How To Get Personal Training Work Experience

personal training work experience

Whether you’re still studying or have just recently qualified as a personal trainer, you may be wondering how to get experience as a personal trainer when you are still so new to the industry. 

Well, don’t worry! We’ve got the ultimate guide to getting personal training work experience, covering:

Before we get started, if you’re not already, get qualified in the best way with our Personal Trainer Diploma. Enquire today or download our course prospectus to check out the full range of courses we offer.


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Why Is Gaining Personal Trainer Work Experience Important?

personal training work experience 4

As well as qualifications, work experience is one of the main things you will need if you want to become a personal trainer.

Most people will start gaining personal trainer experience whilst they are studying for their personal trainer course, or just after they qualify before they find a job. 

But why is it so important? Is personal trainer experience needed for a successful career? Here are some of the benefits of getting personal trainer work experience:

Getting personal trainer experience helps you get a job as a PT

Perhaps the most important reason for getting personal trainer experience is that it can increase your employability. 

Whether you are applying for a role in a gym, leisure centre or other fitness facility, most personal trainer job descriptions will list experience as a requirement, or at least a preference for the role. 

For example, the job advert below lists 1 year personal training experience as a requirement. This means that without it, you would not be eligible for this job!

personal trainer no experience 3

Even if experience is not an explicit requirement, employers will list it as a ‘preference’, such as the job advert below. 

This means that if you do have experience, you will have an advantage over other applicants, strengthening your personal trainer CV and ultimately increasing your chances of finding a job! 

personal trainer no experience 4

For example, say an employer was choosing between you and another applicant. You both have the same qualifications and education, but you have 1 years work experience in the fitness industry whereas the other applicant does not. The employer is much more likely to choose you, since you already meet the criteria.

In this case, having experience could be the deciding factor for an employer, and make the difference between you getting a job or not!

Employers will ask for work experience because in most cases, the more practical experience you have, the better a personal trainer you will be. 

Plus, having more experience benefits the employer as it means that you will be more ready to take on the role than someone with no previous experience. 

For example, say you are applying for a PT job in a gym. If you already have work experience in a gym, you will already be familiar with how a gym works, and tasks such as cleaning equipment, giving inductions and interacting with members. 

By already having these skills, this is one less thing for the employer to have to train you on, saving them time and money. It also means that they will be more confident in your abilities, making for a better employer-employee relationship.

Getting personal trainer work experience helps you attract potential clients

personal training work experience 3

As well as helping you get a contracted job, personal training work experience can help you attract potential future clients. 

This is particularly beneficial if you are wanting to become a freelance personal trainer, as building up a clientbase is arguably one of the hardest things about the role. So anything that can make it easier is definitely a bonus!

For example, say you get personal trainer work experience at a gym. During this time, you will interact with gym members and hopefully start to build good relationships with them. 

If you make a good impression, these people could then turn into paying clients once you are qualified!

Plus, when you come to market yourself as a personal trainer, having some experience behind you can also help you get clients. Clients are more likely to choose a personal trainer with more experience, as they will have more confidence in your abilities.   

Your experience is something you should mention in your personal trainer bio. For example, the two PTs below mention their experience early on in their bio, since this is something that potential clients will be looking for.

personal trainer experience

personal trainer experience 2  

Getting personal trainer work experience is a chance to shadow other fitness professionals

personal training work experience 2

Personal trainer work experience is not only an opportunity to meet potential clients, but it is also a chance to meet other professionals in the fitness industry.

A huge part of getting into the fitness industry is about networking, making connections and shadowing professionals that could then turn into potential employers. 

For example, say you did work experience for your local gym. If you made a good impression, they could offer you a full-time position as a personal trainer.

Even if you don’t get a job offer straight away, a position may come up there in the future. By having already shadowed the employer, learning the commercial side of the role, you may be at an advantage if you were to apply.

Plus, if you have made a good impression, people you have networked with may also recommend you for other positions they hear of within the industry!  

Getting work experience in a gym also means that you can interact with other staff members, such as other personal trainers. This is a great opportunity to ask them questions such as how they got into their job and any tips for getting into the industry that can help you with your own career. 

Finally, having experience shadowing professionals will show a gym manager at an interview that you're extremely passionate for the position and dedicated to learning the role.

Getting personal trainer experience can help you choose your career path

how to get personal training experience

Another reason why getting personal trainer work experience is so important is that it can help you work out what kind of direction you want to take in your career as a personal trainer.

This is because during your work experience, you will likely try a range of different aspects of being a personal trainer. This helps you discover where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and which areas you are particularly passionate about. 

This can then help you determine things such as:

  • The types of clients you want to work with. For example, you may find that you are particularly good at training clients with special considerations, such as clients with diabetes. 

Finding this out during your personal trainer work experience can help you then determine your career path, as you may then choose to take a Level 4 Course in Diabetes Control and Weight Management

  • Where you want to work. For example, you may find that you thrive working in a busy commercial gym environment. Or, you may realise that you would feel more comfortable working in a quieter setting, such as a private studio. Knowing this can then help you determine where you apply for jobs!  
  • How you want to work- i.e. contracted by a gym or freelance. During your personal trainer work experience, you may find that you like the stability and structure of being contracted by a gym. 

Alternatively, you may realise that you’d prefer the freedom of being freelance and having more freedom over your schedule. 

Again, knowing this can then help you determine the type of jobs you apply for, as you can filter your search to either just contracted or freelance roles. 

Without having had personal training work experience, you may not have discovered these important factors! You may have simply applied for a personal trainer role without even considering other potential career paths or ways of working. 

How To Get Practical Personal Training Experience: 7 Strategies

So, it is clear that getting personal trainer insurance is hugely beneficial for your career. With this in mind, here are our top 7 ways to get personal training experience!   

#1- Choose a personal training course that offers practical personal training experience

how to get personal training experience 5

As well as giving you the qualification you need to become a personal trainer, taking a personal training course is also one of the best ways to get work experience. 

However, this is only the case if you take your course with an Ofqual-regulated course provider. 

Ofqual is also the Government body responsible for setting the frameworks for vocational course levels. All Ofqual-regulated courses will therefore cover the same content, as they have to meet the industry standards set by Ofqual. 

In terms of practical experience, all Ofqual-regulated courses will give you practical personal trainer work experience in the following two ways:

  • Practical workshops. As well as online or classroom-based learning, you will also be required to take part in practical workshops as part of your personal training course. 

This is a great opportunity to gain hands-on personal trainer work experience in delivering a PT session.

Plus, it allows you to put the theory you have learnt on the course into practice.

This is arguably one of the most important aspects of a course because after all, delivering sessions is one of the main roles and responsibilities of a personal trainer

Having a practical element is therefore something you should look for in a course provider, as it can give you valuable personal training experience. . 

  • Practical assessment. As part of your course assessment, as well as exams and coursework, there will also be a practical element where you will have to deliver a customised personal training programme for a client. 

As well as being simply a requirement for passing the course, this is a further opportunity to gain practical personal trainer work experience and prepare you for working as a PT. 


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#2- Train your family and friends to gain personal trainer experience  

how to get personal training experience 4

Perhaps the easiest strategy for gaining personal trainer work experience is to use your family and friends as mock clients.

For example, say you are taking your personal training course and have just learnt about delivering a postural assessment. You could then ask a family member at home if they would be willing to let you practice your new skills on them and give them a postural assessment. 

Similarly, if you have just qualified as a PT, you may not have paying clients straight away. But by asking to train family and friends, you can keep up your skills and knowledge so that you feel confident and prepared when you come to train a real client. 

This is a great way to gain personal trainer work experience without the pressure of a real-life paying client, as you will be more relaxed and comfortable with your friends and family. 

If you are still studying or have not yet qualified, it is likely that you will still be learning and making mistakes. Trying out your teaching methods, knowledge and training techniques on family and friends means that you can iron out these mistakes before you start taking on paying clients. 

Plus, friends and family are more likely to give you honest feedback, since they will hopefully want you to improve and learn as much as possible- whereas a paying client will not have this same attitude. 

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#3- Get personal training work experience by shadowing a PT in a gym

personal training work experience 5

When it comes to getting personal trainer work experience, one of the most beneficial things you can do is to shadow another personal trainer in a gym.  

Work shadowing is simply a type of work experience where you observe someone in their role to get an insight into their job and what it involves. 

The easiest way to find a PT to shadow is simply by approaching a trainer in your local gym or fitness centre and ask if they would be willing to let you shadow them for a day.

Although you will learn how to programme and deliver a PT session during your personal training course, shadowing someone will give you more of an insight into the ‘reality’ of the role that you simply cannot learn in the classroom!

Some valuable things you can learn from personal trainer shadowing are:

  • How they conduct a session
  • How they interact and communicate with the client
  • How they demonstrate exercises to the client
  • How they prepare before a session 
  • How they manage their time
  • Other tasks involved in working in a gym such as cleaning equipment
  • How they interact with members on the gym floor
  • How they manage things such as their marketing and social media  

If you are interested in pursuing a particular personal training niche, then it is a good idea to shadow a PT who also specialises in that niche if you can- or at least something similar. 

For example, if you are interested in personal training overweight clients, then it would be particularly beneficial to shadow a PT who specialises in this. But since this is such a specific niche, you might want to look for something more generalised instead. 

For example, you could try to shadow a PT who specialises in weight loss in general, as this is a far more applicable goal to a broader range of clients. They will still have lots of relevant tips, knowledge and training methods to share with you that can be applied to overweight clients. 

When shadowing a personal trainer, remember that although you are trying to learn, you should also respect the client. 

Don’t interrupt the session or try to intervene- remember that it is about the client, not you! Write down any questions you have to ask the PT and save them for after the session has finished.

#4- Gain personal trainer experience with a personal trainer mentor 

personal training experience 5

Perhaps one of the best ways to get personal trainer work experience is by finding a personal training mentor.

A personal training mentor is simply someone who gives help and advice to a newly qualified or less experienced personal trainer. They usually have many years of experience in the fitness industry. 

The benefits of having a personal trainer mentor are similar to shadowing a PT in a gym, as they also act as a ‘role model’ you can learn from, since they have more experience in the industry than you- particularly if you have not yet or have just recently qualified. 

However, a personal training mentor can help you get experience in many other areas that shadowing a PT cannot, such as:

  • The business side of personal training
  • Marketing
  • Career progression

Perhaps the main benefit of using a PT mentor is that unlike shadowing a PT for just one or two days, it is a more long-term relationship. You may work with a PT mentor for several weeks, months or even years! 

This means that you can be constantly gaining personal trainer work experience, from before you’ve qualified to later in your career. 

Check out our guide to personal trainer mentors for a more in-depth guide for how they can help you and how to find one. 

#5- Find personal trainer work experience in other local fitness institutions

how to get personal training experience 2

As well as getting personal training work experience in a gym, you can also volunteer in other local fitness-related institutions, such as:

  • Sports clubs
  • Schools sports team 
  • University sports clubs
  • Offices and workplaces

Getting work experience in a gym can be difficult, especially if you are not yet a qualified PT. This is because it is a highly competitive market- there will be lots of other budding personal trainers looking for work experience. 

This is why thinking ‘outside the box’ when looking for personal trainer work experience can be a good idea, particularly if you are not qualified yet. 

For example, most local football teams will have some kind of personal trainer for their players. You could therefore approach your local football team and ask whether they have any work experience for you, or any opportunities to shadow an existing trainer or coach. 

Even if you don’t necessarily want to work in a football team, this is still useful work experience to have as a personal trainer! You will still learn valuable skills that can be transferred to any personal trainer role, such as creating a training programme for a specific fitness goal.  


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As well as giving you work experience, it is also a great chance to network with potential employers and clients. 

For example, say you did some work experience with your local rugby team. If you made a good impression, if a personal trainer or fitness coach role came up in the future at the club, you would already be at an advantage, since they will have already seen your work. 

Even if a job within the club itself doesn’t come up, one of the players may well be looking for a PT at some point. Again, by having already worked with them, they are much more likely to reach out to you, rather than taking the risk with a PT they have never met before. 

So if you cannot get personal trainer work experience working in a gym, it is worth thinking outside the box of other places in your local area where you can offer your services! 

#6- Use connections from your course provider to find personal training work experience

pt experience

Whether you’re still studying or have just qualified, the connections you make on your PT course can also help you to find personal trainer work experience.

The main way you can do this is through the trainers who taught you on the course.

If you take your Level 3 personal trainer course with OriGym, all of your teachers will be qualified personal trainers themselves and experts in the industry.

For example, one of them may own a gym, or run their own personal training business. You could then approach them and ask about getting work experience with them, or even just shadow them for a day. Even if they cannot take you on personally, they could help you find another opportunity with someone else within the industry. 

As well as the trainers themselves, choosing a course provider that offers post-course support can help you get personal trainer work experience. 

If you take your personal trainer course with OriGym, for example, you will have access to our award-winning careers advice when you qualify. Our team of experts can use our vast network of partner gyms across the UK to help you get work experience after you qualify!  

#7- Get personal trainer experience in marketing

personal training experience 2

If you’re wondering how to get personal training experience, you may have only thought about practical, hands-on experience. Whilst this is important, there are other types of personal training experience that will benefit your career- such as marketing. 

Marketing is a huge part of being a personal trainer. Particularly if you want to run your own personal training business, having a strong personal trainer marketing strategy will help you attract clients and build your brand identity.

One of the easiest ways to get work experience as a personal trainer is to start to build a presence on social media.

Considering that research has found that an average of 54% of people use social media to browse for and research products, it only makes sense that you should capitalise on this huge marketing platform!

Even if you aren’t qualified yet, this is a great way to start to build up an online presence and your brand. It means that when you do qualify or start your own PT business, you will hopefully already have a good amount of followers, who could then turn into paying clients! 

As well as helping your PT business in the long-run, getting experience in marketing can also help you find a contracted role in a gym. 

This is for two main reasons. Firstly, an employer can look at your social media and you can demonstrate skills that you cannot show from just a CV, such as:

  • Your personality 
  • Creativity 
  • Your training style (e.g. through videos of you training people)
  • Your own fitness level 
  • Testimonials from clients
  • Your specialities 

The other reason why you should get personal trainer work experience in social media is that it demonstrates business skills. 

Showing that you have successfully created and managed a social media page demonstrates that you have strong business skills in areas such as:

  • Marketing
  • Branding
  • Content creation
  • Time management

Whilst these skills are not directly fitness-related, they are still important personal trainer skills that an employer may find valuable, and can help you stand out from other applicants. 

We will discuss how even marketing experience in other non-fitness related sectors can be a useful form of personal trainer experience in the next section of this article!

Other Ways Of Getting Personal Trainer Work Experience

Aside from working directly as a personal trainer or in a fitness environment, there are other forms of work experience that are worth including on your CV, PT cover letter or during a job interview. 

So if you’re wondering how you can become a personal trainer with no experience in the fitness industry, don’t worry!

Even if your work experience is not directly fitness-related, as long as you can justify how it relates to personal training, it can help you be more employable. 

Here are some of the main types of roles that will give you transferable skills for being a personal trainer:

Experience in sales

personal training experience 4

As well as delivering exercise programmes and training clients, an often overlooked but major part of being a personal trainer is sales. 

So if you have a background in any kind of sales-related role, this is actually a hugely valuable form of personal training work experience!

This is the case whether you are working as a PT in a gym, self-employed or running your own personal trainer business. Whichever capacity you work in, sales will be a part of your role. 

For example, if you are working for a PT in a gym, you are essentially acting as a sales representative for that gym. Most employers will expect you to interact with clients on the gym floor and sell your services to prospective clients. 

But don’t just take our word for it! As you can see from the responsibilities listed in the job advert below, there are lots of sales-related tasks involved in being a personal trainer. 

personal trainer experience 5

In fact, many gyms will have a bonus scheme for their PTs based on how many sales you make- so it is definitely a worthwhile skill to have! 

Similarly, if you are a freelance PT, you will need strong sales skills to promote your business and sell your services! 

Some of the types of sales roles you can use as personal trainer work experience are:

  • Retail
  • Call centre
  • Sales representative
  • Estate agent
  • Travel agency 
  • Advertising 

So, if you have experience in any kind of sales-based role, there are lots of transferable skills that can help you become a successful personal trainer, such as:

  • Communication skills
  • Confidence
  • Being approachable
  • Negotiation skills
  • Rapport building 
  • Numeracy skills 
  • Time management and organisation 

With this in mind, say you worked in a clothes shop for a year. You may think that this is not relevant to the fitness industry. But in fact, this is a great way to demonstrate that you have the skills to be a personal trainer to a prospective employer. 

For example, you could relate your experience in up-selling in the shop you worked in to personal training. You would be able to use the same skills to up-sell a personal training package or gym membership! 

Experience in customer service

how to get personal training experience 3

Another major part of being a personal trainer is interacting with clients and delivering a service to them. Customer service is therefore another hugely valuable type of personal trainer work experience to have.

In fact, many personal trainer job adverts will specify customer service as a skill they are looking for, such as the one below. 

personal trainer experience 3

Essentially any role that involves delivering a service to members of the public demonstrates customer service skills. 

Some of the types of customer service roles that can act as personal trainer work experience are:

  • Hospitality roles 
  • Retail 
  • Call centre
  • Receptionist 
  • Customer support 
  • Public relations 

So, if you have experience in any of these roles, there are lots of transferable skills for personal training, such as:

  • Rapport building 
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving 
  • Ability to talk to a wide range of people
  • Patience
  • Confidence 
  • Time management

With this in mind, say you have worked as a receptionist in a hotel. You may think that this is not relevant personal trainer work experience. But in fact, this role will have given you lots of transferable skills for personal training. 

For example, part of your receptionist role may have been welcoming guests to the hotel and acting as a representative of the company. This is just like how a personal trainer has to welcome new members and represent the gym!

Experience in marketing

personal training experience 3

Marketing is another valuable source of personal trainer work experience. 

This is particularly important if you want to be a freelance personal trainer and run your own business, as marketing is what will ultimately help you attract clients. 

Check out our article on personal trainer marketing strategies here for more information about how you would use marketing as a personal trainer. 

Some of the types of marketing-related roles that can serve as useful personal trainer work experience are:

  • Social media manager
  • Digital marketing
  • SEO and content writing
  • PR 
  • Communications
  • E-commerce

Having experience in these kinds of roles gives you transferable skills for personal training such as:

  • Creativity 
  • Organisation 
  • Time management 
  • Problem solving 
  • Communication skills
  • Content creation 

Social media is a particularly useful work experience to have. Not only will you have to use social media to market your own business if you are a freelance PT, but many contracted roles will also specify social media management as a desired or even required skill- such as the job adverts below.

personal trainer no experience 2

personal trainer no experience

Another way to get marketing experience is through your personal training course. For example, if you take an Ofqual-regulated personal trainer course such as OriGym’s, we have a module on ‘Learning The Business’. 

This will teach you everything from how to market yourself as a PT to how to create a business model. 

So even if you don’t have direct work experience, an Ofqual-regulated PT course can still give you valuable skills that will help you become a successful personal trainer! 


Become a Personal Trainer with OriGym

Enquire about our Personal Trainer Diploma and kickstart a lucrative career in the fitness industry!

Experience in working in a team

You may think that being a personal trainer is a ‘solo’ profession. But in fact, demonstrating the ability to work in a team is valuable personal trainer work experience!

If you want to work as a PT in a gym, for example, you will have to be able to cooperate with other members of staff in the gym. This could be anyone from other personal trainers to cleaners!

In fact, many job adverts will specify teamwork as a skill they are looking for, such as the one below.  

personal trainer experience 4

With this in mind, any job where you can demonstrate that you have worked in a team can be used as personal trainer work experience. 

This could be anything from working in an office to working in a cafe. Anything where you have worked with other people demonstrates to an employer that you have teamwork skills, will make you a more desirable applicant.

Before you go!

So, we hope you now have a better idea of how to get personal training experience and why it is so important!

If you’re not already, take the first step towards a career in the fitness industry today with our Personal Trainer Diploma! Or, you can browse our full range of fitness courses by downloading our free course prospectus here

Written by Alice Williams

Content Editor & Yoga Teacher

Alice graduated with a First-Class degree in French and Linguistics from the University of Leeds in 2019. 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. 

Alice is also a qualifiied yoga teacher, allowing her write from a place of expertise when it comes to yoga!

When she’s not writing or practicing yoga, she also loves running, cooking and music! 

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