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Become a Fitness Instructor, Gym Instructor or Personal Trainer: What’s The Difference?

When entering the fitness industry you may hear a number of different career names thrown around, and the ones you’ll probably hear the most are gym instructor, fitness instructor and personal trainer.

Although all three career options sounds similar, they are actually very different.

Fitness instructors and gym instructors are actually both the same thing; it just depends on what the person in question prefers to be called. A personal trainer on the other hand is much different.

Here at The Training Room we provide personal training courses, rather than gym instructor courses or fitness instructor courses; which is because becoming a personal trainer provides you with much more than if you become a gym instructor.

So if you’re debating whether to become a fitness instructor or personal trainer, read below to find out more.


When you become a gym or fitness instructor, you’ll typically be trained to your Level 2 Certificate and employed at either a gym, leisure centre or health club.

Due to the fact that those working as gym instructors are only trained to level 2, they aren’t able to work with specific members of the public, and clients with certain medical problems.

This is because the training at this certificate level doesn’t provide with enough knowledge to be able to deal with these groups in an efficient manner.

Therefore, many that opt to become a gym instructor, will spend more time ‘working the floor’. They’ll tend to talk to members of the public and offer advice and assistance, and dependent of the facility in which they work, some may be able to show people how to use certain pieces of equipment, and create a basic programme based on the persons goals. If qualified, they may also cover certain group exercise classes. However, on the whole, a fitness instructor cannot work one-on-one with the public or provide programmes.

Alongside all this, gym instructors’ jobs also involve carrying out basic admin duties, and are required to clean equipment within the gym.

All of this help and advice is also covered in a person’s monthly gym membership fee, meaning you cannot charge for assistance, due to being employed.


When working as personal trainer you’ll be at a more advanced level than those working as a fitness instructor; as you’ll be trained to level 3. It’s also worth noting that those who become fitness instructors, often train and advance to being personal trainers.

Most personal trainers are also self-employed, with almost 50% of those within the sector becoming their own boss [1]. With this, many different leisure centres, health clubs and gyms will have different propositions they give to self-employed staff; where they’ll take a percentage of what they earn, in order for the trainer to use the establishment’s facilities to train their clients. Most personal trainers charge between £20 and £40 an hour [1]; this also mean that things such as tax is the responsibility of the personal trainer.

Being a qualified personal trainer, means you can provide a lot more help and assistance to people than a fitness instructor could. Being a Level 3 personal trainer means you can conduct fitness tests and advise people on weight management, injury prevention, nutrition and rehabilitation.

Due to this you’ll be in a place to best advise your client on what they require to help them meet their needs and goals. Whether that be losing weight, toning or building muscle, you’ll be able to help through things such as a trainer regime and a nutrition/diet plan; helping them achieve everything they want to successfully, efficiently and safely.

The minimum qualification for this is the Level 3 Certificate in Personal Training. There are more course and modules you can complete after this; giving you a broader knowledge of the industry, enabling you to provide clients with the best advice there is.



To learn more about the benefits and opportunities of a career in the health and fitness industry,


Global Administrator | 27/09/2016 11:31:43

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