Our team chat with many different people every day who are seeking to progress their career and move on from their current Level 2 Fitness Instructor role to become a Level 3 Personal Trainer.

So we thought we’d put our very own Chief Trainer, Peter Lemon in the hot seat on your behalf and grill him on the most popular questions he’s asked by our students, and of course provide those all-important answers.

Check out his top 10 below.

1 – How difficult is it to get my Level 3 qualification?

There are 2 routes to qualification at Level 3, the Certificate and the Diploma. Either route will enable you to practice as a REP’s recognised trainer and build a successful business.

Your study delivered by blended learning is broken down into course modules. There are 7 for the Certificate and 9 for the Diploma. Each module is broken down into bite size chunks with short answer questions and mini assessments created to reinforce your learning. Once your modules are complete you’ll attend your practical workshops. There are 6 for the Certificate and 8 at Diploma level. These build on the theory, teach you the client side of your new role and of course the all-important exercises and techniques. The Level 3 course culminates in our students running their very own personal training sessions, all under our expert guidance, ensuring they are ready to practice.

We work with students across the UK from all backgrounds. Experience has taught us that if you’re prepared to put the ground work in, commit to your study and work alongside your personal tutor, there’s no reason you shouldn’t go on to be successful and have a flourishing PT career.

2 – Should I study the Certificate or Diploma level?

Whenever I’m asked this question I ask 2 back!

Firstly, what sort of Personal Trainer clients do you want to work with?

Secondly, what are your budget constraints?

Naturally the Diploma is more in-depth than the Certificate but it doesn’t follow that one is better than the other. It’s all about career choices and the end goals you have in mind.

Generally speaking, if you are keen to work with a broad mix of healthy clients who are looking for a Personal Trainer to support them in improved fitness, reduced weight and improved body definition then the Certificate qualification will give you everything you need.

If you’re keen to work with specialist populations such as clients with advanced obesity, specialist sports training, diabetics and the senior population then you’d benefit from choosing the Level 3 Diploma.

3 – I’ve just obtained my Level 2 do I need to allow a certain amount of time before starting my Level 3?

You don’t need to allow for a gap between courses and can start your Level 3 course when you feel ready. Remember though that experience hones talent and builds confidence. So the more you’re working out, implementing the techniques you’ve studied with real life clients or gym members and of course using them yourself, the quicker things will fall into place.

If you’re working in a gym setting it would be a good idea to seek some feedback from your line manager or a trusted colleague who knows you well. Gather a few opinions on whether you should allow a little time to settle as a Fitness Instructor and then start your Level 3, or start straight away. This will help you reach an informed, balanced decision on the best route to take.

4 – What does the theory involve?

The theory involves studying 7 modules at the Certificate level and 9 at the Diploma level. Both courses are comprehensive – here’s an overview of what you’ll study. Anatomy and physiology, client coaching, motivation skills, nutrition, exercise prescription and technique, programme design, exercise contra indicators and much more. Your tutor will oversee and guide you through each module with short answer questions providing a check-in of understanding as you progress. At the end a mini workbook checks learning before you move onto your next module.

5 – What will I have to do on the practical workshops?

Firstly, have lots of fun! Personal training is a people focused business and it’s vital you enjoy what you do. With the theory under your belt the practical workshops introduce you to a wide range of different skills. You will learn how to consult with your client, set goals and create a safe yet highly effective personal training programme. You will then become the coach where you will combine demonstrating the exercises with correct techniques and supporting your client with completing the exercises, whilst being on the lookout for signs and signals that a particular exercise is too easy or advanced.

The practical workshops culminate with you running your very own personal training sessions, with the support of our team, so you can demonstrate your skills and that you’re ready to work with your very own real life clients.

6 – How long does it take to qualify?

This depends on how much time you can commit to your study and how you learn best. As you are choosing to make a career as a Personal Trainer it’s important to invest time in developing effective skills and knowledge for the future.

If you are a quick learner and able to commit to full time study you can qualify in as little as 6 weeks through to 12 weeks. If you prefer to work in bite-size chunks and/or fit your study around other work or family commitments we’d advise you to take a little more time. Here 3 to 9 months would be more realistic depending on your personal circumstances.

Once you’ve enrolled for your course your personal tutor will work with you on the best learning plan for you.

7 – How do people start out once qualified?

The majority of our students start personal training in a gym, leisure centre or health-club role or on a freelance basis as a self-employed trainer. Combining both of these is also a popular starting point.

8 – How do I earn an income from Personal Training?

Personal Trainer roles within a gym setting vary. Some gyms offer employed positions and others will charge a fixed rental for your use of their facilities with you setting your own personal training rates. In this case you would be a freelance trainer and anything you earn over and above the rental fee is income, net of any tax of course. Another popular route is for you to be employed on a gym contract. Here the gym would set standardised personal training rates for their members and you would be paid a set percentage of this hourly rate.

Freelance personal trainers set their own rates. These vary nationally and typically range from £20-£75 per hour. During your business skills course, which all our Level 3 Personal Trainers are able to attend, we look closely at a number of key factors that will help you develop your pricing plan. These include local demographics, the service/s you wish to offer, the types of clients you’re keen to attract and the level of income you’re aiming for.

9 – What type of assessment is involved?

First of all please don’t be put off by the word assessment. If you’re enthusiastic about fitness, great with people and prepared to commit to both the theory and practical side of your study, there’s no reason you shouldn’t progress to be a great Personal Trainer.

The assessment for your course modules involves completing short answer questions, based on the material covered, and an end of module assessment, also in the form of short answers. See this as a check-in of your understanding which ensures you’re on track ready for your practical workshops a little later on.

Practical workshops are delivered by a combination of trainer led demonstrations, having a go, and skills assessment. In these sessions you’ll piece everything together as you put the theory into practice. Expect to roll your sleeves up, explore new things and an element of healthy challenge.

By the end your workshops you’ll run a personal training session with one of our tutors as part of the accreditation process.

10 – How can I build my client base?

If you decide to work in a gym the best way to attract new clients is to interact on the gym floor. Chat with and get to know members and offer PT taster sessions. Be flexible in your approach, some clients may be after some short term help over a few sessions and others a more on-going commitment. Get to know the fitness team and make sure you have accessible profile information about you and your service so that members seeking a PT know who to contact.

If you’re keen to follow the self-employed route you can generate referrals from recognised professional bodies such as REPs and the NRPT. It’s highly advisable to have a website for potential clients to refer to and to build a local and virtual network. Offering complimentary talks to local groups is a great way to put yourself in front of your target audience, for example, slimming clubs, golf clubs and medical centres.

Once you’ve a few clients referrals are also useful to grow and develop your client base. From experience simply asking if your clients know of anyone who is considering a Personal Trainer can pay dividends.


If you’re thinking of becoming a Level 3 Personal Trainer I hope this blog has inspired you to investigate a little further. You can explore more via the following link. Alternatively we always love a chat with our prospective students and give honest advice based on our real-life knowledge and experience of the fitness industry.


T – 0845 270 1990

E – info@aofp.co.uk

W – www.academyoffitnessprofessionals.com

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