How to Become a Freelance Personal Trainer: Steps to Success

how to become a freelance pt

If you are interested in being your own boss in the fitness industry, you probably want to know how to become a freelance personal trainer. 

There are steps you need to take to become the best in business, so we are here to help you through them all, including:

Of course, your first step is to get qualified, and as you will soon find out, a level 3 diploma in personal training is a great option. For any other routes to a career in the fitness industry, browse through our downloadable course prospectus here.


Getting Qualified as a Freelance Personal Trainer

how to become a freelance personal trainer

First things first, you need to get qualified as a personal trainer before even thinking about operating your own business. It is vital that you take the right approach to gaining your qualifications and avoid fast tracking anything, it takes time!

First, let’s look at the most streamline and stress free way to get qualified.

Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training

Become a freelance personal trainer

Your journey to becoming a freelance personal trainer can start immediately with the help of a personal training diploma. 

This diploma covers both the level 2 certificate in fitness instructing and a level 3 in personal training, the two essential qualifications required to operate as a certified personal trainer.

This is arguably the easiest way to get qualified, and is typically cheaper than buying the level 2 and level 3 courses separately. Within this diploma, you will learn and be examined on areas from Anatomy physiology to applying nutritional Principles. All of the modules cover areas that will make you a well qualified and educated personal trainer. 

This course can take as little as 4 weeks, in fact there are a few different options which is great when trying to fit it in around a job you have while studying. 

Full-time – 4 weeks

Part-time – 8 weeks (average)

Online – 12 weeks (average)

You can take a popular blended learning approach, which provides the hands-on experience of working with a client, while also being able to learn the theory at your own pace if you wish. 

The extensive nature of the course allows you to feel confident in going into the world of work which is extremely important if you’re freelancing and working for yourself as you won’t have the help that an employee typically would have.

Level 2 in Gym instructing & Level 3 Personal Training Course

How to be a freelance personal trainer

Though we would recommend the aforementioned diploma if you’re looking up how to become a freelance personal trainer from scratch, if you’re already working or qualified as a fitness instructor, then you can jump straight to a level 3 course in personal training. 

For example, if you already work as a gym instructor, with the correct level 2 qualification behind you, you would meet the entry requirements for a singular level 3 in personal training course. 

The most important things to remember are that to be a fully qualified personal trainer, you cannot only hold a level 2 gym instructing qualifications. Plus, you won’t be able to enter a level 3 personal training course if you don’t have a level 2 in gym instruction.

Nonetheless, if you’re a gym instructor who wants to progress to personal training and have more freedom in your practice, taking this secondary course in personal training is a great way to level up. 

This course is structured in a way that makes it accessible, just like the diploma. You can choose from:

  • Online learning
  • Full-time 
  • Part-time 

These are perfect for anybody who has a busy schedule, or for those who want to power through and get studying! This is how to get started as a freelance personal trainer and on a journey to freedom within your own business after all. 

These are the two qualifications required in order to operate as a personal trainer in the UK, but there are more courses that can make you better qualified. With this in mind, we will talk a little more about how to advance your career later. 

Where you can Operate as a Freelance Personal Trainer

How to get started as a freelance personal trainer

If you are searching for how to be a freelance personal trainer, you’re probably going to want to know where you can actually operate from and how to pursue such. 

The beauty of this career is that it is so versatile that there are probably more options than you initially think, so let’s see what your career could look like.

Working as a Freelance PT in a Commercial Gym

There are two capacities in which you can work as a freelance personal trainer in a commercial gym. 

Your first option is to work as an employee for the gym for a set number of hours per week in exchange for being able to use their facilities to train your clients. 

The other option is to pay rent to the gym, often a fixed monthly fee, in order to be able to operate as a freelance PT in the facility. Take a look at the slight difference between the two and which kind would suit you best below.

Paid Rent Payments to a Commercial Gym

Allow us to explain how paid rent works with an example from gym giant, PureGym. 

PureGym charges a rent to freelance or self-employed personal trainers in exchange for allowing them to use their facilities to train clients.

how do I become a freelance pt

PureGym do offer the opportunity to be employed as a Fitness Coach part-time, which could see you earn enough to pay your rent, allowing you to keep 100% of your earnings from clients.

This is a great option if you're new to working as a freelance personal trainer and don't have a lot of clients, as it means you don't have to worry about having enough clients to cover rent costs and still make a good income.

For those with an existing client base, PureGym also off the opportunity to pay rent up front monthly, this way avoiding working hours outside of clients and dedicating more time to your freelance PT business.

No matter which you choose, it is always a great opportunity to be representative of a big fitness brand, it will certainly start your business off on the right foot.

Labour Payments to a Commercial Gym

Many UK gyms now require service hours to be worked in order to pay your way in the gym.

This is a good place to start if you’re new to the industry and are trying to start a personal training business with no budget as it grants you the opportunity to make connections and keep 100% of your earnings from clients. 

Just take a look at this job advertisement from Xercise4Less below, newly being re-established as JD Gyms.

Become a personal trainer freelance

As you can see where we have highlighted, they state that you won’t get a bill, but instead require you to work service hours.

This is a great model for anybody who is looking into how to get started as a freelance personal trainer from scratch. Plus there are many benefits to this, it gives you the opportunity to build your clientele while not actually investing anything financially, but your time. 

This gives you the freedom to:

  • Build your branding and business
  • Invest into marketing (e.g business cards, flyers)
  • Network with potential clients in the gym
  • Take classes for the gym and show your skills

These are things that most new business owners don’t have a lot of free time or income to be able to take their time on. However, by having the security of a commercial business behind you, you will build your business with helpful assistance. 

Working as a Freelance PT in a Private Studio

how to be a freelance pt

Similar to that of what we spoke about earlier when it comes to operating out of a commercial gym, you can also work as a freelance in a privately owned studio that is local to your area.

However, this is different to that of a commercial gym as more often than not, you won’t be able to work in the gym in exchange for your rental space. Instead, you’re going to need to pay upfront for a monthly price. 

For example, you may have 1 gym owner, this gym owner may have room in a small gym studio for 5 personal trainers. You could be 1 out of 5 of these personal trainers who all work freelance and simply pay a monthly fee to the owner.

A lot of private gyms will operate in this way, you might just have to get in contact to see if they have the capacity to host you, yet some will advertise it too. Take a look at this advert below for a private gym in Liverpool.

They have highlighted their main offerings, while allowing you to get in touch to view the gym. It is really that simple!

It allows you to keep your profits and have no surprises each month when you know exactly what is going in the bank and what is going out.

Working as a Freelance PT in Outdoor Spaces

how do I become a freelance pt

Another option open to freelance personal trainers is to train people outdoors, weather permitting. 

In the UK, weather can be pretty unpredictable, so it is a good idea to plan in advance. However, there are certain things you need to be aware of before you turn up equipped, as in recent years, there has been a fee associated with training in public parks.

After working outdoors became much more popular during the pandemic, some outdoor based trainers have certainly seen success, one example is a class that takes place in Sefton Park in Liverpool. 

BMF has an extensive class schedule and operates in various parks/ outdoor locations in the UK. It just goes to show how popular this can be, particularly with the inviting nature of a community feel to it.

As well as that, you must have Public Liability Insurance. Infact, some locations according to Insure4Sport even insist that you register with an industry association like CIMSPA. 

Interestingly, one of the main reasons that councils have put the likes of licences in place is to professionalise the fitness industry to avoid any practice of personal trainers that are not qualified nor insured. 

Don’t allow this to put you off operating in public areas like parks, so long as you have an accredited personal training diploma and you've checked with the local council what the rules are for the space you're in and have the appropriate personal trainer insurance.

Working as a Mobile Freelance PT 

Mobile personal training is a great way to maximise on your income and cut down on any outgoings like rent to a gym. 

What is great about mobile personal training as a freelancer is that you have the ability to have full control over your time. You don’t have to work about particular hours as you will be the one in charge. 

Whatsmore, you’re also able to combine pretty much all of the other options we have mentioned previously. You could work your set hours in the gym, usually around 12 hours, and train clients who want to be in the gym then you can work mobile for the other half of your week.

You have so much creative freedom with this approach, just take a look at Mobile Gym Fitness below, who literally bring the gym to your doorstep!

This takes being mobile to a whole new level and there is no reason why you can’t do something just as creative to increase your clientele and maximise your generated income. 

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If you want some more useful resources and advice on getting started in the fitness industry, head over to our articles below:

How Much You can Expect to Earn as a Freelance Personal Trainer

As with any kind of job, the income is subjective to where in the UK you’re located.

For example, if you live in London, your generated income is going to be significantly higher than that of a PT operating in a small town because you are able to justify charging more for your service. 

What you should know is that working for yourself when you become a freelance personal trainer means that you technically have an unlimited generated income, as you don’t have a cap like a salaried role does.

Nonetheless, we can show you an average of what you can expect in correlation to hours worked from freelance job advertisements.

For example, take a look at this advertisement below from a gym in Bristol

Working full time hours in conjunction with this company could see you earning from £20,000 to £50,000 annually. This all relates to the kind of service that you offer, this relating to the amount of experience and qualifications behind you. 

The beauty of opportunities like this is that you can set your own prices, which is why you may see such a big difference in price range when it comes to the salary of a freelance personal trainer. 

Yet on the other hand, you may find yourself earning even more than this annually if you decide you want to open your own gym.

How? Well, when it comes to having your own space, as we mentioned earlier, you can charge rent to other personal trainers. So, not only will you be getting your income from your own clients but rent too. 

Let's take a look at how this could potentially look for your business:

You have 5 clients per day, work 5 days per week & charge £35 per session. 

This equates to £875 per week, and £3,500 per month & £42,000 per year. 

Let’s say you had 5 personal trainers that pay rent to your studio and you ask for £125 per week from each of those.

This is an income of £2,500 per month on top of what you have made from your own clientele. 

This is £6,000 per month, before taxes and paying your own bills for the studio. 

This is a great income and it is a sustainable way to keep you in financial security during your time as a freelance personal trainer, while also being able to increase your income by taking on extra clients or even raising your prices if it is justifiable. 

The point is, the salary of a freelance personal trainer is going to progress as your experience and education progresses and no matter what route you take, there is always a healthy income to be made. 

How to Progress your Career as a Freelance Personal Trainer

Now that you’re aware of the average freelance personal trainer salary in the UK, you may want to know how to progress this further and advance your career prospects.

You’ll be happy to hear that there are many ways of achieving this, including furthering your education to get the edge over your competitors.

Here are some of the routes you could take in order to make you an indispensable freelance personal trainer.

Advancement Courses

Level 4 Personal Training Course

One way you can progress is by taking a level 4 personal training course in order to not only further your education, but also advertise yourself as a step up from the rest. 

The way you can do this is to take courses such as:

These are areas that will not only inform you as a trainer, but allow you to offer additional services while also working freelance. 

For example, you could offer specialist services for those with diabetes or lower back pain in conjunction with their sessions. 

It allows for you to increase prices for these kinds of services and for you to be a well trusted personal trainer for those who suffer from such conditions. It certainly makes you stand out as a freelancer, especially if you’re going to opt for a role in a well known gym, they’re going to hire the most experienced trainers!

Specialising in an Area 

Following on from what we just mentioned about further education being a way to progress, the aforementioned qualifications can allow you to specialise in a particular area of fitness. 

For example, if you’re a personal trainer with a distinct interest in nutrition and how this ultimately works hand in hand with physical activity, you may want to consider specialising in nutrition. 

Below you can see how an experienced personal trainer in London (Fitness4London) offers bother personal training and nutritional coaching.

This is a great way to inform both practices and maximise income while building a reputable career.

Direct Your Attention to a Niche

One of the other ways to become a freelance personal trainer that is going to have a successful business is to direct your attention to the correct people.

You can do this by choosing a niche and being the best in that area. Most people that do this have a strong passion that is going to take them far into this career. 

Nonetheless, if you don’t have a reason you can still find your way during your career or, maybe you’re simply wanting to opt for the highest paying personal training niches.

There are some niches that are pretty obvious, like prenatal care in fitness or aiding those with particular health restraints but, you could even base your audience on social profile. 

For example, you could decide to be a celebrity personal trainer and become the go-to for celebrities which ultimately, gives you the opportunity to raise your prices as you become respected in that social realm. 

For example, a popular personal trainer is Kim Kardashian’s personal trainer, Melissa Alcantara. She started out just like any average person starting their career and has become highly respected in the industry. 

This could certainly be a goal that is at the forefront of your mind, you can see below how much, financially, her time is worth.

She is now successful in her personal training and overall celebrity trainers, as you can see, are earning big money! 

If you want a similar career, check out how you can do this with our article - how to become a celebrity personal trainer.

Your Own Studio

It is pretty obvious that if you’re wanting to become a freelance personal trainer, your career prospects are to be your own boss. What better way to reach that goal than to own your very own studio?

Opening your own studio is a huge step and granted, it won’t be the first step for everybody taking into consideration financials. However, this could come as a secondary step after you have saved up enough money after working in a commercial gym for example. 

Whatever stage you’re at, this is a great way to maximise income and not only become a freelance personal trainer, but also become a boss. 

Below, you can see an example of a suitable space to open up a studio in London. 

This was taken from a website called Realla, that has a library full of UK based spaces to rent. This would be a good place to open up your first studio, as you have to think about certain aspects that would narrow your results.

For example, central locations may be hard to find as you’re going to want a bottom floor, basement or stand alone space like this one due to the noise. 

There 100% is going to be noise in a personal training studio, you’re going to need space, the correct flooring etc. The list goes on but something like this, so long as the location is good for your area will make for a successful space.


What do I do After I’m Qualified? 

After you have obtained your qualification, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options there are for you. However if your ultimate goal is to find out how to become a freelance personal trainer you’re going to want to assess your own situation and find which route is best for you.

What does this mean exactly?

As we mentioned earlier when we spoke about where you can operate as a freelance trainer, you should think about what works out best for you. 

For example, if you’re in a comfortable position so much so that you’re able to open a studio, great! But, this should come with planning and the correct marketing. 

This goes for anybody who is looking to join a gym on a freelance basis too, no matter your starting point, marketing correctly is just as important for any freelancer. Some things you should start off with are:

  • Branding 
  • Online presence
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Taster sessions 

Without getting into too much detail about personal training marketing strategies, which you can find here, we can say that marketing in general is the place to start when you’re qualified. 

Remember that before you go out there into the industry, you should be putting out the best version of yourself out there and the only way to achieve this is to plan beforehand!

Can I Freelance in Other Areas as well as Personal Training?


As we mentioned earlier about progressing your career, further courses and training are there to make you a more valuable professional. 

For example, if you’re primarily a personal trainer, there is no reason why you can't offer sports massage therapy alongside this. In fact, it will probably be much easier to get clients on board when you have already built up the rapport with them in PT sessions.

Freelance is all about having freedom of your own business, so there is no reason why you can’t take advancement courses that will help you increase your income.

Before You Go…

Now that you know what steps you need to take to become a freelance personal trainer, your new career awaits you. 

Don’t forget that if you are looking for the best route to an accredited course, take a diploma in level 3 personal training! For more information on fitness courses and advancement opportunities, browse through our course prospectus here.


Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym!

Enquire about our internationally-recognised Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training.

Written by Kimberley Mitchell


Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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