If you’re in to health, fitness and helping people, becoming a personal trainer might be for you. We uncover the major costs involved.
If, like many expats, you regularly move around the world, perhaps as a “trailing spouse” (a horrible term if there ever was one!), finding a job that you can pick up from one country to the next is difficult, unless you work for a multi-national company or you have a skill that’s highly specialised.
However, there are some careers that lend themselves to the nomadic expat lifestyle and one of those is that of the personal trainer.
A personal trainer (PT) works with people of all ages, instructing them to follow cardio-vascular, strength and stretching exercises as individuals or in a group.
A PT may be employed by a gym or be self-employed and work privately with individual clients, or for businesses who are keen to keep their employees fit at the workplace.
Although PTs took a big hit during the global recession (their services were considered a luxury by many), they have seen a big comeback. All types of instruction are now popular, from individual home-based instruction to group boot camp classes in local parks. And, what makes this great for expats is that the increasing popularity of fitness and health is a worldwide phenomenon.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow by eight percent from 2014 to 2024 and the median annual wage for fitness trainers and instructors was $36,160 in May 2015.
So, what does it take and cost to become a personal trainer?
Most courses stipulate that you must be 18 years or older, and that you have a hands-on CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) certification. CPR and AED courses are often available free of charge via the Red Cross or local community projects.
To become a fitness trainer, either in a gym, with groups in a local hall or with private clients in your home or theirs, will involve financial outlay in seven main areas:
- Insurance (personal indemnity)
- On-going or specialist training
- Basic gym equipment
- Maintenance of your qualification to keep up to industry standards
- Rental of workout area – if you chose to do group sessions in a community or privately owned location
- Personal workout clothing and shoes
The greatest upfront cost will be the certification course, and this is where it gets a bit complicated. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), there are over 300 possible courses to choose from, which having researched it for this blog, we can vouch that that is probably true!
ACE currently has online courses (with testing available worldwide) for between US$499 and US$899 (their Premium Plus course is currently on offer for US$649). The simplicity of their information makes it worth investigating.
In the UK, the National Register of Personal Trainers says you can expect to spend up to around £2,500 as an average course price to gain a full Level 3 qualification as a personal trainer. However, there are slightly less expensive options, for example through the YMCA.
Most courses are a combination of online study and practical workshops, providing training in fitness, nutrition, weight management, and in most cases marketing and sales support. One key cost factor to check is if the course price includes course materials, some do not and they can be significant.
The cost of personal indemnity insurance varies greatly from country to country. In the UK, it’s between £50 to £100 per year.
Equipment needs should be basic to start with, but will depend on the type of instruction you plan to give and whether for individuals or a class. The very least you’ll need are some mats, free weights/kettle weights, skipping rope and bands. It’s worth Googling “second hand gym equipment” and looking on eBay and Gum Tree for deals.
The maintenance or re-certification costs for fitness trainers and instructors varies by type of specialty, generally it shouldn’t cost more than £100 per year.
If you are interested in working for a big group of gyms, you may need a degree related to a health or fitness field. However, if you want to be a self-employed personal trainer there’s no reason to need a degree to be successful; all you need is passion, some training, some marketing knowledge (mostly driven by social media), insurance, face-to-face confidence and clients!