New to fitness and deciding whether to run classes or PT sessions?
There’s more than one way to coach in the fitness industry. You could work face-to-face or online. And if you choose to work in-person, you still have a decision to make. Should you be a 1-2-1 PT, offer small group Personal Training, or be a group exercise class instructor?
If you’re newly qualified or early in your career, here are some things to think about before you settle on a service.
What’s the difference between a Personal Trainer and fitness instructor?
The fitness industry has lots of terms for coaches and trainers, and the meaning might vary depending on your location or even the gym you work in. In general, a Personal Trainer is someone who delivers 1-2-1 training sessions to clients. They might also offer small group training, which is Personal Training with one trainer and 2-4 clients. Personal Trainers in the UK need at least their Level 3 certificate to start working as a fully-insured PT.
Consider where you want to work, whether you want to be employed or freelance, and your income goals.
Class instructor, teacher, or fitness instructor usually refers to someone who teaches classes in a group exercise format. Group ex instructors usually have their EMT (Exercise to Music) qualification and then additional certifications relating to the type of class format they want to teach.
In general, fitness instructors can’t work 1-2-1 with members of the public. Personal Trainers who have their Level 2 are limited in who they can work with, so this usually means more time working the gym floor before they get their Level 3. A level 3 Personal Trainer is qualified to work with specific demographics and medical problems.
Is it easier to be a class fitness instructor or a PT?
This depends on what you mean by easy. It’s typically faster to study and get qualified as a group exercise instructor as the courses are short (EMT takes around 2 months). Qualifying as a Level 3 Personal Trainer could take up to 6 months.
But there’s more to think about than qualifications. You should consider where you want to work, whether you want to be employed or freelance, and your income goals.
10 benefits of being a Personal Trainer
Being a qualified Personal Trainer allows you to work in a gym or as a freelancer (or maybe even to own your own gym). It can also be a gateway to working online or offering a hybrid service.
- Session date/time agreed between you and client
- Clients are obligated to attend (cancellation fees apply)
- Sessions are limited to one person or small group
- Simple sales model – block booking or up-front payment
- Goal-focused service encourages longevity
- Clients likely to stay for 6+ months
- Opportunity to create a close relationship (good for word of mouth)
- Chance to charge more and potentially earn more than for classes
- Easier to increase prices in line with added skills and services
- Not necessarily tied to a location (mobile PT, outdoor training, own studio)
The benefits of being a group exercise class instructor
Just as some clients prefer attending classes to doing 1-2-1 PT, some fitness professionals would rather deliver group exercise than be a Personal Trainer. If that sounds like you, here are the benefits of being a group ex instructor.
- You can set the dates and times of classes in advance
- Classes can be of any size, growth is only limited by equipment and space
- You have a variety of payment models from PAYG, class passes, and memberships
- Opportunity to build a loyal following of class attendees who may follow you to other sites
- Uncapped potential to earn (limited only by space)
- Plenty of different qualifications and types of exercise classes to offer
Do PTs or fitness instructors earn more?
Latest industry figures show fitness instructors out-earn Personal Trainers by around £1,500 a year, but the data doesn’t show the average hours worked. The earning potential of both job roles has its opportunities and limitations.
Fitness class instructors have unlimited earning potential if they can run large, full classes on a regular basis. But being a class instructor demands a lot of physical energy, so it’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to run high-energy classes several times every day. Fitness instructors could also add online or on-demand class content to their offers if the technology is there.
Personal Trainers can’t grow their income by adding unlimited people to sessions, but they can usually charge more because of advanced qualifications and areas of specialism. A PT has the opportunity to upsell clients to more sessions, or to add extra income streams like webinars and events.
Striive has tons of useful features to make your life easier if you’re a PT or class instructor. And these features are really flexible, so check out different ways to use them.
Some Striivers use our classes system to run drop-in sessions, where clients will train in a group of ad-hoc attendees. Other Striivers use our session packs to sell short premium coaching programmes to an intimate group (even if they do not know each other).