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how to become a personal trainer with a disability

How to Become a Personal Trainer When You Have a Disability

The question of how to become a personal trainer when you have a disability has been much debated in recent years. With so many conflicting answers out there, we’re here to address the question and tell you that yes, you can become a personal trainer if you have a disability!

This article will cover:

If you’re not yet qualified, OriGym’s industry-leading personal training courses will help you kickstart your career in fitness! You can also browse our full range of courses by downloading our free prospectus here

What Is A Disability?

Before we get into the question of becoming a personal trainer with a disability, let’s clarify what exactly is meant by the term ‘disability’.

According to the 2010 Equality Act, you are disabled if:

“you have a physical or mental impairment that that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”

It’s also important to note that disabilities can be both physical and mental, and some disabilities are more visible than others. For example, the term disabled can also cover learning difficulties such as dyslexia and autism. 

The latest Family Resources Survey found that 19% of the adult population are living with a disability, which is around 14.1 million people. So it’s no wonder that being a personal trainer for disabled people is becoming an increasingly popular career path! 

Disability In The Fitness Industry

The fitness industry is an ever-changing sector in which the subject of disability is becoming increasingly discussed.

Traditionally, the fitness industry has a reputation for being a predominantly able-bodied sector. But huge progress has been made in recent years in terms of people with disabilities engaging in sport. 

But although there has been progress in terms of sport and disability, there is one subject that is still often overlooked: becoming a personal trainer when you have a disability. 

There is a common misconception that a personal trainer has to be able-bodied. Along with the stereotypical personal trainer physique, the personal training industry can be very alienating and exclusive for a person with a disability.

There are also some surprising statistics on employment and disability. Scope found that disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. 

In fact, research carried out by Birmingham University found that disabled people not only exhibit lower levels of physical activity than non-disabled people (17% compared to 39.9%), but also that there are comparatively less disabled people employed in the fitness and leisure industry. This therefore leaves a huge potential gap in the market for personal trainers with disabilities or personal trainers for disabled people in the UK! 

 

Take your Level 3 Personal Training Course with OriGym today!

Enquire today to launch your career in the fitness industry! 

Can I Become A Personal Trainer With A Disability?

These statistics and attitudes about disability and fitness have led many to ask whether it is even possible to become a personal trainer when you have a disability. Many people with disabilities often overlook and even completely discount personal training as a viable career path. 

But we’re here to dispel these misconceptions and tell you that you can become a personal trainer if you have a disability! 

There are many reasons why people may think that they cannot become a personal trainer when they have a disability. For example, if you have a physical disability, you may be put off by the fact that it can hinder you from doing certain exercises. 

However, there are now increasingly more and more variations of exercises to accommodate physical disabilities. For example, you can still do an upper body exercise such as a cable bicep curl if you are in a wheelchair. 

Another thing that may discourage someone from becoming a personal trainer with a disability is that the ‘inclusive fitness’ sector often operates in its own entity, completely separate from the wider fitness industry. This can cause those with disabilities to feel alienated and excluded from the world of fitness.

But in fact, this is becoming less and less the case! There is no longer as much of a separation between ‘disabled’ and ‘non-disabled’ fitness, making it more accessible to become a personal trainer with a disability. 

Furthermore, being a good personal trainer is as much about personal and social skills as it is about physical fitness. A good PT should be able to motivate their clients, form relationships, be organised and ultimately help your client achieve their goals. If you can do this, then you have what it takes to be a personal trainer with a disability!  

Benefits Of Becoming A Personal Trainer With A Disability

Becoming a personal trainer when you have a disability is not just ‘possible’, but there are actually huge benefits and reasons why you may actually have an advantage over able-bodied PTs. 

There is a gap in the market 

As we have discussed, there is a distinct lack of disabled personal trainers compared to non-disabled PTs. This means that you can capitalise on this gap in the market! 

After becoming a personal trainer- even as an able-bodied person, it is always beneficial to find your niche. For example, many PTs take OriGym’s Level 4 Advanced Sports Nutrition qualification which allows them to give nutrition advice to clients. Having extra qualifications under your belt as a PT therefore opens up so many more employment opportunities, as it expands your potential client base. 

The same can be said for being a personal trainer with a disability. Whilst your disability should not define you, it can be used to your advantage to help you reach clients who may be specifically looking for a disabled PT. 

Given that 14.1 million people in the UK live with a disability, you will therefore have 14.1 million more potential clients than PTs who don’t specialise in disabled clients! 

As we have noted, personal training for disabled people is a fairly recently emerging sector, and it is only set to grow even further. So there is certainty longevity in a career as a PT with a disability too!

It is a rewarding career

Aside from exciting career prospects, one of the main benefits of becoming a personal trainer in general is that it is a hugely rewarding career. This is exactly the same for being a personal trainer with a disability- if not more so! 

Whilst you can take on able-bodied clients, most PTs with disabilities train clients who also have disabilities. This means that your clients can relate to you on a personal and social level. You can empathise with what it is like to live with a disability more so than any able-bodied personal trainer. This is a huge benefit that will help you stand out as a personal trainer.

As well as helping your clients on a personal level, you can also help them on a physical level too. As we have said, people with disabilities have been found to do considerably less physical activity than able-bodied people. However, personal training has been shown to make a huge difference to these statistics. 

A study by TG Fitness, who specialise in exercise for people with disabilities, has demonstrated the clear improvements made by their clients before and after training. There was a 550% increase in the average time they were able to complete a plank, and an 83% increase in the number of wall push ups they could complete in thirty seconds.

Helping a client achieve results like this is rewarding not only because you are seeing that individual client improve, but you are helping to improve the wider problem of a lack of equality in the fitness industry! 

How To Become A Personal Trainer With A Disability

So, now that you know that it is a worthwhile, lucrative and rewarding career, let’s outline exactly how you can become a personal trainer with a disability. 

Like all personal trainers in the UK, you will firstly need to complete your Level 2 Gym Instructing Course. This qualifies you to work as a fitness instructor in a gym, leisure centre or fitness facility. 

This will give you a strong foundation of knowledge across a range of topics, including human anatomy, physiology, training and psychology. At OriGym, we also cover practical skills such as health and safety, as well as essential business skills, so you have everything you need to enter the fitness industry. 

Once you’ve completed your Level 2 course, you can then go on to take in your Level 3 Personal Training course. Upon qualifying, you’ll have a deep understanding of human anatomy, fitness and nutrition, and be qualified to deliver one-to-one sessions with clients. 

Here at OriGym, both our Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications can be taken in whichever learning method suits you best. Whether you prefer to learn part or full-time, online or blended, you can tailor your course to your individual learning style and preferences. 

Once you have these baseline qualifications, you are all set to become a personal trainer! However, we recommended looking at the range of additional courses and programs that can help you specialise in becoming a personal trainer with a disability, and/or in being a personal trainer who focuses on clients with disabilities. 

Here at OriGym, we offer a Level 3 GP Referral course, which qualifies you to train clients who have been referred to you by their GP due to a physical injury or illness. You’ll learn how to create programmes for and train clients with specific physical needs and disabilities. 

Although not technically a disability, OriGym also offers courses that qualify you to train clients with specific medical needs. For example, our Level 4 Obesity Control and Weight Management Course allows you to specialise in this particular client base. 

 

Take your Level 3 Personal Training Course with OriGym today!

Enquire today to launch your career in the fitness industry! 

How Can I Find A Job As A Personal Trainer With A Disability?

Once you are qualified, you are now ready to find your dream job as a personal trainer with a disability! 

As a PT, there are a whole host of different employment options open to you. Here is a brief summary of the 3 main routes:

  • Employed by a gym. This is the most common option for newly qualified personal trainers. Although it is not the highest paid of the options, it comes with benefits such as regular hours, a set salary and an existing client base. 
  • Freelance. As a freelance PT, you will have more freedom over your working hours. However, this freedom comes with more responsibility, such as managing your own finances and finding your own personal training clients
  • Self-employed. Similar to being freelance, this option comes with more freedom- but also more responsibility! You will essentially be running your own business, so you will need a strong set of business, financial and marketing skills. Because of this, this option is best for more experienced PTs already established in this fitness industry. 

When you have decided which employment route you want to go down, now it’s time to find the job itself! Online job boards such as Indeed or Glassdoor are a great place to start, and there are even fitness-specific websites such as Leisure Jobs

You may even see job listings in your local gym, or hear about opportunities through word of mouth! Before you start your search, check out our guide to the best gyms to work for as a personal trainer here.

If you take your personal training course with OriGym, our award-winning post-course support will help you with the job hunting process. You’ll have access to our vast network of partner gyms across the UK, as well help refining your CV and preparing for an interview. 

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Things To Consider When Becoming A Personal Trainer With A Disability

Before you launch into a career as a personal trainer with a disability, there are some things to consider. 

#1 Check that the course is accredited 

Before taking the Level 2 Fitness Instructor and Level 3 Personal Training qualifications needed to become a personal trainer, it is vital that you check the credentials of the course provider. 

The main thing you should check for is that it is accredited by CIMSPA, which is the major professional governing body for the sport and physical activity sector in the UK. This simply shows to employers that you have been educated to the highest industry standard. 

Not only does this give you peace of mind that your course is legitimate, but it is also a great thing to have on your personal trainer bio when you come to market yourself. 

Here at OriGym, we know the importance of this, which is why all of our personal training courses are CIMSPA-accredited, so that you can go on to be a personal trainer for disabled clients in confidence. 

#2 Check how the course is delivered

As a PT with a disability, before you enroll in a course to become a personal trainer, you should consider how the course is delivered and how that could impact your learning. 

For example, if you have a physical disability that restricts your movement, you should check whether the course is held in an accessible venue. 

If your movement is limited, you may also want to consider an online learning option. At OriGym, we know that people like to learn in different ways, so we offer a completely online personal training course that is completed through our award-winning E-learning platform over 10 weeks. 

If you have a mental disability or condition, you may want to ask about how the course is delivered too. For example, if you suffer from anxiety, you may prefer to take your course online rather than in-person. OriGym also offers our personal training course with a part-time option, so you can complete the course at a slower pace to suit you.

If you have any questions at all about taking a personal training course with a disability, OriGym’s friendly team of experts are on-hand 7 days a week to answer your queries via phone, chatbox or email. 

#3 Market yourself well 

Knowing how to market yourself well is one of the main personal training skills that you need to be a successful personal trainer. 

You may not have thought it, but being a personal trainer is one of the most important aspects of being a PT- particularly if you have a disability.

As we have said, being a personal trainer when you have a disability means that you can capitalise on a niche market. When advertising your services, you should make sure to really highlight the fact that unlike many personal trainers, you can empathise with disabled clients. Outlining any additional qualifications you may have is the best way to show that you have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a specific client base.  

There are many elements to marketing, which we cover in our complete guide to personal trainer marketing strategies here. But in general, it involves using social media, email campaigns and advertising to reach and attract your target client base. 

In short, being a personal trainer with a disability is your unique selling point! Your personal experience living with your own disability and your empathy towards the difficulties faced by your clients is what will help you stand out amongst your competitors. 

#4 You can still train non-disabled clients too

Many personal trainers with disabilities often limit themselves to training just disabeld clients. But there is nothing stopping you from training able-bodied clients too!

If you feel that you can offer a high level of service to a non-disabled client, then that’s all that matters! After all, you will have undergone the same Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications as every other personal trainer. 

When clients choose a personal trainer, personality, trust and building a rapport are just as important factors as physical qualities. So if you can offer these things, you will still appeal to non-disabled clients.  

Opportunities For Career Progress As A Personal Trainer When You Have A Disability

Once you have qualified as a personal trainer with a disability, there are a whole host of exciting career paths to choose from. 

You could specialise in training clients with a specific disability, making you an even more sought-after and niche personal trainer. If you wanted to specialise in clients with mental health conditions, you could consider going into online personal training for those clients who may not be comfortable visiting a gym. 

Another great career path for a personal trainer with a disability is training disabled professional athletes. Taking a CPD Strength and Conditioning Course is a great way to get into this, as it qualifies you to train athletes and help them reach their goals. It could even lead to training athletes in the paralympics! 

Before you go!

So, we hope that you now feel confident that you can become a personal trainer when you have a disability. As we’ve shown, there are so many benefits to being a disabled personal trainer and a whole range of potential career paths! 

Launch your career as a personal trainer today with OriGym’s personal training courses or check out our Level 3 Exercise Referral course. Enquire today, or download our free course prospectus to find out more about the full range of courses we offer.

References 

Definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010. Gov.uk. 

Family Resources Survey: financial year 2019 to 2020. National Statistics. March 2021.

Disability facts and figures. Scope. 

Disabled people set to guide the fitness industry. University of Birmingham. November 2017. 

Written by Alice Williams

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Alice is a freelance content writer at OriGym. With a first-class degree in French and Linguistics, she loves all things language, fitness and culture. As part of her degree, she spent a year living in France where she worked for a lifestyle blog, gaining professional experience in both translation and content writing. 

When she’s not writing, you can usually find Alice practicing yoga and she hopes to one day become a yoga instructor herself. She also loves running, tennis and cooking up a vegan storm in the kitchen! It was this passion for health and fitness, combined with her love for writing, that brought Alice to OriGym.

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