Personal Training Challenges & How to Overcome Them

Personal Training Challenges and How to Overcome Them

As you enter the fitness industry, it’s likely you’re going to be met with some personal training challenges, and overcoming them is how you stay on the road to success.

That’s why we’ve covered the solutions to the most prominent challenges you could face as a personal trainer. Remember, each challenge overcome is a step toward a fulfilling career and there is always a solution!

If you want to stand out from your competitors, why not enquire about one of our advanced level 4 personal training courses?  Find this and many more health and fitness courses here in our downloadable course prospectus!

7 Personal Training Challenges and Solutions

#1 Setting Yourself up as a Business Owner Presents an Early Personal Training Challenge

personal training challenges

According to industry reports, the majority of personal trainers are self-employed. This means that becoming a personal trainer goes hand in hand with starting up a business. This is a huge step for anybody in any industry, so it’s totally normal to feel nervous or even overwhelmed. 

Nonetheless, this step comes with a huge reward. Being completely in charge of your own career is something that not everyone can say, and there are heaps of benefits. 

So how do you overcome this challenge and come out on the other side stronger?

Start by creating some sort of business structure or model. This may sound more confusing than it truly is, but it can help you to create a checklist of all of the important steps of setting up your personal training business.

Your checklist could look a little something like this:

challenges for PTs

You can adjust this checklist in a way to fit you and your kind of personal training. For example, your list may be in a different order, or contain more things than others depending on where you are in your career. 

It is a good idea to set this out in a linear way so you feel prepared to start operating your business. You don’t want to leave any important set-up factors like personal training insurance because this can be detrimental to your career. 

Little by little check your jobs off of the list and you will see how the process isn’t intimidating at all, allow yourself time to tackle these jobs and ask for help when you need it.

For example, if you’re a student of OriGym, we have tons of help for post-graduates of ours to put you on the right track but there are some other ways too.

When you register as self-employed, you can get in touch with a helpline designed for those who want to set up a business in the UK. This can cover all different areas that you may be worried about missing out like help with what taxes you need to pay and even writing a business plan.

Plus, all of this help is completely free of charge.

challenges to overcome as a PT

These tasks, while daunting, do need to be done, but once you’ve overcome this first hurdle, your career prospects are limitless. 

You can then say goodbye to any restraints of being an employee and say hello to a career of total freedom and control over your own business and finances.

#2 Gaining and Retaining Clientele is A Personal Training Problem You Can Overcome

personal training challenges to overcome

One thing that might seem relatively intimidating for newcomers to the PT industry is not only getting clients on board, but retaining their custom, too. 

Naturally, this is going to be among the personal trainer problems that every single PT will encounter early on in their career, since nobody walks into the role of a self employed PT and has a client base waiting for them.

You have to work to gain a client base, which is why most PTs start their career working in a commercial gym where there are plenty of members who could potentially become clients. 

Commerical gyms like PureGym and JD Gyms are a great way to bridge towards a career as a self-employed personal trainer as they hire PTs on a part-time basis, allowing them to work on the gym floors for around 8 hours week.

This allows you to earn enough to cover any personal trainer rent fees, meaning you'll never be left short and allowing you to keep all of the income you generate from training clients 1-1.

Most commercial gyms provide the first month’s (or even first two months’) rent free so you have time to market yourself and get to know gym members to build up a client base, this allows you to build your business while working for them, creating a mutually beneficial professional relationship.

Within this time, you'll be able to do things like:

  • Lead classes
  • Provide gym inductions
  • Be on the gym floor in uniform

All of these things can help you to build potential relationships with gym members who could then get on board with you as a client. 

As well as this, you usually gain business start-up help from them too, take a look below at what PureGym promise for their staff who are looking to create a successful business as a PT with them:

personal training challenges to overcome

You should finalise your PT client retention strategy to keep as many clients around as possible, and view this as a necessary stepping stone in your career, rather than a personal trainer problem to overcome.

#3 Dealing with Difficult Clients is Often A Challenge When It Comes To Personal Training

personal trainer career challenges

Working with the public in any capacity can bring along difficulties, and personal training is no different. 

Whether you’ve worked in hospitality, retail or anything that requires working with the public there will be a small percentage that could be regarded as ‘difficult’. This is true of personal training too as often, people might have unrealistic expectations.

For example, if potential clients have seen some of your past transformations on past clients, they might believe that they can achieve the same even though there’s so many variables, including:

  • Different limitations (such as overall fitness levels, or joint/muscular problems)
  • Body types
  • Both your and the client’s availability. 

This can ultimately lead to a client who feels disappointed or is being unreasonable. But, there is a simple way to overcome this, and this is preparing the clients with realistic SMART fitness goals so they’re not expecting something that simply isn’t achievable. 

personal trainer career challenges

This probably won’t be something that you’ll come across often. In fact, more often than not clients will trust your word, and won’t have any unachievable goals, but how you handle the situation is crucial.

Approach with understanding and care, you want to make sure that your client feels like they will make progress over time, even if it takes longer than previous clients so give them a realistic time frame and keep up to date with client progress reports so that even if progression is slow, they can see it is happening. 

For some helpful personal training resources, find our articles below:

#4 Personal Training Problems Can Involve Finding the Right Insurance

personal trainer career challenges to overcome

Insurance is vital in your career as a PT and it is something that you cannot practice without. 

Insurance in many cases can seem complicated but with personal training it is relatively easy as the one key coverage you need to look for is called personal liability insurance. Our complete guide to PT insurance explains this in much more detail.

This is pretty straight forward, and means you don’t need to sift through different insurance types and guess which ones you need. A popular provider in the UK is Insure4Sport.

Their website is easy to use and budget friendly, and you can get a quote easily too by filling out a simple quote form. Check out our example below that shows the screen you’ll see when taking out a policy:

personal trainer career challenges to solve

As you can see, there’s just 5 steps before you can purchase your insurance cover. It’s never been easier or clearer to get insurance as a PT, it is one of the personal training challenges that sounds more complicated than it is!

#5 Marketing Your PT Business Successfully 

PT problems

Depending on your work experience background, you may find that one of your personal training challenges is marketing your business effectively. 

It is important that you research the best personal trainer marketing strategies, and understand that you shouldn’t waste your time or resources on marketing that isn’t going to benefit your business. 

For example, ensure that you’re marketing yourself in the right places. If you’re working in a gym, ensure your flyers are around the gym and offer things like a free taster session. 

The best advice for us to give is to not expect clients to flock in without any marketing or work going in from your end. 

You must give potential clients a reason to choose you. Personal trainers aren’t cheap, so you need to show people the reason why you’re worth the money.

This might mean showing off things like:

  • Transformations with previous clients
  • A professional online presence
  • Your professional history
  • Why you started fitness
  • Your PT niche

These factors ensure that you’re communicating your abilities to potential clients, otherwise they’re not going to be able to see a unique streak in you compared to other personal trainers in their area.

#6 Dealing With Burnout Can Be a Personal Training Challenge to Overcome

personal trainer career problems

Burning out is totally natural in any kind of job role, but when you’re your own boss, it can become more apparent since you ultimately have more responsibility.

You should recognise that this is normal and to combat this, take a break. Being a personal trainer and being your own boss means you may forget to take breaks, or fail to draw the line between your personal life and your work life. 

You should set personal time aside every week. This might mean taking a Sunday off or a midweek break - listen to your body and mind and when you need a break take one! 

This is how you will genuinely progress when you’re self-employed, allowing yourself time to take a step back while your PT business grows.

Something else you can do is ask for help. Whether it’s a friend, family member or your colleagues in the gym, if you’re feeling burnt out, ask for some advice - many other PTs have been in that position before, and they’ll often have their own strategies to deal with the pressures.

You can write in journals, celebrate the small victories, or take a second to remember why you started. Take up some mindfulness exercises and try to overcome your burnout by thinking about how far you have come before you push yourself to go further. 

#7 Among Personal Training Challenges is Becoming Accustomed to An Irregular Income

personal trainer career problems and challenges

Arguably, you could call this one of the personal training challenges that you’ll face, but it’s also one of the great things about being a personal trainer.

Yes, you will have to expect an irregular income, but this isn’t necessarily a negative thing. The fitness industry has peaks, and there are some months that are always going to be busier than others. For example, January is a huge month for gyms - after winter, the New Year's resolutions kick in and the gym is packed!

While you won't always earn as much as you will in January, that's not to say that you'll have a low wage during the quieter months.

So, you could expect to make a much more healthy income during the start of the year. Keep these kinds of trends in mind, do some independent research, and ask the management in your gym when their peak months are, and when members typically start to slow down. 

This is a good way to gauge how to spread your costs and just learn to budget a little better.

personal training problems

For example, if you know that November and December are quiet, this would be a good time to run promotions and create some excitement around limited time offers. 

Similarly, if you have tons of enquiries coming your way during January, you could even bump your prices up slightly. 

The best way to ensure a steady income thorough the year is to sell monthly training packages, rather than 'blocks' of sessions. Read our article on creating personal training packages here to learn how and why to implement this expert strategy. 

So yes, although being a freelance PT can mean a more irregular income, there are ways to capitalise on it and to learn important financial lessons on budgeting too. 

How to Prevent Potential Challenges as a PT

#1 Avoid Setting Unrealistic Goals For Yourself & Your Business

how to overcome personal trainer problems

Personal trainer problems become more damaging if you’re not prepared for them, so a good way to avoid this level of disappointment is to set realistic expectations.

For example,  we spoke earlier about how setting SMART goals is a good way to deal with clients, but those same principles also apply to you. 

Yes, the personal training business can provide you with a great career with a more than healthy income but you have to work to get there. 

Like anything, if you don’t set goals, you’ll struggle to measure your success and overall progress, but with a career path it can stunt your growth if you overthink it.

SMART goals are great for your career, as they revolve around realistic goal setting. This means that you believe that you will reach the goal, and the steps you’ll take are doable, and the overall goal is one that you can comfortably work towards.

For example, an unrealistic goal would be:

To open up a studio and have a fully booked client base in my first couple of weeks

However, a realistic and achievable goal would be:

To land an interview with a commercial gym as a hired fitness instructor

The second one still requires work, but it is doable in the sense that you can most certainly achieve this stepping stone into your career as a PT. 

#2 Identify Your Weak Points And Actively Work On Them

how to overcome personal trainer challenges

There is no escaping that all of us have flaws, but working on them is how you become a more well-rounded person, especially so in a business context.

These imperfections that you identify may include things like:

  • Trouble with following a schedule or creating a schedule
  • Punctuality lets you down
  • Organisation is lacking

These can be problematic for your business, especially when you’re the person who does everything. 

However, by doing some self reflection and identifying what your flaws are, you’re able to avoid bumping into troubles like not being on time for a client which can be detrimental to your relationship with that client.

Self reflection is vital in becoming a better working professional and it is something that you will thank yourself for when you start to see better progress in your career.

#3 Be Truthful About What Could Be Holding Your PT Business Back

how to overcome personal trainer career problems

This is something that may come as a product of setting unrealistic goals and expectations, so how can recognising this prevent you from encountering the aforementioned personal trainer problems.

Being in denial as a personal trainer presents itself as:

  • Not recognising when you’ve made a mistake
  • Not taking advice on board
  • Not admitting when you need help

These are attributes that may come from a good place in you, but can seriously damage your business if you don’t overcome them. 

We recommend listening to advice when people who care about you try to give it, if you feel like there is an underlying feeling that something is wrong, avoid ignoring it. The faster you get to the bottom of any issues the faster you can progress!

Before You Go…

You should feel confident in becoming a PT and most importantly, overcoming these stepping stones to a fulfilling career. 

Arguably the best way to overcome any personal training challenge, though, is through further study and learning, especially in the fitness industry

Here at OriGym, we have Level 4 advancement personal training courses and much more that you can find in our downloadable course prospectus.


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Written by Kimberley Mitchell


Having gained a B.A Hons degree in Media, Culture and Communications, Kimberley has gained experience in areas of web journalism, website production and marketing.

Alongside this, Kim expanded her knowledge and passion for fitness, by becoming a fully qualified fitness instructuor and personal trainer. Kim has also gained specialist qualifications in yoga, nutriton, spin and many more.

After working in the industry as a PT, Kimberley went on to study an MA in Digital Marketing and continues to expand her knowledge in the industry. Her main focus is to keep up with current trends and communications with a focus around health & fitness, writing and being creative.

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