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How Hard is it to Become a Personal Trainer? (2020 Update)

how hard is it to become a personal trainer?

Ever wondered; how hard is it to become a personal trainer? 

We don’t blame you. After all, personal training is known for being one of the most rewarding careers out there, and not to mention one of the most profitable. 

From working successfully for a gym to starting your own worldwide online personal training business, anything is possible.

We’re about to delve into how hard it is to get qualified and kick-start your career as a personal trainer, so stick with us… 

OR, if you want to know more about what you could be learning on a Level 3 Personal Trainer course, check our OriGym’s fully accredited qualifications here before you carry on reading!

How hard is a Personal Training course? 

how hard is a personal training course image of female trainer

We’ve got some good news, and some bad news…

The bad news is, we can’t tell you exactly how hard you’ll find a PT qualification. Everyone is different, after all. The good news, however, is that we can tell exactly what the course involves, the resources available to you, and how you can maximise your chances of achieving your goals and entering into your dream career.

Is it worth completing a personal trainer course?

In short, yes. Especially if your ambitions include beginning your own personal training business or working freelance with your own clients.

While a Level 2 Gym Instructor course allows you to work in a range of different health and fitness settings, if you want to be hired as a personal trainer you need to have acquired your Level 3 qualification. 

A PT course will prepare you for personal training with a broad skill set. This includes an in-depth knowledge of physiology, guides telling you how to prepare nutrition plans, and an awareness of how to effectively work with your clients, among other key modules.

But more on that later.

how hard is a level 3 personal trainer course graphic

The added depth is the main reason so many potential students end up delaying, looking for concrete answers as to how hard a PT course is. And, in truth, a PT course is going to be harder than a Level 2 Gym Instructor course. But the rewards are also greater.

Currently, there are over 13,770 register personal trainers working in the UK . This may sound like a lot, and may cause you to wonder whether the competition will be too fierce for you to properly thrive. 

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer

Follow your passion for fitness & start an exciting new career! 

However, when you consider that there are now over 9.7 million fitness members in the UK alone, and that one in seven of us are a member of a gym, the potential for success is going to be worth the work, regardless of how difficult it is.

How do I prepare to do a personal trainer qualification?

If you’re asking how hard a PT course is, then you’re probably eager to learn how you can prepare for the course, right?

As far as prerequisites go, there are only two for a Level 3 qualification:

  • Already completed a Level 2 Gym Instructor qualification
  • Be at least 18 years of age

Aside from those essentials, really it’s down to you making the decision whether personal training is right for you. Which leads us into our next point…

Finding the right course provider 

To keep things short and sweet, here’s a quick list of the most important factors that you should look out for when searching for the right course provider:

  • Location 
  • Study Method 
  • Tutors and Staff Knowledge 
  • Resources 
  • Career support 

As you can imagine, each of these factors are incredibly important. 

Location is the first thing that you should think about, especially since it’s the first major factor that determines whether you’re able to complete a particular course or not. Hand in hand with location comes study method, which also depends on fitting your course around your current lifestyle. 

Some providers offer Online Personal Training courses which enable you to study the majority of your course online. We offer this at OriGym, with the course only requiring you to complete one practical assessment at one of our locations across the UK. 

You may find that either a Part-Time or Online course would be more beneficial to you, especially if you have a busy lifestyle or an existing career.

If you’re asking the question how hard is it to become a personal trainer? because you’re worried about how taking on a course will impact your current schedule, you should definitely consider looking into these options rather than a full-time course! 

While tutors and staff knowledge are equally as important to the previously mentioned factors, you can read more about them in our comparison article for PT courses (below). In terms of wondering how hard is a personal training course?, resources tie more directly into this questions. 

The resources that you will be using to learn the course material could impact hugely on how well you do during your course, and also affect how difficult it is to complete. 

If you want to be provided with high-quality resources that make the process run smoothly, we’d definitely recommend checking out the provider websites and review platforms to get a taste of what they offer (and what their students think of it!). 

graduating personal trainer course image

Last but not least, finding a course provider that also provides you with post-study career support is definitely a bonus. Not only will this give you the reassurance that you need to take the plunge and start studying, it will also make the process of becoming a personal trainer much easier than it would have been otherwise! 

When you ask the question ‘how hard is it to become a personal trainer?’, it’s important to remember that becoming a PT doesn’t only include passing your course. This only gets you halfway there. 

The full-time career as a personal trainer only begins once you’ve either landed a job at a gym or health club, or started your own PT business. Aside from completing your course, this could be the most difficult part, especially if you don’t have much experience in marketing your services! 

This is why it’s a fantastic bonus to find a course that comes with career support as an added extra. We do actually provide a lifetime career support service post-study here at OriGym, so you can rest-assured that you won’t be left to fend for yourself. 

In a nutshell, when asking ‘is it hard to become a personal trainer?’, you should take into account that finding a reputable and helpful course provider that goes above and beyond to help their students certainly makes the process run a lot smoother. 

If you want more info on what a personal training course involves, have a read through our previous posts on personal trainer courses compared for some background information on the industry! 

The key is to be absolutely sure in terms of personal training as a career path. There are the obvious skills that are going to help you along the way, which include:

  • A passion for fitness
  • Motivation 
  • Communication with both clients and potential customers 

 However, these traits are by no means exhaustive.

You will find that your transferable skills from past careers and everyday life are going to help massively, both during the course and in your career afterwards. This may include sales experience, good organisation, and an instinct for business opportunities.

skills learned on a personal trainer course graphic

Just remember, there is no specific type of person exactly suited to the PT course. Everyone brings their own skills and strengths.

The most important thing is that, regardless of your prior knowledge, during the PT course you will receive the materials and support to thrive.

One point that we’d like to make which is semi-related to this point is that personal trainer careers are pretty varied, which is a nice positive for those with interests in specific areas in fitness. 

There is room to develop specific areas of study, particularly with CPD qualifications, making the process of becoming a PT more enjoyable and thus easier in our opinion! 

Supporting our statement is the personal trainer demographics study from Gregory R. Waryasz et al., which states:

The typical programming of a personal trainer is 33% dumbbell/barbell resistance training, 24% cardiovascular endurance exercises, 12% resistance bands, 12% exercise machines, 11% kettlebells, 7% Olympic weightlifting, and 22% other. This information shows that personal trainers use a variety of different techniques with clients.

How does a Level 3 differ from a Level 2?

At Level 2 you are learning the basics, the foundations of what you will need to become a health and fitness professional. Level 3 is all about the details, and is where you hone your expertise!

As an example, at Level 2 you may study broader topics like the importance of healthy eating, whereas at Level 3 you go into detail about macronutrients, micronutrients and exercise nutrition. 

Again, try not to be scared by this added layer of depth. It’s not so much about a PT training course being hard, or harder than a Level 2. It’s about there being new content to learn.

Remember, this content is designed specifically to prepare you for a successful personal training career. And as we will soon discuss, there will be a range of different tutorials and helplines to ensure your success.

What does the Level 3 course comprise of?

Quite a lot, actually.

At OriGym, the PT course is split into four units giving a comprehensive overview of exactly the knowledge you need to become a personal trainer. Here’s the rundown:

  • Unit One: Advanced Anatomy and Physiology for Health and exercise. This will teach you about anatomy in specific relation to exercise and training. It will include aspects of the muscle, respiratory, and circulatory systems, as well as different types of muscle stretches and the principles of fitness in designing an exercise program.

  • Unit Two: Application of nutrition to a physical activity programme. Here, you will learn about nutrition, both in relation to physical activity programs, and in terms of nutrient groups and macronutrients. You will also cover the foundations of setting nutritional goals for your clients.

  • Unit Three: Programming personal training with clients. Evidently, this is more concerned with the personal communication side of a trainer’s job. You will learn about how to effectively collect information about your clients, and how to design specific programs that best match their needs.

  • Unit Four: Delivering personal training sessions and demonstrating leadership skills (it’s pretty self-explanatory!). 
  • This is the practical aspect of the course. How are you going to successfully coach your clients, what will you do with them in a gym setting, and how will you handle their goals and requirements once you have designed their fitness programme.

how hard is a personal trainer course male trainer graphic

As you can see, Level 3 is comprehensive, both in terms of the theoretical knowledge you will acquire and the practical skills you will gain. In order to measure your progress throughout the course, there are a range of different assessments you will take.

Assessments for level three personal training are ALL conducted in person in one of our UK wide training centres. Unit One and Two are assessed through a multiple choice exam with a 70% pass mark. These theory assessments are conducted in exam conditions. But don’t worry, we will support you all the way and this is purely to ensure fairness.

Unit Three and Four are assessed through the completion of our learner achievement portfolio (LAP). This is a handbook you will complete throughout the duration of the course, and is worth 50% of your final Level 3 qualification. What we’re saying here is, don’t neglect it!

Again, to help you out, we run a range of practical training days. These are optional for you to attend and are designed so that you can try out your LAP plans in a real setting, before your final submission.

And breathe...

What support will I receive?

Here’s some more good news… and by some, we mean a lot! 

Many people who ask ‘how hard is to to be a personal trainer?’ think that they have to go through the process alone. 

This is absolutely not the truth.

Here at OriGym, you will gain access to a wide range of different media in order to help you achieve the best possible results. These include support videos, which will tell you where to start, and exactly what you need to do in order to pass each unit.

how hard is a personal trainer course graphic - support

All the resources you will need to complete the course are also provided. These include the Learner Achievement Portfolio (LAP) which can be accessed on a range of different devices, and the Personal Training Manual, which contains all the theory and information you will need to pass our course.

There are also webinars, quizzes, mock papers, and interactive e-learning aids that break down the modules into easily digestible chunks. What you use is completely up to you. We offer so many options so that you can tailor your learning experience as you progress through our course.

On top of all of that, OriGym has a six-day-per-week email and phone tutor support team. If you're struggling with a particular aspect of our course, all you have to do is get in touch and we will guide you through it.

Our pass rates reflect the quality of help and advice we offer our students. OriGym has a 98% pass rate on our Level 3 PT Course.

Rest assured, you’re in good hands.

What happens if I fail?

Don’t panic! We realise exams are stressful. There can be any number of different factors that prevent you from performing your best on the day of your assessment.

At OriGym, we have an unlimited free resit policy. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. And again, if you need it!

How hard is it to be a Personal Trainer post-study?

Once you’ve answered the question of ‘how hard is it to become a Personal Trainer?’ by gaining your fitness qualifications, it’s time to start thinking about what happens next. 

Again, when it comes to this slight variation on the original question; ‘how hard is it to be a Personal Trainer?’, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. 

As people from many different walks of life choose to become personal trainers, this means that they will naturally have different skill sets or pockets of experience to the next person. 

For example, one person may find the transition into a PT career incredibly easy due to prior knowledge of how gyms work, or their previous experience working in a marketing or business environment (this would also help with setting up an online PT business!). 

knowledge gained from a personal trainer course image

However, others who have little experience in these areas yet have transferable skills and knowledge may find the process just as easy in different ways. OR, they may find it difficult due to other commitments or having less support from their course providers. 

As a finishing note, here are some quick-fire tips to make things go as easily as possible for you once you’re getting started as a PT:

#1 - Establish where you want to work 

Whether it’s at a gym, health club, in client’s homes, your own home, online, as a freelance trainer (or multiple!) it's great to have a rough idea of to start with. 

Do your research, and really get a feel for what you think you may enjoy the most. Don’t worry about committing yourself to one avenue, however, as nothing has to be set in stone. 

It will just help to have a starting point and likely save you the confusion of having to try each type of PT work out (unless that’s what you want to do!). 

#2 - Apply to some jobs! 

They’re not going to come rushing to you with job offers out of the blue, unless you’re extremely lucky and have the best LinkedIn profile out there. 

Chances are you’re going to have to put in a moderate amount of work to land a job in a gym or fitness club, especially if it’s in a popular location. 

Essentially all this means is taking your time to write a personal, professional cover letter for each application, and performing relevant research about each company before your interview dates. That’s not so bad!  

Just be patient and don’t be put off by the first sign of rejection, as fitness is a bustling yet competitive industry. If we take a look at some statements from Statista, a leading statistics website, we can see the following:

There are roughly 6.7 thousand health and fitness clubs in the United Kingdom, with approximately 9.7 million members. Only Germany has more health and fitness club members in Europe. 

This speaks volumes when it comes to the question ‘how hard is it to be a personal trainer in the UK?’. There are both pros and cons; it can be easy due to the popularity (as there are plenty of jobs around), yet difficult due to the competition. 

Don’t give up, and remember: finding the right career in fitness takes time! 

#3 - Create a website and relevant social channels 

social media graphic for how hard is a personal trainer course

You should create profiles on social channels, particularly LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc., as this will help to sculpt your brand as a Personal Trainer, especially if you’re thinking of branching out into online training. You can find out more information about that here: https://origympersonaltrainercourses.co.uk/blog/personal-trainer-website-ideas/

You’ll definitely want to set up your own website to advertise your services, regardless of this, as it is incredibly important for becoming successful in the fitness industry in 2020. 

As a PT, your brand is what could make or break your business. Do your research on the most successful personal trainers in the UK, and take note of what they’re doing right when shaping your own brand. Take inspiration from others mixed with your own creativity and individuality, and you can’t go far wrong! 

#4 - Contact your course provider! 

if you’re really struggling, be sure to get in touch with your course provider so that you can gain an insight into how things are going to work now that you’re stepping into a fitness career. 

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If you selected OriGym as your provider, we’ll be more than happy to talk you through the next stages of your career, and to give you some expert advice on how to make it as rewarding and profitable as possible. 

Before you go!

So, you started by asking yourself; how hard is it to become a Personal Trainer? 

You know what you need to start the course. You know what the course involves, and what support you will receive.

Now it’s time to make a decision…

Beginning a Personal Trainer Qualification can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. 

We also recognise that our students don’t study in isolation. They have lives and families aside from their ambitions to become a personal trainer. 

To help with this, we run a comprehensive and flexible programme of options, including full time study, part time study, online courses, and one-to-one tutoring.

Go download our FREE prospectus for more info on what you could be learning!

References:

  1. Waryasz, R. Gregory et al, Personal Trainer Demographics, Current Practice Trends and Common Trainee Injuries. Orthopedic reviews vol. 8,3 6600. 3 Oct (2016). Date accessed: 09/12/19. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066109/

 

Enquire to Become a Personal Trainer

Follow your passion for fitness & start an exciting new career! 





Written by Luke Hughes

CEO and Co-Founder

Luke is the CEO and Co-Founder of OriGym. Holding a first-class degree in Sport and Exercise and an MSc in Sport and Nutrition, he is also qualified as a Level 4 Personal Trainer with various specialist credentials covering the entire spectrum of health, fitness and business. Luke has contributed to a variety of major industry publications, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Metro, Cosmopolitan, The Mirror, The Sun, The Standard and more.