Our guide to personal training
Jane McGuire

Our guide to personal training

First published date January 21 2015 Amended date January 21 2015

For most of us, just getting to the gym is an achievement in itself, but for those working in the industry it is a way of life. Behind every great athlete is a team of personal trainers. With demand on the rise and plenty of career prospects out there, if you have the motivation to get others going this could be the job for you. However in order to work as a personal trainer, whether freelance or in a gym, you will need to gain a recognised qualification first.


I know how to stay in shape but I’m not sure how I would help other people...

To be a personal trainer obviously requires a keen attention to the world of fitness. While you don’t have to be ripped to the standards of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his ‘Mr Universe’ prime, it is important that you are already taking an active interest in your own health and fitness and already know your way quite comfortably around the gym environment. It’s not necessary to know the ins and outs of the human anatomy at the beginner stages of training as that is something you will be taught as you go along, though basic knowledge would be beneficial. 


What can I expect?



Although each course will vary slightly, most will cover the areas needed to attain the official certification needed to practise. As a personal trainer, you will work one to one with clients of all ages and fitness levels, so you will need to be able to set achievable goals. After an initial assessment you will need to create an exercise plan based on body composition and muscle strength, working out reps, sets and resistance. In order to keep a client coming back, they need to see results. As a personal trainer you will need to know how to record heart rate and body fat levels, in order to adjust and tweak the plan as you go along.


Health and safety

Beginner personal training courses will take you through gym fundamentals, especially health and safety. Making sure you can use gym equipment and machines properly and teach on them is very important when it comes to avoiding serious injuries. Keeping your clients safe from injury is paramount.



It’s a well known saying that a six pack is made in the kitchen; as a personal trainer your job will be about more than just the hours spent in the gym. Courses will cover the nutritional aspects of setting a personalised meal plan, changing bad lifestyle habits and improving a client’s health.



As a personal trainer, it’s vital that you know about the anatomy and physiological elements of the human body when exercising. Putting too much strain on muscles and ligaments can cause serious injury, so be ready to go back to your school biology lessons and learn all the theory.


Am I right for this?

Personal training requires you to have excellent interpersonal skills. Working very closely with clients in an intense exercise environment demands you to be motivational, inspirational and patient too. Your clients will be in close communication with you and the service you provide for them is something very personal, so to be able to build a strong rapport with them is essential.

Whether you work freelance or in a gym, your training sessions will be tailored around your client. This means as a personal trainer your working hours will have be flexible, fitting in sessions in after working hours or at the weekend.


What should I look for?

When it comes to choosing a personal training course, the qualification is a good place to start. Most courses will award a Level 2 Certificate or diploma in fitness, which can then be built upon to get a Level 3 Personal Training Certificate, seen as the industry’s gold standard.

Once you have got your certificate it is often recommended that you gain membership of a professional organisation such as the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS), or the National Register of Personal Trainers (NRPT).


 I’m already working in the fitness industry...

For those already working as a personal trainer, taking an additional course to demonstrate your skills and experience could improve your career prospects. What’s more, you could always add to your repertoire by getting trained in yoga, Pilates or aerobics.  


Interesting facts on the human anatomy

-          The strongest muscle in the human body is your tongue! You might have thought that your guns would take that accolade but your tongue is an incredibly strong muscle proportionately.


-          It’s harder to lose muscle than to gain it. It is actually fairly easy to build muscle compared to losing it if you stopped working out, twice as easy in fact.


-          Men burn fat quicker than women. Women burn 50 calories a day less than men; this is due to the female reproductive role which requires more body fat to be stored.


-          The jawbone is the hardest bone in the human body

Similar Subjects