Being a personal trainer has its pros and cons, and it’s hugely important to understand both sides before committing to a career in the fitness industry.
With this guide, we’ll break down exactly what it’s like being a personal trainer, how you can maximise what you get out of the job, and what you need to be aware of.
Your first step, though, is to qualify as a personal trainer. With OriGym’s signature personal training diploma, you’ll go from no prior qualifications to a fully certified PT in as little as 4 weeks.
Before jumping in, feel free to download our latest course prospectus here or below:
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The Pros Of Being A Personal Trainer
While it is crucial to weigh up both the pros and cons of being a personal trainer equally, it’s also incredibly important to focus on the positives the job role can bring.
Ultimately, being a personal trainer is a career that requires passion and enthusiasm about fitness, but that’s not the only reason you could choose this path.
With our next section, we’ll break down the many advantages of being a personal trainer, and how you can make the most of them.
#1 - Multiple Career Paths
One of the best, and perhaps least obvious, pros of being a personal trainer is the flexibility when it comes to career paths.
A huge amount of careers in the fitness industry require you to have a Level 3 personal training qualification, but once you have that, you’re able to diversify what you offer clients, as well as how you spend your time.
Let us explain.
When you achieve your personal training qualification, you’ll have received a Level 3 certificate. This then means you’re able to pursue a Level 4 qualification. These include:
- Level 4 Lower Back Pain Management
- Level 4 Obesity & Weight Management
- Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition
- Level 4 Diabetes Control & Weight Management
Certifications like these mean you’re able to work with special populations, deliver new and exciting sessions, and provide tailored advice to clients.
Check out our video below for a much more detailed insight into all the opportunities that a personal training qualification can bring you.
A Level 3 qualification also acts as a huge advantage when it comes to finding other careers, or augmenting the skills you already have.
For instance, you could choose to combine your existing sports massage therapy certification with a personal training qualification, allowing you to provide treatment as well as rehabilitative programs of exercise.
Or, if you’ve decided to become a running coach, a Level 3 in personal training provides invaluable expertise in delivering tailored plans and monitoring progress.
Ultimately, a Level 3 personal training qualification presents a gateway to a vast range of personal training career options, and allows you to progress in an increasingly competitive field.
#2 - Wide Variety Of Roles
It should come as no surprise that a huge consideration in terms of personal trainer pros and cons is your future working environment, and the variety of roles and responsibilities you’ll be undertaking.
And as a PT, you’ll have a massive advantage over other forms of employment, in that it’s one of the most diverse roles out there.
First, though, there’s a couple of things you need to consider.
The first is that, in any gym-based job, you’ll be working in a hands-on capacity.
That means very little in the way of administrative or clerical work, and more of providing services to your clients, like:
- Delivering sessions
- Planning effective, impactful workouts
- Tailoring routines for specific clients
- Holding consultations with new clients
- Adapting sessions to fit with new and emerging client needs
You’ll be able to put to good use the training you’ll have received through completing your Level 3 qualification, as well as take an active role in your client’s health and wellbeing immediately.
Secondly, you should also consider the kind of clientele you’re looking to attract.
We’ve already touched on the specialist Level 4 courses you can complete, but these can have a profound effect on the tasks you’ll complete in your role.
For instance, if you’ve achieved a certification in Diabetes Control and Weight Management, you’ll understandably be looking to work with those who have that condition, and therefore need specialist training.
#3 - Range Of Environments
In the same way that there’s a large variety of roles that a personal trainer can undertake, there’s also a range of different places where you’ll be able to find work.
When it comes to the pros and cons of being a personal trainer, many wrongly assume that the only place you’re able to work as a PT is in the gym.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Perhaps one of the biggest pros of being a personal trainer is the sheer variety of locations where you’re able to find work.
For instance, you could find work as a personal trainer in:
- Cruise Ships - large scale cruises often offer employment opportunities for personal trainers. Check out our complete guide on how to become a PT on a cruise ship, if you’re looking to set sail.
- Leisure Centres
- Health Clubs - such as David Lloyd’s or Nuffield Health
- Hotels, Resorts & Spas
- Health Care Charities - this may be on a voluntary basis, but offers invaluable experience for those new to the industry
- The Armed Forces
- Large Organisations Or Companies - some businesses provide on-site training for their employees
This is just the tip of the iceberg, too. You’re also able to become your own boss, working in a freelance or self-employed capacity.
Each of these career paths offers its own unique benefits, as well as competitive salaries, working hours, and unique and challenging environments.
#4 - Highly Sociable
When weighing up the pros and cons of being a personal trainer, it’s important to consider the social aspects of the role.
Fortunately, this is an area where personal training really excels - you’re constantly working alongside others, whether that’s clients or other fitness professionals.
You’ll see how they develop and grow, as well as help guide them to achieve their goals and aspirations.
This ultimately means you’ll be able to foster meaningful relationships, and excel in your roles and responsibilities as a personal trainer.
It’s also important to recognise that, by working in close partnership with other fitness professionals and PTs, you’ll be able to learn from industry insiders, and explore new ways of providing top tier service to your clients.
Much of personal training relies on effective and efficient communication, making it one of the more sociable jobs in the industry.
#5 - An Impactful Career
An often overlooked aspect when examining the pros and cons of being a personal trainer is the positive impact you can have on others.
There’s very few careers that offer that same level of pride and fulfillment that personal training can, especially when working with a client (or group of clients) that has struggled in the past to achieve their goals.
As a PT, it can be easy to forget how much of an impact you could potentially have on a client’s lifestyle and overall wellbeing.
Our advice would be to always hold that in mind, especially if you’re doubtful at any point. You’re undoubtedly having a huge impact on multiple clients’ lives.
Look back on past results (we’d recommend tracking these with dedicated personal training software) to remind yourself of where your clients have come from, and where your training and your guidance has gotten them to.
#6 - Unlimited Earning Potential
Perhaps one of the biggest draws of a career in fitness is the ability to earn a significant amount in a role that you’re passionate about.
When it comes to the pros and cons of being a personal trainer, though, your potential earnings are almost unlimited.
Let’s explain in detail.
When you work as a personal trainer in any capacity (working in a gym, as a freelancer, or self-employed), you’re only capped by the amount of clients you choose to work with.
For instance, if you’re earning £30 per hour-long session, and you deliver 25 sessions per week, you’ll be earning around £36,000 per week before tax. And of course, that figure is adaptable - choosing to do more or less will affect those earnings.
Of course, this is dependent on your schedule, and the time you’re available for training, alongside the rest of your duties, like:
- Planning sessions
- Conducting consultations
- Organising your schedule
- Managing client payments
- Any tasks required as part of your role - Usually specific to PTs employed in a gym, but this could include walking the gym floor, enforcing key parts of gym etiquette, and delivering classes
Outside of these obligations, though, you’re able to train as many clients as you feel comfortable doing, while still allowing yourself time to rest, recuperate and adjust your training methods for new clients.
While there’s no “perfect” schedule, we’d strongly recommend taking some time for yourself and your family and social commitments.
If you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of being a personal trainer, check out these similar articles:
- Skills of a Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Guide
- How Long Does It Take To Become A Personal Trainer?
- Should I Become A Personal Trainer?
The Cons Of Being A Personal Trainer
Of course, in the consideration of being a personal trainer pros and cons, there has to be both pros, and cons.
It’s equally important to examine the things about personal training that may not seem as glamorous, or that could be a struggle when you first start.
However, the cons of personal training needn’t put a stop to your ambitions and dreams of becoming a personal trainer.
They should instead be viewed as obstacles and challenges that can be overcome, and that can ultimately shape how you grow and develop as a professional.
#1 - Can Be An Intensive Career
This may be one that won’t come as a surprise, but it’s hugely important to be aware of. Personal training can, and often will, be an intensive career path, for a variety of reasons.
The primary one among these is, obviously, that your role predominantly revolves around, and the delivery of exercise programmes you’ve created.
For most, this won’t be an issue. The likelihood is, if you’ve moved into this career, you’ve at least got a passing interest in fitness.
However, it’s vitally important to recognise that you do need time for yourself, even when your schedule is busy, or you’re planning on increasing your client base.
Not doing so means you’ll risk becoming burnt out, or find yourself lacking the creativity you need to make effective sessions for your clients.
Finding the right balance between a lucrative, busy schedule and enough opportunity to still enjoy time with friends and family is imperative.
It’s also important to reflect on what you’re doing, and the massive, positive impact you have on others.
While personal training does require time and effort, it’s far outweighed by how positively you affect your clients, as well as the money you’ll be earning for doing so.
#2 - Results Can Take Time
While this may seem like an obvious point to you as a personal trainer, this isn’t necessarily something your clients will have in mind when training with you. Clients often want to experience results quickly, which isn’t always possible.
There’s a huge amount of variables - clients train differently, cope with the stresses of everyday life in different ways, and will therefore be more (or less) susceptible to personal training.
Each individual body is different, too, and reacts in different ways to exercise and fitness, especially when it comes to programmes that have been set by a trained professional.
The same intensity training programme may cause one client to shed half a stone in two weeks, and another to see barely any change at all.
Sadly, this can be difficult to explain to clients, especially those who are aiming to achieve their desired results in a short time frame, or ahead of an important event (like weight loss before a wedding, or muscle gain before a competition)
Personal training isn’t just about achieving the qualifications, it’s also about learning to deal with clients, and forge professional relationships that benefit both the client, and yourself.
Communication skills for personal trainers are absolutely essential in that sense - without the ability to communicate effectively, you run the risk of losing clients and revenue.
Here are some of the top tips as to how to deal with difficult clients in the early stages of your personal training career:
- Use Data To Your Advantage - Statistics and data can act as more substantial proof for your clients, especially if they’re feeling disheartened because they’ve not yet seen the results they’re looking for. Telling them their measurements or personal bests are ideal motivators, and serve to provide concrete evidence that your services are working effectively.
- Offer Flexibility - Providing more options for their sessions, as well as different times for when they’re struggling to get there on time, can mean they’re more likely to continue using your services, plus it shows your dedication to their progress.
- Diversify What You Offer - Offering more ways to contact you, as well as new and innovative ways to provide your services, are ideal ways to both bring in new clients, and retain existing ones.
- Provide Additional Value - Providing services that don’t devalue your training, like a free biomechanical analysis or a complementary nutrition plan, can be a great way to ensure that clients stay satisfied.
#3 - Income Can Be Unsteady
When considering being a personal trainer pros and cons, income is often held up as a major pro.
And it’s true. Personal trainers in the right areas, with the right services, and who have marketed themselves in the right way can earn a huge wage, starting at around £30,000.
But the flipside of that is personal trainers can also struggle to make ends meet when first starting out, with things like ground rent, unreliable clients, and competitors taking a significant portion of their earnings.
There is a solution to the unsteady income and benefits that you could experience when you first start your career in personal training, though.
While you’ll be paid a set wage if you’re employed as a personal trainer in a gym, freelancing and self-employment (which is where most PTs fall) ensures you’ve always got the potential to earn more.
Much of this falls down to marketing yourself and your services effectively, and understanding how to set yourself apart from the competition.
Here’s a few tips from industry experts on how to get the best possible start as a PT, and turn this con into one of the pros of being a personal trainer:
- Trial Sessions - Offering potential clients a way to get to know you, and what you could potentially offer them, is an ideal way to entice customers to choose you over others. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to let them get to know you. A key thing to remember here is that a client is paying not just for your services, but also for your time and your company.
- Find Your Niche - While many inexperienced PTs will simply opt for providing services to any and all clients they can, opting for a niche can be a great way to stand out from the crowd. Tailoring your services towards a specific demographic (like couples personal training) sets you apart from the crowd.
- Offering Unique Packages - It can be tempting to place all your clients on a flat rate, or only offer block bookings. Diversifying the amount of sessions you can offer your clients, as well as how you package these, can hugely improve both client retention and attracting new clients. Watch our complete video guide to PT packages here.
Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym!
Being a Personal Trainer Pros and Cons: The Grey Areas
In your research so far, you’ll have likely considered the pros and cons of being a personal trainer in relation to your own experience.
And while there’s undoubtedly aspects that won’t be as appealing, there are other areas that outshine any negatives you might have come across.
However, there’ll be some pros and cons that are more difficult to put your finger on. We call these grey areas.
Grey areas are aspects of personal training that could be construed as both positive and negative, depending on the trainer.
Let’s explore some of these aspects now, and how you can factor these into your comparison of the personal trainer pros and cons.
#1 - Your Working Hours
While this one may seem self-explanatory, it’s often not as clear cut as it seems. Many immediately assume that working less hours is generally a better option than working, and for other industries, that might be true.
However, as we’ve already touched on, personal training isn’t necessarily the same, and for good reasons.
As a personal trainer you need to be flexible. The hours you work are often dictated by the clients you have, their availability, and when they want to train.
Some days may see you working for an extended period of time, whereas others may only have one or two clients interspersed throughout the day.
Ultimately, though, it’s about striking a balance in your schedule that works for both you and your clients. We’ve compiled a few tips to help you establish a good equilibrium between working and finding time for your personal commitments, too.
- Always Have Your Timetable Handy - We can’t stress this enough. Make sure you always have a copy of your schedule with you at all times, so that you can effectively plan and structure your days and weeks to give yourself the time you need. This can be on a smartphone, on your laptop or tablet, or in your dedicated fitness journal.
- Plan In Advance - This is especially important if you’ve got an extended period of time where you’ll be away from the gym, and therefore won’t be available for training sessions. Allow clients time to restructure their own timetables, and make arrangements for while you’re away.
- Structure Your Days - While this may seem like a tedious task, it has far-reaching benefits when it comes to finding the balance between your personal training sessions and your life outside of work. Structuring your days can allow for you to dedicate enough time each day to all of your commitments.
#2 - Responsible For Clients
Now, to most, this could seem like another of the advantages of being a personal trainer. You’re ultimately shaping someone’s life for the better, and that can feel incredible.
However, having that responsibility can also weigh heavy at times, especially if your clients are struggling to progress, or have stagnated in their training.
That’s where you’ll need to utilise the skills you’ve picked up over the course of your training as a PT, and build new sessions and workouts that continue to push your clients, and ensure that they start to see the progress they’re looking for.
You’re also responsible for their safety and wellbeing in a more holistic way, too. Gyms and fitness studios can be dangerous at times, especially when using weights and plates, and you’ll also need to ensure that your clients are kept safe.
While first aid isn’t a requirement for personal trainers, it can go a long way towards reassuring your clients. And having the correct insurance is an absolute must - read more in our total overview of personal trainer insurance.
Having the right coverage, alongside a comprehensive knowledge of creating effective and safe workouts, ensures you’ll be able to provide everything a client needs to achieve their goals.
Before You Go!
When we talk about being a personal trainer pros and cons, it goes without saying that each PT will form their own opinions. Every personal trainer is different, and ultimately, there’s aspects of the fitness industry that appeal to some, but not necessarily to others.
However, with our guide, we’ve explored all the pros and cons of personal training that you should know before diving in. And your next step is to get qualified!
Our personal training diploma takes you from no prior experience to a fully qualified PT in as little as 4 weeks, with expert guidance and a guaranteed interview when you graduate.
Download our FREE prospectus here or below for more information!
Internationally Recognised Qualifications
Download Your FREE Course Prospectus
Internationally Recognised Qualifications
Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer
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