous personal trainers who make over a hundred grand per year? They all must have five PhDs and be grandparents, right?
Here’s a secret.
The highest-earning trainers don’t always have stellar qualifications or tons of experience. Some of them are still in their 20s. Some of them never even finished college. And some of them only work a few days per week.
What they know – and what most personal trainers don’t – is how to leverage their income. They know how to keep money pouring in 24/7, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. They know how to double the quantity and frequency of their paychecks, so that a high income doesn’t require slaving away for hours each day.
And it’s not as hard as you may think.
If you’re content with “average,” loading up on certifications and degrees will get you that £43,000 income. Maybe more, once you’re 50. But if you want true success, you can learn the secrets of six-figure earners – which I reveal in my Fitness Trainer Course.