The UK’s health and fitness industry is growing at an exponential rate and is currently worth more than £4 billion. This number is only set to increase year on year, with new fitness facilities opening all the time, backed up by innovative new trends and advances in technology. From social media to blogs, TV to apps and games, fitness truly is the mainstream. It’s estimated that one in every seven people in the UK is a gym member and, with that type of volume, the need for talented, qualified fitness professionals has never been greater …
Without a doubt the role that is most synonymous with fitness is that of the personal trainer. Long gone is the perception that having a personal trainer was something reserved only for the affluent; it’s been replaced by the actuality that – day in, day out – personal trainers change the lives of clients of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. They really are the cornerstones of the fitness industry and their influence couldn’t have come at a better time.
In recent years we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in sedentary behaviour. We’re spending more time than ever on electronic devices, sitting down in front of the TV and generally not moving. Some consider sedentary behaviour as dangerous as smoking, and with epidemic levels of chronic diseases and increasing rates of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, low back pain and high blood pressure, it’s hard not to agree.
All of this adds up to the fact that today’s personal trainers need to be adaptable and fully equipped to deal with whatever comes their way. Each client will be different and goals will vary – there really is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach in the fitness world.
This is also reflected by the sheer variety of places where a personal trainer can work. PTs are longer to confined to the gym floor and there are now opportunities to train clients outdoors or at their own homes. Delivering online training is becoming an increasingly popular avenue to take, while ambitious trainers might also look at corporate training or even working on a cruise ship for something truly outside the box (see weblink).
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Before considering the education side of becoming a personal trainer, it’s important to explore what other qualities are needed to succeed in the world of fitness. It’s one thing for people to eat healthily and call exercise their hobby, but quite another to live and breathe health and fitness and carry an unwavering passion for the industry. Even personal trainers are allowed to let their hair down, but the majority of the time they will be eating properly, staying in shape, educating themselves and remaining motivated – even in the face of incredibly long and potentially draining days. It is an incredible undertaking and one that isn’t for everyone.
Practically speaking, becoming a personal trainer requires two fundamental steps. First, newcomers to fitness are required to complete the level 2 Gym Instructor course, which teaches the basics of working in a gym and engaging with clients. The logical progression from level 2 Gym is of course the level 3 Certificate in Personal Training. The completion of this course grants fully qualified personal trainer status. Naturally, there are many ways in which personal trainers can upskill and expand the range of clients they can work with. Potential courses include the level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage (see weblink), level 3 Exercise Referral (also known as GP Referral), level 3 Exercise for Older Adults and level 3 Exercise for Pre and Postnatal Clients. Remember that your ELC can be used to take courses at level 3 and above (see box).
USE YOUR ELC
Under the ELC scheme, a wide range of learning can be taken, provided it is offered by an approved provider listed on the ELC website at www.enhancedlearningcredits.com and is at level 3 or above.
Post-qualification, trainers will be faced with a choice as they enter the world of work. Do they go self-employed and be their own boss, or perhaps take a full- or part-time employed position at a fitness facility? There are merits to both routes, although 76% of respondents to a recent Working in Fitness survey were self-employed.
In terms of where trainers can find work, there is a range of facilities and, due to the fact that the level 3 Certificate in Personal Training is an internationally recognised qualification, the most ambitious personal trainers have the opportunity to truly take things global. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does give a great idea about where trainers can find work:
- personal training agencies
- cruise ships
- holiday resorts
- CrossFit boxes
- gyms and health clubs
- schools, colleges and universities.