BSC, BA, BTEC Level 2, BTCE Level 3, OCR, W07 ... These slightly barbaric acronyms are, as you may know, professional training courses, degrees and diplomas to teach sports.

But are they enough to become a personal trainer? A sports coach online or at home?

Does this relatively new professional in the UK sports scene have a specific diploma? Are we required to take recognized training to coach and support a client's weight loss, bodybuilding exercises or fitness classes? Is it possible to offer these services without a diploma?

If you've wondered about any or all of these questions about being a personal trainer yourself, Superprof brings you all the answers you need today!

What Does a Personal Trainer do?

Was anyone really thinking about hiring an in-home personal trainer a few decades or even years ago?

Not really. If fitness or the principle of getting in shape has existed for a long time now, it was often done alone. The athlete faced the machines or his fitness objectives alone. At the most, only the gym could offer valuable advice from a fitness coach. But this wasn't the case in all gyms...

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Don't be a personal trainer in Ben Stiller style
Ben Stiller in Dodgeball i.e. the ultimate caricature of a personal trainer! (Source: Buzzfeed)

It was when people began to get tired of the "crowded" and "muscled" atmosphere of certain fitness clubs, that the job of an in-home fitness trainer finally appeared. In the U.S.A., a country where sport and body worship is king, (not for everyone, of course, 1/3 of the population remains obese), in-home personal training was born.

The goal: to reproduce at home or outdoors, with the help of a professional sports and fitness coach, what could before only be found at the gym. Without being embarrassed or hassled by working out with the crowds at the health club.

But when an individual coach travels to a client, they take on a much larger scope. The sporting aspect is not the only one to come into play. The "sports teacher", as originally imagined, becomes here a behavioral coach as well. Psychology indeed comes into play much more often than we think of with this kind of sports coaching.

This type of "personal trainer" must not only work with people who sometimes suffer from obesity, being overweight or daily stress, but also with athletes with low motivation or coming back from injury. All looking to be healed by sports, fitness, and stress-release. The coaches' "motivational" speech is, therefore, essential. The sports coach must play on precise psychological buttons.

It's like this we begin to see how a personal trainer has to wear many hats and have experience in many different domains. But is it required then to earn a diploma in order to offer this to clients...?

Find out how becoming a personal trainer might be easier than you think!

Can I become a Personal Trainer Without a Diploma?

This is THE big question that sports enthusiasts are asking every year in the UK. And even more so since the profession of fitness coaching online or at home was born.

Because there are many women or men who, after years and years of sports activities, have gained a certain knowledge of sports (such as bodybuilding, boxing, pilates, yoga, cardio, bike, abs weight loss...) and of the body (injuries, effective training for the muscles, such as abdominals, buttocks, shoulders, pecs, legs, thighs, back, how to practice safely...).

To the point of saying to oneself: "Maybe I could become a personal trainer?" How do I become a fitness instructor?! And it's only natural that it attracts attention and curiosity. What's better than being paid to teach and do what you love?

But before diving into training courses specific to sports training, does the very name of a "personal trainer" really have a specific training? Is it possible to get started without official accreditation or vocational training?

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Anyone can become a personal trainer
The law does not yet clearly recognize the status of "sports coach"! (Source: Gelaw)

... Yes! This very precise name is not the subject of any legislation or law in the UK. Can we, therefore, say that the job of a "personal trainer" does not exist? From a legislative point of view, yes. But, of course, we know that in reality, it is a major player in the professional field of sports in the UK today. At Superprof, we're quite familiar with this as we can count nearly 820 coaches registered on our site today!

A constantly increasing number.

But of all these people who, day after day, take care of customers wishing to lose weight, shape up, burn calories, start muscle building, have a flat stomach, turn to health sport or fitness, many are accredited with a diploma and professional training!

If it is on the one hand possible to teach without a professional certificate, there are nonetheless many differed training courses offered in the UK to prove your skills and credibility. Cross-functional training courses in that they are not always specific to personal training, but still give you the skills and qualifications needed to become a coach...

Do you also have the essential qualities needed to be a personal trainer?

What kind of Sports Degrees are there?

Do you find the following appealing: helping athletes maximize their potential, reach their goals, plan personalized training programs or promote and manage sports in your community?

Then either a BSC (Bachelor of Science) in Sports Sciences or a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Sports Studies may be for you!

The university degrees discussed below are all subject to 3-4 years of training and are recognized by the state. They allow you to focus on either a BSC (Bachelor of Science) or a BA (Bachelor of Arts) and allow you to specialize in the subject of your choice (physiology, nutrition, rehabilitation, youth and children, teaching, sports management etc). And if the primary goal of these courses is not at first to become a coach, they highly qualify you to be a personal trainer at home, as well as to prepare you for a profession as a phys ed teacher, personal trainer, sports coach or fitness trainer.

Discover the 2 streams to follow if you wish to present a university degree to your future clients...

Bachelor of Science- Degree in Sports Sciences

A degree in sports science will help you to gain skills in areas such as physiology, psychology, nutrition and biomechanics. Once graduated you could work in locations such as fitness clubs, gyms, schools and hospitals for example.

If you have an aptitude for science, and took science courses in upper or high school - sport or exercise science could be for you. You'll learn how the human body works during exercise, how to treat injuries and rehabilitation, how exercise promotes health and the nutrition behind exercise and training.

There are dozens of degrees offered in BSC Sports Sciences or BA Sports Studies. They all offer a 3 or 4 year degree, some with honours specialization. There are many different focuses depending on how you are leaning, from those focusing more on classes with nutrition, physiology, becoming a phys ed teacher, fitness instructing, sports coaching, personal training and more. Here are some examples:

  • Sport Science with Coaching BSC Honours 4 years
  • Sport and Exercise Science BSC Honours 4 years
  • Sport Rehabilitation BSC Honours 3 years

Bachelor of Arts- Degree in Sports Studies

If you aren't much interested in Science and are interested in more arts-based sports courses such as psychology, history, management of the sports industry, sociology, and health and research in sports, then a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Studies would be the way to go.

You can also learn other important skills such as team-work, time management, customer focus, communication and how to motivate yourself and others. Here are some Bachelor of Arts based degrees, again with many other options available:

  • Childhood and Youth and Sports and Physical Education BA Honours 3 years
  • Sports Coaching and School Sport BA Honours
  • Sports Management BA Honours 3 years

What About a Personal Training Diploma?

Maybe you don't have high enough grades, or the time or money to put into university training... not to worry! There are other options available...

There are also diploma options which are specific to personal training and are usually 1 year or shorter. Much less money and time invested and still prepare you in different ways to become a sports instructor. There are 2 main options available, a BTCE (Business and Technology Education Council) in Level 2 or Level 3.

Diploma in Personal Training

  • Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing – Gym
  • Level 2 Diploma in Health, Fitness, and Exercise Instruction
  • Level 2 Diploma in Instructing Exercise and Fitness

You will learn how to work 1-2-1 with clients, but also how to run group classes.

Advanced Diploma in Personal Training

If you want to take further qualifications to specify even further in this career, you can take the advanced training and receive either:

  • Level 3 Diploma in Fitness Instructing and Personal Training or
  • Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training

All these courses will ultimately increase your salary as a sports teacher!

What Kind of Sports Coaching Is There?

Professor of Physical Education and Sports

At the mention of the term "Phys Ed teacher", we all know what it is. We all had them at school, in middle and upper classes.

Know that among the more than 800 personal trainers on Superprof, many have been or still are phys ed teachers. This kind of training offers a guarantee of security and credibility for your customers, which is significant when you're wanting to succeed in this profession.

Phys ed teachers can be personal trainers too
A sports teacher can feel free to practice as a sports coach outside of their classes! (Source: Pixabay)

To obtain the status of a sports or physical education teacher, it is will be necessary to follow a solid professional training. But at the end, you will gain a degree that is highly appreciated by sports coaching customers!

Fitness or sports instructor

What exactly is a fitness instructor? Someone who can teach a specific sport, and has a specialization, whether it be: judo, basketball, running, cycling, football, tennis...

Your clients might include young people for fun or competition, but also adults or seniors. In group and individual lessons, you could teach in-home, in a fitness club, a sports association, outdoors or rent a private room among others.

Fitness and cardio coach

A fitness coach is one of the most popular among sports coaching customers! It must be said that they are often expected to wear many hats from those wishing to lose weight, build muscle, increase their endurance or cardio, keep fit or tone up the body. That's a lot of qualities expected in a fitness coach!

Get in shape and help others in your own time
A fitness coach is highly sought after for those wanting to be trained at home. (Source: Pixabay)

Sports trainer

Physical preparation is a specific discipline within the world of sports. It often concerns athletes or teams in preparation for a sports season or competition. It involves intensive training which often lasts several weeks and which requires great knowledge of the human body and especially, gradually increasing muscle, dynamism and endurance without causing injury.

In other words, it cannot be improvised and it is better to have a diploma to support such a sustained physical training program! It is also a career where it is highly beneficial to look into personal training insurance...

Where Can I Work as A Fitness Professional?

Fitness clubs, health clubs, gyms, in-home, corporations, associations, online...

Nutrition and diet can be an important part of personal training
Dietary monitoring is important for athletes looking to lose weight. (Source: Pixabay)

At the same time demanding and understanding, compassionate and strict, being a coach has its contradictions.

It is also a term that consists of several disciplines, specializations and variations. Thus, the locations of work where a fitness instructor can find themselves are also just as varied.

Health club or gym

Gym manager, versatile sports coach, sports trainer, fitness instructor, many health clubs in the UK offer positions in the field.

The health phenomenon is also far from stopping as the marketing and development of fitness centres has almost doubled since 2005 according to some studies.

Many clubs are looking for instructors to teach their courses, and some personal trainers choose to rent out access to the premises and a room in a gym to practice their individual or group coaching courses.

Finally, a coach can decide to embark as an entrepreneur by starting the adventure of launching his own in-home or online coaching business (or own gym on a much larger scale). Some trainers may also decide to work together and share the responsibilities of looking for clients and planning courses.

Personal trainer in a sports club association

Some associations offer fitness classes to their members for a fee (unless you want to be a volunteer!). As an external coach on your own, you can charge a flat rate per session, or a discount for several sessions or pack of 5 or 10 classes for example.

Sports coach for a public organization
Mayors, local authorities or state bodies sometimes need sports instructors to manage the fitness, health and bodybuilding activities offered to staff.

Corporate Fitness

Whether in a luxury hotel, for private organizations or companies (start-ups, banks, insurance companies) a personal trainer can have the opportunity to charge for his services to help get both the residents and employees back in shape.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect?

Get accredited to earn more money.
Why is it important to graduate and show qualifications as a personal trainer? (Source: Pixabay)

While personal training has been around for awhile, this newly renovated and popular profession is continually evolving and has yet to land somewhere solid and quantifiable.

Indeed, while it was previously confined to sports halls and holiday clubs, this business has grown in recent years with the attention of the new generations for sport, well-being and prevention in health and wellness.

Becoming a sports coach today is opening up to a wide array of options, but also to a salary and schedule that can vary from day to day.

As a general average, a new personal trainer could expect to make around 1100 pounds per month early in their career, but this is still subject to many variables, where they work, their qualifications, the type of job they have and more.

For a sports coach whose clientele is more affluent or very wealthy, like the actress Audrey Lamy in the film "All that shines", one could be making a much higher salary of between 5000 to 10,000 pounds per month!

The types of courses offered also has an impact on the financial aspect. Thus, one could perceive the salary of the personal trainer as follows:

  • The least paid solution: online coaching. By Skype, phone or a third-party application, the personalized program, the technical advice and the analysis of the client's progress can be billed between 60 and 200 pounds per month, per person.
  • The most common solution: courses in small groups that allow asking prices up to more than 50 pounds per session. Far from personalized courses, the workload is reduced for the fitness instructor.
  • Personal training or personalized coaching: far from traditional courses, the price is determined by the reputation, experience and feedback of your students. Very disparate salaries according to who is the private teacher; a coach whose fame is well established can ask more than 200 pounds per session. In addition, he will be able to add expenses, within the framework of a company or as a contractor, related to the travel, equipment, type of coaching carried out and sometimes charge higher prices to the clinet to compensate.

Does Being a Personal Trainer Mean Also Becoming a Nutritional Coach?

"After effort comes the comfort"

This meaningful phrase for the athletes of the previous decades was associated with a way of life that is now completely over. Unfortunately or luckily, depending on the case, the piece of chocolate after a good run is no longer on trend.

Indeed, formerly an added expense or non-existent, the nutritional advice of a sports coach is now combined with the whole package of a fitness, weight training or physical training session.

Studies and scientific research, the popularity of eating organic and the reminder made on each advertising of fast food, as on a pack of cigarettes or alcohol, all point in the direction of eating healthy.

This is why the sports activity must necessarily be associated with a complete food program.

As much as monitoring physical efforts during training sessions, dietary monitoring is now just as prevalent in personal training to the point of being inseparable.

Eat healthy to stay in shape.
To give more efficiency to your workout it is important to eat balanced! (Source: Pixabay)

Thus, to avoid falling behind the competition or the demand of customers - more and more eager to be assisted with their daily nutrition - the sports coach will be responsible for the optimization of physical exercise by adding nutritional coaching as part of their work.

Support is often geared in particular towards weight loss, toning, muscular mass or energy gain and will be, in addition to physical exercise, guided by a nutritional program, with personalized menus as well as dietary supplements.

Note that becoming a sports coach today also means considering training in relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or tai chi as they are often now added in addition to sports training to learn how to manage stress.

Becoming a Personal Trainer in a Digital World: Unfair Competition?

They are increasingly popular, talked about amongst friends and support weight loss and fitness goals. Sports, fitness or weight loss applications that can be installed in a few clicks on a phone are becoming a real nuisance for personal trainers.

By becoming a personal trainer, we are personally involved in keeping our clients in shape by offering programs adapted to their level, their state of health and their goals and ambitions.

These expensive or even free applications exert almost unfair competition for some coaches. The time has not yet come to speak of personal training becoming obsolete, but we could fear this future as the scale of the phenomenon continues to grow.

To reassure personal trainers in their future, sports coaches who want to specialize or... we found some positive points that encourage us to think that personal training still is a job that has a bright future ahead.

Indeed, although some are built around physiological concepts, exercises and sports techniques that have been proven, these applications have several Achilles heels that make them vulnerable to classical competition:

  • The lack of relationship, the physical and motivational energy of working out with a trainer. The new generations who are used to doing it all on their smartphones may disagree, but a personal trainer who is trained to teach sports clearly stands out in this respect.
  • The quest for results. Forced to deliver results for the objectives programmed by users, such as calories lost, muscle mass gained or the training levels achieved to satisfy investors, the market and the public, these applications can be dangerous. Cases of injuries such as tears, dislocations and intense pain are multiplying by users of the apps. These are often caused by the idea of surpassing other users or improving their performance as requested by the application, without having the common sense of a real person in front of them to guide and adjust their movements in a safe way.
  • The target audience of the applications: generally young with a limited purchasing power, these "apps" concern, for the moment, a tiny part of the population that is not necessarily the one that a personal trainer is looking to reach. With time, quality will rise to the surface and even the new generations will discover the benefit of having 1 on 1 support or the movitation that arises in group exercise classes...
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