Training to be a PT

“I’m going to train to be a PT,” I happily mentioned to a few friends at the pub one evening.

“You’re going to become a PT?” replied my friend, confused.

“But you enjoy your job, why do you want to start being a PT?” asked another.

I shook my head politely before taking another sip of Landlord. “No,” I replied. “I don’t want to be a PT. I want to train to be a PT.”

Friend 1 furrowed his brow. “That’s what we said. Have you had a tough day at work or something? Is this one of those mid-life crisis?”

“I’m 33,” I replied. “And no, you asked if I was going to become a PT, not train to be one.”

“It’s the same thing isn’t it?” asked friend 2 before turning to the barman and holding up three fingers then nodding.

I shook my head and tightened my lips. “No. I’m just interested in personal training. I think it would be useful to understand, you know, for training and stuff.”

Friend 1 raised his eyebrows slightly. “Why don’t you just get a PT?”

What happened after that was a somewhat convoluted discussion based on the “give a man a fish and he’ll eat that day, give him a fishing rod and he’ll eat for the rest of his life” methodology. Although the desired understanding was somewhat skewed by friend 1 reminding friend 2 that they were going fishing in two weeks and needed to book a hotel. It was apparently friend 1’s turn. The next round of beers arrived and the matter was considered settled. I was also warned that the friendship was likely to suffer do to the fact that I consistently refuse to use their real names.


As someone who only got into fitness later in life I always looked at being a PT as something I probably would have really enjoyed had I chosen to do it earlier. Now I have a career I enjoy, I have a life I’m pretty happy with; so deciding to give it up to start again wasn’t really an option. True, I’m only 33, people change career later in life all the time. But it’s normally because they’ve found their true vocation and realised their chosen path is not for them.

A lovely picture of some gym equipment – in case you didn’t know what it looked like

For me becoming a PT would just be another route I could have gone down. Not something I desperately wanted to do. In fact, if I really think about it, I’m completely sure I made the right choice. So why would I want to train to be a PT? Surely that’s just a waste of my free time.

Well, it wasn’t until recently that I decided to find a PT course and start training. Not because I want a job in it, not because I’m unhappy with my current career, but simply because of the fact I’m interested in it. Also, if you’re going to spend a large part of your time training to make your body better, you may as well make sure you understand it properly. Yeah, you can sit and read every single article in fitness magazines or you can stand around the gym talking to other people about the best methods of training, but in reality it may just be opinions or marketing.

Basically, if I’m going to spend a large part of my private time in the gym, I want to make sure I’m not just wasting it. As a fitness writer it also means I can feel confident that the things I’m talking about are things I actually know about, and not just because I’ve seen someone doing it and it sounds cool.

So, after years of loosely toying with the idea I sat down and started researching the various courses out there.

My major concern was cost. I’d known people who’d done a PT course before and it sounded pretty expensive. I wasn’t in a position to throw a few thousand pounds away that I couldn’t afford.

More gym equipment. This time at an angle.
More gym equipment. This time at an angle.

The second focus of my investigation was time. I didn’t want to use up any holiday to carry out the course. Some people I know had done intensive training courses over a few weeks. For someone who was only doing it as a hobby I wasn’t prepared to have it affect my annual leave. I needed something that would fit into my life relatively seamlessly.

There are quite a few courses out there. The majority of which look pretty good when viewed on the websites. But I’d heard good and bad things about them. I decided to speak to a couple of friends about the courses they’d done. Some of them were pretty expensive, over 4£k, certainly not the kind of money I wanted to spend. After a fair bit of reading I found that some of the courses offered loan and finance options. I phoned up a couple to understand how it worked.

Both the loan and finance options were for courses that cost around £2.5k. Still quite pricey when paid up front, but with a payment plan stretching over a number of months it would be more manageable. Both routes I investigated seemed relatively similar in cost and plan structure. The only difference was that I’d need to run through an eligibility process for the loan. I also already knew someone who’d gone down the finance route and he said it was easy.

More equipment to help illustrate to you what a gym is like. You know, so you can understand the copy better

I’m a relatively lazy man when it comes to admin so I opted for the finance route with Fitness Industry Education. A company a friend had used. He said it was a well put together course – that was enough for me. The course was an 18-week series of full Saturday sessions costing a total of £2,399, this would include all the exams, online help and practical sessions. After a deposit of around £500 I would pay the rest of the cost over the next 18 months (about £108 a month). There are options to take longer and pay it off up to 5 years, however after you go past the 18 month option you start paying interest.

The course I chose was the level 3 Diploma in personal training. This would include the level 2 gym qualification, the level 3 personal trainer certificate and have a series of additional qualifications like Group Indoor Cycling, Circuit Instruction, Sports Conditioning and Outdoor Fitness; which cost a lot more if done separately.

So, with my finances done, my classroom sessions booked and every Saturday taken up until April (!), I was set. Now all I need to do was start going through the online tutorials and preparing myself for what would be the first time I’d officially learnt anything since university… which I’ve just realised was over 11 years ago. Which is kind of depressing.

–Insert joke about buying pencil cases and new shoes–

Picture credits: Pond5

Published by Tom Wheatley

All round web chap. Editor of The Allrounder and Get Sweat Go. Loves a pizza, Howard Hawks films, fitness and old British sitcoms. Not a fan of cucumbers. Level 3 Personal Trainer and massively mediocre runner. Recently launched The Run Testers video channel.

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