How to become a personal trainer
In case you wondered, a personal trainer is someone who’s earned certification for delivering safe and effective exercise to healthy individuals.
Personal training has become an increasingly popular career over the last ten years with the number of PTs rising from around 15,000 in the UK in 2011 to over 22,000 in 2021. Even with the pandemic forcing fitness establishments to close their doors, the growth in PTs only dropped fractionally. With the rise of social media and online classes, personal trainers and fitness instructors found new ways to deliver training from wherever they were.
The increase in supply of PTs has been in tandem with demand too, as the personal trainer market grew by over £100 million in GDP from £583 million to £684 million over the last decade.
So how could you enter into the ever-changing personal trainer space? There’s a few things to get your head around like the time and money involved in getting certified and the dedication required to build and grow your business.
How do I become a personal trainer?
To become a personal trainer you need to achieve your level 2 fitness instruction certificate and level 3 personal training certificate.
The average cost to get certification in the UK is around £1,500. So you’ll need to factor in the cost when thinking about going from gym enthusiast to full time PT.
The government body that regulates the industry is the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). Some courses are directly registered with the body so this is a good indication of quality.
The intensity of the course is also an important factor. If you have the time and money you can do a full-time course in 4 weeks, which is like a college style classroom environment. If you have a job you need to manage you can also do a 3 month course that takes place over each weekend. Or alternatively you can do a modular online course in your own time with its own assessment at the end.
Some recommended courses are:
- The Fitness Circle
- Study Active
- Careers in Fitness
It’s also possible to specialise in a specific area as part of your course, which can help with business. You could take a module in pilates or HIIT and then go on to become an instructor in the area.
How do I set up a Personal Trainer Business?
Once you’ve gained your certification you have an open licence to start promoting yourself and your business. You could go through a gym and work as a contractor or employee there. Or you could become self-employed and build your marketing on social media.
A quick checklist for doing your own marketing is:
- Decide your USP - Do you focus on a specific workout? What kind of audience do you target?
- Set a budget - If you have a small budget, focus on organic leads
- Research pricing against other similar PTs
- Understand the seasonality of the work
- Create social media pages for your business
- Set up a referral scheme - word of mouth is the most powerful marketing
- Create printed marketing materials to get word around your local area
- Look at creating a landing site that shows who you are and what packages you offer
- Keep branding consistent across all channels to demonstrate your identity
- Set up on My Google Business, this way you’ll appear in searches and on Google Maps when people locally search for things like ‘Gym’ or ‘Personal Trainer’
How much can you earn as a personal trainer?
According to jobsite, Indeed, the average salary for a personal trainer in the UK is £27,778 per year. With more experienced trainers earning around £50,000 and the highest earning just over £100,00 per year.
Salaries can really vary for personal trainers, often because being self-employed means it’s down to you to get business and build a reputation. Entry level salaries tend to be around the £17,000 mark, so it’s worth considering that for the first few months you may not make so much, but it will grow with time.
If you work directly for a gym then starting salaries are usually a bit higher, but then the salary might be fixed for a longer period of time so it can be a while before you see a bigger pay cheque.
How much do personal trainers pay in tax?
As with any income the amount of tax you pay depends on how much you earn. Many personal trainers have multiple sources of income from different gyms or clients. All of it will need to be totted up together and taxed as your total income and you’ll report this in a self assessment tax return.
What you pay to HMRC is your tax bill minus the expenses of running your business. You can read more on how to complete your self-assessment tax return in this Earnr article.
The usual cut off date to complete your self-assessment is the 31st of January if you’re doing it online, and 31st of October if you’re completing the form by post.
You’d be paid through PAYE, meaning the gym or client pays you a salary as an employee. In this case the tax is deducted before you receive the payment. If your entire salary is done through PAYE you don’t need to complete a self assessment tax return.
For self employed PTs:
Your client pays you without deducting tax so it’s down to you (or us if you use the Earnr app) to do this in the form of a self assessment tax return.
For those who are paid both as employees and self-employed:
If you were paid part-time by a gym, say, and then had clients you worked with independently, you’d need to complete a self-assessment on the clients payments, and you’d be taxed on both revenues as one total income.
The tax bands for a PT are the same as any other occupation:
- Tax allowance: 0% of earnings (You earned between £0 - £12,570)
- Basic rate: 20% of earnings (You earned between £12,571 - £50,270)
- Higher rate: 40% of earnings (You earned between £50,271- £150,000)
- Additional rate: 45% of earnings over £150,000
You can read more about tax bands, how they work, and what a personal allowance is in our blog post here.
How can Earnr help?
Earnr allows you to track your incomings and outgoings over the course of the year, and automate your tax return. You mark each payment and each expense as you go so that by the time you get to doing your tax return, we’ll have everything we need to do the process for you. Check Earnr out here.