While you may be familiar with the role of a standard PT, you may not have heard of an NHS personal trainer and how their roles differ from those found in gym facilities.
Whether you're looking for the services of an NHS PT, researching how to become one, or simply exploring what the occupation is, we have all the information you need right here.
From what a NHS personal trainer is, to how to request one - or if that is even an option, we have covered all grounds. But that's not all, if you’re interested in becoming an NHS personal trainer or a GP referral service, we have information on how to get started and the salary to expect.
In this article we will cover:
- What is An NHS Personal Trainer
- What is A GP Referral Personal Trainer?
- What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a GP Referral Personal Trainer?
- NHS Personal Trainer Salary
- NHS Personal Trainer Jobs
- Can You Get A Personal Trainer On The NHS?
- What Fitness Facilities Do The NHS Offer?
Just before we begin, are you interested in a career in the fitness industry? If so, check out our personal training courses on offer here at OriGym.
Alternatively, you can browse a library of our courses in our downloadable prospectus here.
Don’t forget! You can download OriGym’s FREE 16 week home strength training programme below.
Written by Professional S & C Coaches
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Written by Professional S & C Coaches
What is an NHS Personal Trainer?
By technicality, there is currently no such thing as an NHS personal trainer. However, there are similar options available that we will discuss further.
To reflect how this role may appear on the current market, an NHS personal trainer is often referred to as a health trainer - this umbrella term equates to the job description of a lifestyle coach and they typically covers areas such as:
- Helping clients identify negative behaviours that affect their health
- Supporting clients to create a health plan to follow
- Educating clients on health risks
NHS personal trainers or health trainers often work for companies that provide services for the public, including the NHS, local authorities, a charity or in the prison and armed services. So if you’re wondering “can I get a personal trainer on the NHS?” The answer is a little complex!
Typically, it's those who have come from a vulnerable background that have access to a health trainer on the NHS, this does mean however that this is a service that is not available to just anybody; in fact, it’s likely that those who desire to get a health trainer on the NHS will struggle unless they have an understandable justification.
An NHS personal trainer is employed solely by the NHS. The role that is known as a health trainer provides service for the most part to those who are admitted by the NHS and thus, trainers are assigned accordingly within the same location - such as, a mental health facility, we will discuss this with an example a little later!
It is worth noting that open NHS health trainer roles are very irregular due to their specific nature, so a good alternative option is to utilise or become a GP referral personal trainer.
If you’re wondering what route to take when undergoing a personal training course, read our article on government funded personal training courses vs non-funded.
What is A GP Referral Personal Trainer?
In order to give more context to what a NHS personal trainer is, we must discuss GP referral.
GP referral personal training is a GP or health professional referring their patient to a personal trainer, this may be to help the client through controlled exercise after an injury, an on-going health condition, or during rehabilitation of a health issue.
Personal trainer NHS referral routes are likely to be the best option for clients who are seeking out specialist advice or services that are going to increase the patients quality of life through exercise.
For a personal trainer, NHS referral job opportunities are extremely rewarding. They provide the best of both worlds! To be a fully qualified fitness instructor and to obtain the knowledge gained from a level 3 GP referral qualification - just like what we offer here at OriGym.
So, let's find out a little more about what you need to get into the field of GP referral personal training.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Become a GP Referral Personal Trainer?
So what qualifications are mandatory to become a personal trainer for NHS GP referral? This job role is one that comes with heaps of responsibility and reward; so it is for that reason that it is compulsory that anybody who wishes to undertake this job role has the correct qualifications.
First an individual must acquire a level 2 in fitness instructor qualification. This course is for those over 16 and covers the essential knowledge and skills needed to work in a gym environment; it also allows the student to be able to instruct and evaluate 1-2-1 gym programmes.
So, with this knowledge and qualification, the next step is to take a course in exercise referral, here at OriGym we host a level 3 exercise referral course open to those who have completed our, or any, level 2 in fitness/gym instructing course.
With both of these qualifications in hand, the student is industry ready to be a personal trainer for NHS GP referral. Although, it is important to note, that although not all GP referrals require a level 3 as well as the level 2 in fitness instructing and personal training - some do.
Therefore, a good idea is to take on a diploma which combines both the level 2 and 3, allowing you to gain both qualifications at, more often than not, a discounted price. This way, there is more room for opportunity in the industry, and it could help to get the edge over any competition.
Increasing employability for NHS personal trainer jobs is extremely useful and taking any extra training or courses will increase chances of being the chosen candidate. The level 2 and exercise referral courses are both essential as we mentioned, however further courses and CPD courses like what we have on offer here at OriGym can really enhance the chances of being hired.
The good news about the courses OriGym offers, specifically for the GP referral course, is that many are completed online at a pace that suits the student. There are no deadlines or pressure; therefore students, parents, or full-time workers can all take the course around their busy schedules.
So, what are you waiting for! Read all about how to become a personal trainer: the essential 5 step plan to a successful fitness career
NHS Personal Trainer Salary
Due to the specific role of an NHS personal trainer not currently existing on the job market, we are using the available salaries of a health trainer as reference instead to allow you to gain a better understanding of how much you could earn.
The average figure provided from the Humber Teaching NHS foundation trust in 2020 was £18,813 - £20,795, and the City of York Council released the figures of £24,275 - £26,343 in 2020.
As with many professions, location makes a difference between salary brackets, but to compare in regards to an NHS PT we at OriGym covered everything in our article personal trainer salaries.
Here we discussed everything including the average salary of a personal trainer operating in commercial gyms and discovered they sit approximately between - £22,773 and £29,575 depending on success, reputation and location.
Yet, this can be increased with the correct additional qualifications, for instance, by gaining additional qualifications such as the GP referral course this benefits a trainer as it expands their knowledge and experience and can help them venture out into different areas of fitness.
This is particularly useful as NHS personal training jobs can be irregular and lack open vacancies, therefore ensures trainers will always have a fitness avenue. GP Referral courses also allow an individual to work their way up to managerial positions and higher statuses.
In our guide on how to become an exercise referral specialist we discussed how manager positions in exercise referral can offer upto £38,863 a year! This is certainly achievable if time and effort is pumped into creating a successful business and reputation.
It is certainly possible that with the addition of a GP referral course, personal trainers can boost their average salary. It not only allows for a separate income from a specialist service but also positively impacts the knowledge and reputation of the personal trainers business, making their brand more desirable than others in their field.
Moreover, being a GP referral personal trainer can increase client retention, in turn - boosting salary. It is possible for loyal clients to turn into a GP referral client if any problems arise. Likewise, if a client is a GP referral and their rehabilitation is complete, they may find that being consistent with a personal trainer will help their lifestyle.
Find out more about salaries in the fitness industry over at our article: UK fitness instructor salary explained.
NHS Personal Trainer Jobs
To demonstrate what roles are currently active in the industry, we have found a vacancy that was open during our research that highlights the responsibilities of a NHS health trainer, as well as what is expected of them.
There are many responsibilities with this role, including:
- Setting up and running the gym
- Running sports programmes within the unit
- Developing sports and leisure links within the community
- Helping people to work on their fitness and health goals
The job role seeks to find an enthusiastic candidate and particularly somebody that can provide bespoke exercise and fitness programmes. Health trainers of this sort must be confident, as it is different from the average personal training job - it is no longer solely one on one as there is the incorporation of teaching groups.
The ad also makes it clear that the workouts are to be determined by service user need. Therefore, the candidate must be adaptable and able to tailor make workouts to particular needs and limitations.
This is a specialist service, which is typically what is found when NHS personal trainer jobs are searched for. As mentioned in the job description, the successful candidate would be working with individuals detained under the Mental Health Act. Therefore they must be of a high standard and have experience and confidence to thrive in new surroundings.
So, with this salary comes a rewarding role but this is typically the only job that can be found for an NHS personal trainer jobs thus far. However, it may not be this way for long! We will discuss a little later about the possibility of new jobs arising.
For the best resources on how to become or be the best personal trainer, read our articles below:
- How Much Does It Cost to Become a Personal Trainer? (UK)
- How to become a Master Personal Trainer: Definitive Guide (2020)
- What Makes A Good Personal Trainer? 12 Top Traits
Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym!
- Qualify & start earning in just 2 weeks
- Study full-time, part-time or online
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Can you get a Personal Trainer on the NHS?
In the simplest of terms - no.
At the moment, there are no options for clients to access a free personal trainer on the NHS and there is no job role for this either. As we have discussed, there are similar roles for particular centres and clinics but apart from this, the only route is a GP referral job role or if you’re a client, the NHS Strength and Flex exercise plan.
However, not all hope is lost! In March of 2021 a press release discussed a new specialist support system to help those living with obesity to lose weight. It comes as obesity, particularly in the UK, has spiralled out of control with 63% of adults in the country being overweight or living with obesity.
It looks like there could be a chance that NHS personal trainer jobs are going to come into practice, as over £70 million will be invested into managing the obesity crisis. This equates to 700,000 adults up and down the country eligible for access to weight loss support.
The support would be provided from a combination of digital platforms, weight management groups, specialist clinical support, and what we are most interested in - individual coaches. Another £30 million will also fund initiatives in helping those who struggle in maintaining weight, particularly focusing on a better health campaign with a free NHS-12 week weight loss app.
All of these features are said to be put into place for all round family health, hopefully encouraging the innovation of an NHS personal trainer, or what they refer to as individual coaches.
What Fitness Facilities Do The NHS Offer?
As we know, personal trainers are not currently free with the NHS, however there are a number of fitness facilities which are a virtual platform that allows people to get fit for free!
The NHS strength and Flex exercise plan is made up of 5 podcasts, aiming to last for 5 weeks; the podcasts guide a workout and last for 35 minutes. All of the exercises are equipment free - because as you may know gym equipment can be pricey! So, all of the workouts are tailored under the assumption that they will be performed at home or in places like the park for free!
Their plan includes:
- Equipment-free workout
- Easy to follow instructions
- A full body workout
- How-to video clips
- Ability to be performed anywhere, anytime
- Great to be used alongside Couch to 5K
For free, this is a great alternative on offer in place of an NHS personal trainer. It provides many of the features that you could get when hiring an online personal trainer - but without the price tag!
Whatsmore, you can use week 5’s podcast beyond completing the programme, it has been designed to provide a 45-minute full body workout that can be repeated as many times as you like. Think of this service as an online personal trainer, it has a plan for you to work through at your own pace with no pressure. Though it's important to note, the NHS advises participants to contact their GP before beginning the programme if you have any health issues.
Another alternative to an NHS personal trainer is local council leisure centres. Though you cannot get a gym membership or a personal trainer on the NHS at the moment, there are many leisure centres in local councils that often offer reduced prices due to them being a non-for-profit organisation. So look out for concession memberships if you’re on particular benefits, it's worth seeking out these memberships first before heading for a commercial gym.
If you want to know what you’re in for when becoming a personal trainer, find our article on a day in the life of a personal trainer.
Before You Go!
With the help of this guide, we hope you now have enough information to weigh up the pros and cons of a career in either GP referral of NHS health training.
If you had already decided this is the career for you but needed insight into what skills and qualities employers were looking for, then we hope we have answered your questions also.
One more thing, if you’re wondering how to get started in the industry, check out our personal training courses that we offer here at OriGym or, you can browse through all of the courses we provide in our downloadable prospectus.
Download Your FREE 16 Week Home Strength Training Programme
Written by Professional S & C Coaches